CNN Doubles Down on Decision to Not Fact-Check Debate, ‘Very Proud’ of Jake Tapper and Dana Bash

CNN defended its presidential debate moderators for not fact-checking Donald Trump’s “firehose of lies” in real time, reminding critics that the duo’s job was “facilitating … not participating” and saying the network is “very proud” of Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.

The two top anchors were roasted on social media on Thursday night and Friday morning as debate-watchers suggested that their failure to fact-check the former president marked “the collapse of American media.”

But spokesperson for the network said, “We are very proud of Jake and Dana. Our job was to make sure candidates were heard so voters can make informed decisions and we are pleased we were able to do that.”

CNN had made it clear ahead of the debate that Tapper and Bash would focus on facilitating the conversation between the two candidates and not participating. The network’s political director David Chalian told The New York Times that the debate was “not the ideal arena for live fact-checking.” They instead fact-checked in real time on CNN’s digital properties, and on air following the debate. The candidates had also agreed to the format.

CNN’s chairman, Mark Thompson, called Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump “the stars of the show.” It was Joe Biden’s job to fact-check Trump, the network has insisted. But Biden instead gave a dismal performanc

But the muted moderators and the decision to not fact-check live on air was not welcomed by some viewers and experts. “CNN’s performance was dreadful. It did nothing journalistic. They might as well have had Vanna White pointing to the next question and the next, ” Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor at CUNY told TheWrap, “They opened the door for Donald Trump to lie again and again, as we knew he would, and then did nothing. They questioned Joe Biden’s record but didn’t question Trump’s.

“Journalists love to talk about who wins and loses debates. CNN lost, profoundly. This leaves me terribly disturbed for the state of American journalism,” Jarvis added.

“I wonder if Jake Tapper and Dana Bash realize how much — through their silence and unwillingness to correct lie after lie spewed by a narcissistic felon on stage –they have just become the faces of the collapse of American media,” musician and writer Mikel Jollett wrote on X.

Not fact checking Trump’s “firehose of lies” was “unforgivable,” added political commentator Keith Olbermann, who said that the broadcast reflected “CNN’s utter failure as a news organization.”

But other media-watchers praised Tapper and Bash for their poise during the heated debate.

Vanity Fair special correspondent and former host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Brian Stelter wrote on X that Tapper and Bash were “the most impressive people at this debate so far.”

Senior CNN correspondent and public relations expert Scott Jennings also wrote on social media that Tapper and Bash “gave this country what it needed out of this historic event.”

CNN didn’t immediately respond for further comment on Friday morning.

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