Appearing on Fox & Friends four days before the much-anticipated first presidential debate, Donald Trump gave himself away, telling the hosts that he didn't think moderators should fact check the candidates. Trump has built a campaign on lies and desperately hopes he won't be confronted with the truth as the entire world watches.
The New York Times profiles Shareblue today and says this:
[Shareblue is] already warming up for the biggest event of the general election so far: the first debate, on Monday night. It has already published a piece calling on moderators to fact-check Mr. Trump on the spot, and will continue through debate night, whipping up support online with the hashtag #DemandFairDebates.
We launched #DemandFairDebates for a simple reason: By objective measures and according to independent studies, national media coverage of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has been substantially lopsided in his favor.
As we’ve argued in recent days, Matt Lauer’s moderation of NBC’s Commander-in-Chief forum was widely panned—and deservedly so—but Lauer’s fault was not that he did something unusual. To the contrary, Lauer’s performance was a one hour microcosm of a year’s worth of media coverage.
It included the three core elements of what has been a relentless double standard: Antagonism and scorn for Clinton, an unhealthy obsession with her emails, and sheepish acquiescence to Trump’s lies.
The unfairness of it all became glaringly manifest when condensed into a 60 minute spectacle.
Lester Holt can learn from Lauer’s mistake.
First, he can face the truth about the abysmal coverage of Hillary Clinton. Even as trust in the mass media plummets to new lows, too many of his fellow journalists are in denial about their Clinton problem. Second, he can prepare to call Trump’s lies what they are. Third, he can keep the conversation focused on issues that matter to working Americans, not optics that only matter to elite reporters and well-paid pundits.
Here is the harsh truth Holt must face if he intends to do justice to his important role: The corporate media have spent 18 months repeating pervasive narratives about Hillary Clinton, priming news consumers to have a Pavlovian response to only a single word and doing their level best to set her up for defeat.
Trump has weathered no sustained narrative-building from the media, so there is no meme like “transcripts” or “emails” or “untrustworthy” that Holt can take advantage of as a shorthand to impugn his character.
If, in questioning Clinton, Holt simply echoes the subjects his colleagues have been repeating for the last year and a half (or longer, in some cases), he’ll automatically tilt the debate in Trump’s favor.
So, when Trump tells Fox News that debate moderators shouldn’t fact check the candidates, we know exactly why: he’s afraid of what will happen if they do.