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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Would Live Fact Checkers Keep The Debates Honest?

Vicki Meyer traveled to Washington, DC with her petition asking the Commission on Presidential Debates to have live fact checkers during the debates. (Courtesy Sign-on.org)

Vicki Meyer, of Sarasota, Fla., has an idea. She wants to have live fact checkers on hand at the presidential and vice presidential debates to make sure Americans are getting the whole truth from the candidates.

And it seems like a lot of people agree with her.

Meyer, a retired college instructor, circulated a petition on SignOn.org asking the Commission on Presidential Debates to include fact checkers at the debates. More than 215,000 signed her petition.

Voter Disillusionment

Meyer told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that she got the idea after working on voter registration drives in Florida.

“We got the reply from a lot of people saying, ‘Why should we vote? They’re all a bunch of liars.’ They felt the same disillusionment that I felt,” Meyer said.

Under Meyer’s plan, the fact checkers would present the debate moderator with their reviews during commercial breaks. Then the moderator could decide what to do with the information. Meyer would also want to have the information flash on TV screens for the audience at home.

Petitioning The Commission On Presidential Debates

“I think the truth can bring us together.”

– Vicki Meyer, retired college instructor

SignOn.org flew Meyer to Washington, D.C., to present her petitions to the Commission on Presidential Debates, but Meyer said they wouldn’t meet with her. She couldn’t even get them to accept the box of petitions.

“I can understand that [they wouldn’t take the box] in the time of bombs and all that, but I was disappointed,” she said.

A Fact Checking Time Crunch

The commission didn’t return our calls for comment.

But Rob Farley, deputy managing editor of FactCheck.org told Here & Now, that they would have seven people fact checking the debate, but he said it wouldn’t be feasible to present the information in real time.

Farley said while the candidates will likely fall back on some themes that have already gone through the fact checking process, they will likely tweak the lines, which would require new analysis.

Farley said their results will likely come out in the wee hours of Thursday morning.

‘The Truth Can Bring Us Together’

But Meyer is undeterred. She believes fact checking could help break some of the polarization in the country.

“I think the truth can bring us together,” Meyer said. “We all really want the same thing. We want our country to be strong, we want our families to be safe, and we want our children to have a better life.”

Guest:

  • Vicki Meyer, retired college instructor

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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