The live tweet v. the fact check: there’s a study for that

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When journalists live tweet political debates, the majority share candidates’ factual claims without challenging them, according to a new study that looked at how media outlets handle fact checking on the fly.

About 60 percent just offer straightforward statements, the University of Texas at Austin study found. About 15 percent refuted statements with evidence, while 25 percent refuted statements without evidence.

To fact checking experts, this is no surprise. According to Eugene Kiely, director of, claims made during debates usually take several hours to really verify.

Editor Angie Drobnic Holan of PolitiFact agrees.

“You can’t research and verify facts that quickly,” Holan said. “But fortunately for us, politicians repeat themselves a lot.”

To Holan, then, the goal of live tweeting during debates is to give people a sense of whether already debunked statements are being repeated.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.