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 FactCheck.org, 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.