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Fact-Checking the First Debate Yourself

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Mammoth Sniper Challenge
September 27, 2016
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Personal opinion incoming; I don't like watching debates. Politics has increasingly become dramatized and loaded with television-worthy moments. Sober consideration of the policies and facts of both candidates just isn't entertaining anymore. I prefer to read the debate after it has been transcribed, and check multiple sources for fact checking (this allows me to find the sources of the fact checkers), so that, slowly and carefully, I can determine my opinion of the candidates.I also think that debates are necessary. This election season has been extremely tenuous at best, with people flopping between republican, democratic, and independent candidates through a single tweet or sound bite. It's important to have a stage where candidates are directly asked about the issues, so that they reveal their policy choices.


Unfortunately, not all news organizations have posted fact checks at the time I am writing this article, and others that did, simply did not source their material well. The criteria I looked for was:Who offered a FULL transcription (or longer transcriptions) of the debate? OR Who covered a broader list of statements or quotes than others?ANDWho was up front about their source material, and linked to it?ANDIf they do link to other news sources, who are they most often referencing?With that being said, here are the three best sources that I could find where you can fact check the debates for yourself:

1.) NPR

With a FULL transcript of the debate, this was the easiest source for me to read everything that both candidates said, and use video as a backup for referencing tone and context. They offer fact checking throughout the transcript, but be aware that not all checks have a link to source (a majority do). Although they sometimes cite other news organizations for source material (in particular The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and even themselves), a majority of their statistics do come directly from government departments, which allow readers to look at actual numbers, rather than news reports on them.This source offered the MOST fact checks on 75 statements said by both candidates.

2.) Politifact

This source uses small quotes as a base for fact-checking, which can restrict the context of what was said, so be sure to have a full transcript or video of the debate handy to double check. Be prepared to dig a little bit here as well; their ratings (true, mostly true, mostly false, or false) of the facts mostly link to their own previous articles on these topics. From there, you can typically find links to source material, often with video, but it may sometimes take several pages to find out what you want to know. The links do typically lead to government statistics or reports, video of statements, documents, etc., but they are not as easily accessed.This source made the list because they covered more quotes or statements than other sources (33 in total), and offered diverse and thorough source materials, though they can be difficult to wade through.


This site has longer transcripts of the debate, but not a full one by a long shot. They do also use short quotes for checks. However, links abound in their checks, so that you can see nearly all of their source material, which does include government sites as well as links to legal documents or government reports for review. News organizations that were referenced include The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Politico, The New York Times, and CNN. There was one link that I came across that referenced Fox News. BONUS: they have all of their sources in a comprehensive list at the bottom of the article.This source offered checks on 18 statements (or segments of conversation), said by either candidate. They made the list due to their extensive sourcing on all checks, as well as their compiling of all sources for easy access within the article.Register to vote, remember to vote, but most important of all, research before you vote. You owe it to yourself, and your country.

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