Elections

Salon.com Pressures Commission Co-Chairs, Demanding Changes That Will Tank The Debates

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Christian Datoc Audience Development Manager

Salon.com CEO Jordan Hoffner wrote a Tuesday letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, requesting Co-Chairs Frank Fahrenkop and Michael McCurry institute an instant replay system in the upcoming debates.

The request comes only days after Media Matters founder David Brock pressured the commission to remove Fox News’s Chris Wallace as moderator of the third and final debate. (RELATED: Clinton Camp Wants HUGE CHANGE For Upcoming Presidential Debate)

Hoffner wrote that “while each [NFL] contest this past weekend had its own series of questionable plays, viewers were at least assured a baseline sense of accuracy and ‘truth’ in the outcome.”

“The NFL has tweaked its instant-replay rules over the years in an effort to offer a sense of transparency to fans, casual fantasy players and big-time bettors following the action in Vegas,” he continued Although there probably always will be some plays that will generate partisan debate, the NFL has basically brought ‘fact-checking’ into its games through the use of instant replay.”

Therefore, since the future of our country and the world is at stake, I propose that the Commission on Presidential Debates change course and reform a clearly antiquated debate system and bring it into the information age. Specifically, I urge you, as heads of the commission, to leverage the technology built in this country by immigrants and the children of immigrants to perform real-time fact-checking on stage during the debates.

Hoffner then proposed importing the NFL’s exact instant-replay system — consisting of two challenges per side per contest — into the first NBC debate on September 26.

Referee Jerome Boger looks at the screen in the instant replay booth during the game between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2012 (Getty Images)

Referee Jerome Boger looks at the screen in the instant replay booth during the game between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2012 (Getty Images)

Hoffner wants two fact-checking teams from Factcheck.org and the other from “a project run by the nonpartisan Annenberg Public Policy Center (itself part of Donald Trump’s alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania).”

The presidential candidates and moderator Lester Holt would then be allowed to “throw the red flag” whenever they “[hear] a ‘lie’ in during the other’s response.”

Members of the fact-check team would then go to work to determine the veracity of the answer and relay their findings to the moderator. If the challenger were to be correct, then he or she would still have two challenges and the candidate whose statement was found false, well, would be shown to be a liar in front of the whole country. If, however, the challenge were to be unfounded — and the speaker’s statement is determined to be factually sound — then the challenger would lose one of his or her challenges and be shown as ill-informed.

“This new format would make for riveting political theater and has the potential to bring in more than the 100 million expected debate viewers,” Hoffner continued. “Most important, though, those who tune in could expect to hear verifiable facts, even if only on a few nights.”

Oddly, Hoffner writes that he is “not naive enough to think that these actions would stop the deceptive remarks,” which raises one question.

Is Hoffner’s proposal authentic, or just one that would drastically increase the an already 90 minute long political slugfest?

You can read the entire letter over at Salon.com.

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