We all got the pleasure — nay, the privilege — to view the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Monday night.
For those of you who watched it, you may have viewed it similar to the way I did — spending half of your time glued to the screen, and the other half screaming into a pillow.
No matter what side you are on, one of the most useful tools that I found was National Public Radio’s live fact check. But, the live fact check was also one of the most concerning thing about the debate to me.
A source constantly checking facts during a debate is great. It instantly brings you sources to support or disprove what a candidate is saying and helps you make an informed decision. That part is great. But watching the debate on Monday I realized that we are in a presidential race where a fact check has become a necessity. For me, it is a problem when I am not sure I can believe a word coming out of a candidate’s mouth without clicking over to my computer and cross-referencing the fact check.
Maybe candidates are just more comfortable lying than they used to be, but that doesn’t make sense. We’re in a world now where live fact checks exist. Maybe it’s all just a show put on by “the overpaid media,” but I sincerely doubt that — although I am slightly biased. Maybe both candidates are just terrible people.
These are all opinions I have heard, but I think there was one major flaw in the first presidential debate that contributed to the absolute need for a fact check: Moderator — or lack thereof — Lester Holt.
When the internet and NPR live fact checks weren’t at nearly everyone’s fingertips, the public relied on the moderator to sort out the truth in a debate and keep candidates on message. A moderator’s job was — and still should be — to be a reporter, gather facts about the selected topics and make sure the public got information and truth.
Holt did not say much, he let many comments slip by that according to the NPR check were blatantly false, and instead of keeping candidates on message and making sure they answered with clear, concise statements about plans and policies, he let the conversation devolve to little more than a back-and-forth of insults.
We heard a few plans, but nothing really stuck out to me as concrete. I want to hear exactly what candidates want to do in office and exactly how they plan to do it. I hope that in the next debate we will have a stronger moderator and hear a more on-message conversation — but I’m not optimistic.
If this trend continues, and I believe it will, presidential debates will be no better than reality TV for the voting public.
So I encourage everyone who is 18 years of age or older, to please do a little digging yourself. Find reliable sources, get the facts, and be an informed voter this November.
If you don’t like either candidate, search out other options or start from the ground up and change your representation locally or in Congress.
But please, please, even if you don’t think you need to, take a chance and vote.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.