What We're Reading

Morning Reads: Fact Checking the Debate; Cruz Sells Out to Trump

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: Networks Will Not Fact Check Debates

Workers make adjustments to the set for this year's first US presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Debates –> Tonight is the first presidential debate, 9 p.m. ET. There is cause to worry, however, that we may see more fiction than facts from at least one of the two potential leaders of the United States. If you don’t have a TV, you can watch it on YouTube.

The networks have rejected on-screen fact-checking of the sort CNN has occasionally started putting in its lower-screen chyrons. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to get the moderator into essentially serving as the Encyclopedia Britannica,” the executive director of the commission on presidential debates told CNN. This must have pleased Trump, who last week said that to decide the truth, candidates should “argue it out.”

But there are lots of ways for you to fact check as tonight’s debate rumbles on. Major newspapers like The Washington PostNPR, such fact checking websites as Politifact and lots of online media like Talking Points Memo and The Atlantic will be monitoring the candidates for accuracy in real time. You can also turn to Twitter for a fact check — but, as always with Twitter, be mindful of the source.

One issue you may not hear about at all tonight — accurately or otherwise — is climate change. It figured prominently during the Democratic primaries, and, as of March, far more Americans were worried about it than weren’t. However, debate moderators typically avoid the issue. At The Washington Post’s Plum Line blog, Greg Sargent argues that they shouldn’t tonight. Trump’s erroneous opinion that the whole thing is a hoax has sent world leaders scrambling to try and make the Paris treaty legally binding before he enters office.

Cruz endorsement –> Ted Cruz has, in Vox’s words, “unhinge[d] his jaw and swallow[ed] his pride.” He endorsed Donald Trump for president, despite their mutual hatred during the primaries and the Republican convention, Trump’s disparaging comments about Cruz’s wife and his attempt to link Cruz’s father to the JFK assassination. When asked by CNN whether he considered Trump “fit to be president,” Cruz slowly replied, “I think we have one of two choices,” and would not answer when asked a second time.

Cruz has, however, already been making money off the Trump campaign. Shane Goldmacher reports for Politico, “Just six weeks after he dropped out — and more than a month before Cruz would dramatically snub the nominee at the Republican National Convention — the senator quietly began renting his vast donor email file to his former rival, pocketing at least tens of thousands of dollars, and more likely hundreds of thousands, that can be used to bankroll the Texan’s own political future.”

Planet above party –> Two Republican-appointed EPA administrators — William D. Ruckelshaus, who ran the agency under Nixon and Reagan, and William K. Reilly, who served during the George H.W. Bush administration — have authored an op-ed in The New York Times today arguing on behalf of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which requires states to cut carbon emissions by state-specific amounts. Industry groups and Republican attorneys general say the law is federal overreach. The former EPA chiefs disagree. They write that, under the Clean Air Act, “although states were given the primary responsibility to meet the standards, Congress gave the EPA the power to implement plans of its own if states failed to act. The clear and unmistakable message from Congress to the EPA was to protect the health of Americans.” A court is hearing testimony related to the plan tomorrow.

Saudi lobby braces for a fight –> President Obama vetoed a bill that easily passed the House and Senate allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue the countries that funded the attacks, including, potentially, Saudi Arabia. USA Today reports: “The White House has argued that the bill would prompt other nations to retaliate, stripping the immunity the United States enjoys in other parts of the world. ‘And no country has more to lose, in the context of those exceptions, than the United States of America, given the preeminent role that we play in global affairs,’ [White House press secretary Josh] Earnest said.” Congress may override the president’s veto, and Saudi Arabia is ready: It has hired former Sens. Trent Lott and John Breaux to lobby on its behalf.

RIP –> Golf lovers idolized him as the man who popularized the sport for millions, his legions of devoted fans known as Arnie’s Army. Adam Schupack writes at Golfweek, “His dashing presence singlehandedly took golf out of the country clubs and into the mainstream. Quite simply, he made golf cool.” Rest in peace, Arnold Palmer.

Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!


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