Progressive groups are demanding that all television networks delay airing the Republican National Convention until they fact-check all claims made by the featured speakers — which they didn’t demand for the Democratic convention.
“The best way to combat the spread of disinformation is to stop it at its source. By putting the Republican National Convention on a one-minute time delay, your network will be able to actively correct disinformation in real time, and prevent the American people from being lied to on your airwaves,” said a letter on Monday, signed by nine progressive groups, including an EMILY’s List PAC and Color of Change PAC. “The future of our country, our people and our democracy is at stake.”
“Several major networks pulled away from speakers during the first night of the convention to fact-check claims made by speakers,” The Hill reported. “CNN and MSNBC cut away from Patricia and Mark McCloskey, the couple that went viral after pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their house in St. Louis. The networks clarified a claim the couple made about Democrats wanting to abolish the suburbs by ending single-family home zoning.”
CNN and The New York Times have been running fact-checking pages on their digital platforms.
“I think it’s important for objective journalists to note how wildly imbalanced the dishonesty is between the current parties. This one half-night of Republican programming so far has been exponentially more dishonest than the entire four nights of the Democratic convention,” CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale tweeted.
In the letter, the groups said:
We have already seen Americans die due to disinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic and the search for a treatment. We have also seen an increase in hate crimes, police brutality, and racial injustice due to inflammatory and racist disinformation on the news.
Make no mistake, the Republican National Convention’s programming will be a primary source of dangerous disinformation about everything from voting rights, to racial justice and police violence, to medical disinformation and dangerous medical falsehoods about the pandemic. It is likely that this information will also include racist and sexist attacks designed to stoke division and hatred. We know this, because we have seen it before. We know who the speakers at the convention will be, and an overwhelming majority of them contribute to the spread of dangerous disinformation every single day. …
The real-world impacts of disinformation are clear: Our nation is fast approaching 200,000 deaths from COVID-19–with a disproportionate impact on Black, Latinx and Indigenous people–and medical disinformation about the coronavirus puts lives at risk. Donald Trump’s promotion of unproven Hydroxychloroquine led to overdoses and a medication shortage that made the drug inaccessible to chronic illness patients who rely on it. Disinformation regarding disinfectants led to people drinking and inhaling poisonous household cleaning products. A recent working paper by researchers at the University of Chicago shows that Fox News viewers of disinformation are less likely to comply with public health guidelines and that “those behavioral differences are contributing to the spread of the coronavirus and mortality rate of covid-19.”