Perloe: Real-time Fact Checking at the Presidential Debates

Letter to the editor submitted by Jonathan Perloe, a leader of Voter Choice Connecticut, the citizens’ movement working to bring Ranked Choice Voting to the state.

The Commission on Presidential Debates was established more than 35 years ago to ensure that debates are a permanent feature of the presidential campaign “for the benefit of the American electorate.” Debates assist voters in evaluating policy positions, accomplishments, fitness for office and character.

To be of any benefit, the answers candidates offer during the debates must be truthful. It’s expected that politicians stretch the truth, but Donald Trump is in a league of his own. Expecting him to respect the truth on the debate stage would be delusional. To protect the integrity of the presidential debates, there must be real-time fact checking by a reputable news source.

Before he was even nominated in 2016 as the Republican candidate for president, PolitiFact—winner of the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished national reporting—selected Trump for its 2015 Annual Lie of the Year. Typically PolitiFact picks just one lie for its award, but for 2015 they found it impossible to pick just one of Trump’s falsehoods, so it “rolled them into one big trophy” and awarded it the Lie of the Year. In scoring some 300 statements candidate Trump made during 2015, PolitiFact found three-quarters of them to be “mostly false” or worse, more than any other politician.

Since becoming president, Trump’s relationship with the truth has become even more strained. For the first half of his presidency, Trump lied to the American public about a dozen times a day. That earned him the title of “the king of lies” by Michael Gerson, chief speechwriter and senior policy advisor to George W. Bush. The pace of Trump’s mendacity accelerated once the Mueller Report was released, to the point where the president of the United States lies on average twice an hour during a typical 12-hour day. In July, Trump surpassed 20,000 lies, as  documented by The Washington Post.

To fulfill its mission of serving the American electorate through presidential debates, the Commission has an obligation to protect voters from the pathological lying of Donald Trump. The best way to hold him accountable to the truth is by employing real-time fact checking during the presidential debates.

“Demand Real-Time Fact Checking at Presidential Debates” petition.

Jonathan Perloe
Cos Cob

The author is a leader of Voter Choice Connecticut, the citizens’ movement working to bring Ranked Choice Voting to the state.