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Fact-Checking Last Presidential Debate

Station Censors Mistake in Debate & Fact-Checking Last Night

This is an odd case of censoring that if applied at the debate last night, could have made things look very different. In a congressional debate in Pennsylvania, a TV station has censored remarks made by one of the candidates because they were erroneous. Bleeping out a mistake? Yep, because the statement was about the economy. She said that two major banks had failed — when actually they hadn't — a mistake uncorrected at the time by either her opponent or the moderator was zapped from the debate before it was broadcast.

The general manager of the station who made the decision (after consulting with the FCC and the NAB) said, ''In the end, we did not feel that broadcasting the names of the banks served the public in any way. Because of the economic times we're in . . .a statement on television can cause an immediate effect.'' The debate aired with a disclaimer approved by both candidates.

To see what could have happened if this fact-checking censoring were to have happened at the debate last night,


  • McCain described Colombia as the "largest agricultural importer of our products." Actually? It's Canada.
  • Obama said all of McCain's ads have been negative. While that applied for one week recently, at times Obama has run a higher percentage of negatives.
  • McCain pegged Obama's health care proposal as "single-payer" based on a five-year-old quote. Obama's current proposal is not.
  • Obama said he's willing to break ranks with Democrats when he's voted with them 97 percent of the time since becoming a senator.

If you want more, the whole debate has been fact-checked so you can separate truth from . . . the bleepable. Is the notion of censoring mistakes a dangerous precedent? Was it OK in the example of the economy? If so, where's the line?


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