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Fact-Checking the Sunday Talk Show Circuit?

January 5th, 2010, 04:01 am admin Leave a comment Go to comments

A couple of wild and crazy ideas for holding politicians and pundits accountable for the crap they peddle on the Sunday talk show circuit:

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen tweeted an idea about improving the Sunday morning talk shows. He says the programs, rather than letting politicians get away with distortions, should offer an online fact check each week of exaggerations and lies. For the guests, says Rosen, the format beckons them to evade, deny, elide, demagogue and confuse, but then they pay for it later if they give into temptation and make that choice. I happen to think that makes a lot of sense toward holding officials accountable.


Naked assertions from politicians are the stuff of these shows. Why can’t some of them be checked in real time? Surely it’s possible to have a small army of fact-checkers at the ready during the broadcasts of these shows. Network news divisions already employ reporters and researchers (all of whom are likely passively watching their network’s program anyway) who can be deployed to assist the overall journalistic enterprise. Moreover, I’m reliably informed that technology now allows for people to send “instant messages” to one another. Why not use it? Why not open up these lines of communication between the backroom and the moderator, and bring the full force of a news gathering organization to bear as the cameras roll live?

Personally, I prefer the second option — call these people out in real time.

But I won’t hold my breath for either option to be implemented. After all, if today’s television “journalists” didn’t allow their guests to spew their garbage on Sunday, what would they have to breathlessly report on for the rest of the week?

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