"There is a big difference between being a moderator in a debate and being a reporter interviewing someone," Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., a co-chair of the debate commission, told CNN on Sunday. "We do not expect Chris or other moderators to be fact checkers. The moment the TV is off, there will be many fact checkers in every newspaper and every TV station in the world. That is not the role, the main role of our moderators.
Some media thinkers have asked TV networks to introduce their own fact-checks. in real time, through on-screen graphics, caption preparation or releases to journalists who offer context. Anchors on CNN and MSNBC occasionally broke in speeches during the Republican National Conference in August, pointing to lies or baseless accusations.
This interventionist approach is less likely on Tuesday, according to executives and producers at several TV networks. In contrast to the conventions, leaders said, the debates were intended as an unfiltered test of candidates' testimony, perseverance and ability to persuade voters.
“The debate is one of the rare opportunities where the public sees both presidential elections. candidates together on the same stage, where they have a chance to not only answer and address each other, but to speak directly to the American public, "said Caitlin Conant, Political Director at CBS News. "We do not want to get in between the voters and the candidates."
This does not mean that Conant or other leaders plan to cast shadows to correct lies. CBS, for example, has its Washington correspondent Major Garrett on standby for fact-checking during the broadcast in prime time. CNN's internal Trump fact check, Daniel Dale, will be featured in the network's coverage. Many TV news outlets provide live fact checking and analysis on their websites.
On Fox News on Sunday, Mr. Wallace said he had "very much" to cover in 90 minutes, citing coronavirus, racial tensions, economic problems and protests across the country. Just this weekend, President Judge Amy Coney Barrett nominated the Supreme Court, and The New York Times published a major investigation that revealed that Trump did not pay federal income tax in 10 of the 15 years before 2017.
How many viewers can even be affected of Tuesday's negotiations is an open question.
About 70 percent of Americans said the debates would have little bearing on their final vote, according to a poll this month by The Wall Street Journal and NBC News. The survey found that 44 percent of respondents said that the debates would have no say at all.