Yes Media, It Is YOUR Job to Separate Truth From Fiction
The 2016 presidential debate moderators were announced recently. Chris Wallace who will be moderating the 3rd and final debate recently said “I do not believe that it’s my job to be a truth squad. It’s up to the other person to catch them on that…”
As a newscaster, your job is to educate people at home about the various events occurring across the country and the rest of the World. Whether that news is about the weather, pop culture, food or the election, it has to be accurate.
Take this ever changing political landscape for example. If you have a political candidate on your show and he/she is just saying things without any facts or reasons, you have to call a foul when you see it because no one else can do that job and people at home will take that candidate at his/her word.
Let’s take that same example but add another candidate and set it up as a debate. Candidates across party lines will always provide rebuttals against the other but there’s no way for a viewer at home to judge whether what they’re saying against each other is factual. As the debate moderator, you need to be that unbiased referee and serve as the source of truth for the millions of viewers at home.
I like to suggest solutions to any issue I bring up so here are some recommendations to ensure the debates end up in factual discussion and serve as an educational source for all viewers at home:
- If a candidate doesn’t answer the question the moderator asks directly and/or keeps filibustering, the moderator gets to ask the same question again until the candidate has addressed it directly
- Bi-partisan fact checkers should be present at each debate. They should be able to call out a candidate in real-time for their statements in a follow up question posed by the moderator. Allow the candidate a short amount of time to respond
- Keep the audience boos and applause to a bare minimum to ensure the audience at home doesn’t get swayed based on audience reaction. This also leads to more time for the moderator to ask additional questions
A debate serves as the final variable in a presidential campaign and allows voters to get a final look at the 2 candidates running for the highest office in the land. As a moderator, you want the candidates to debate their differences and make their case to the American public to vote for them. But at the same time, you can’t let a candidate keep lying and flip flopping to suit the discussion and pander to a certain demographic. As the unbiased source in the room, you need to separate fact from fiction to allow viewers to be honestly informed.