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Fact checks were prevalent during and after the Biden-Trump debate — but not for real-time viewers

NEW YORK (AP) — There were some exhaustive, independent fact checks of claims made during the CNN debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Trouble was, none of them were available to the millions of people watching the two presidents in real time.

That was the result of CNN’s decision ahead of Thursday’s debate that moderators Dana Bash and Jake Tapper would be questioners, not arbiters. Supporters of President Biden were frustrated, since Trump was later flagged for more misleading statements than his rival, and it served to put greater emphasis on the Democrat’s tepid performance.

At the same time, it emphasized a puzzle the media has yet to solve after nine years of Trump operating in the public arena as it relates to the presidency.

“I think that there is a very real question about whether it is possible to fact-check Donald Trump live on television,” said Jane Hall, author of “Politics and the Media: Intersections and New Directions” and an American University journalism professor. “He has confounded many different formats.”

False claims abounded

An estimated 51.3 million people watched the unusual June debate, according to a preliminary estimate by the Nielsen company. The first time these candidates met onstage in 2020, there were 73 million viewers.

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