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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?


PrincessCali PrincessCali 9 years
I'd prefer a "none of the above" choice as well, but looks like we will have to choose the lesser of two evils here, so to speak.
gt99 gt99 9 years
I really don't know who to vote for this time. I don't want to give any one of them of my vote. SUCKS! I think I might just wrote a name on the ballot.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Personlly I think both stats are BS. A stat like that doesnt take into account the legislation. Its easy to say well, so and so did this, but without looking at the actual legislation where someone broke from their party, I don't think the information provides us with anything at all.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
True Song: I completely agree- this is such a weird list of fact-checking. "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." This is what I take issue with. If Obama had said he DID break rank with Dems. frequently, then fine, this could be fact checking. But you can't fact check a statement he has made about his willingness to do something in the future. I mean, make your inferences about what Obama will do in the future based on his past, but don't call it a fact that he isn't willing to break ranks with the Dems! And people bring up how often McCain agreed with Bush, not to argue that he isn't bipartisan enough, but to show that he agreed with the same policies that got out our country where it is now. McCain is inexplicably trying to run as a change candidate, and then when he gets pegged as voting with Bush- he tries to twist his way out of it by saying that Obama is even less bipartisan than he is- it's basically a smokescreen, because that isn't what people are criticizing him for.
billyart101 billyart101 9 years
Fact checking is very important, but not during the live event.
stephley stephley 9 years
There was no intent to suppress an opinion or statement that anyone found objectionable... the purpose of altering the debate was to keep an admittedly mistaken statement from being broadcast.
PrincessCali PrincessCali 9 years
I thought it was censoring at first, but then convinced myself that would never be done!
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
did it = voted on party lines
chatondeneige chatondeneige 9 years
The presidential debate wasn't censored!
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
I always find that stat about how many times McCain voted Pub to be laughable, what is it? 92% or something? But Obama did it 97% and yet he's supposed to be more bipartisan? That's pretty silly.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
a presidential debate wasn't censored.
otaku otaku 9 years
i think it's absolutely absurd that a presidential debate has been censored. it's a debate! mistakes are part of it, regardless of what the mistakes pertain to. i think it's misleading to the public and not fair to the opposing candidate.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
Um, those examples you listed from the site seem kind of out of whack. Saying one country is one thing when it's not true, that's a fact. We can check it. Whether someone's willing to break ranks, well, that's different. It would be one thing if he had said something like, "I have regularly voted not with my party..." or something. But just saying he's willing to isn't the same kind of verifiable fact. And this isn't partisan for me, same goes for what they said about McCain and Acorn. It's such nitpicking how they call him out for saying that ACORN may have perpetrated voting fraud. Fact Check says he's wrong because the people paid to register voters were just being lazy and making up names and that they didn't intend to do any illegal voting. I'd still say registering Bugs Bunny to vote is voter fraud. The only real mistake I see is the one about Colombia.
stephley stephley 9 years
I'm not so sure I'd call it censoring, since the candidate's own campaign alerted the station to a factual error that could have caused a panic - and since the other candidate, the FCC and NAB were contacted before the change. That's not the same as bleeping a candidate who misrepresents their opponent's record or who intentionally characterizes something incorrectly to their benefit. And even the factcheckers equivocate sometimes.
sexylibrarian sexylibrarian 9 years
I thought my cable was acting up too!
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 9 years
Oh I thought the cutting out of sound was an error on the part of the network or that my cable was "acting up". Unfortunately I think it's a mistake to censor them live even if what they are saying is inaccurate. Especially because most people probably didn't even realize the candidates were being censored for fact checking. I could see maybe reairing a "fact checked" version of the debate that would have been nice.
geebers geebers 9 years
I love factcheck :)
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