One of the bigger issues of the today’s presidential debates is whether moderators should let the candidates have at each other, acting as arbiters of time, or if they should be more active and act as “fact-checkers” to the candidates’ statements. The latter obliterates the traditional role of debate moderator. NBC’s Lester Holt, evidently, decided to be more of an activist than a pacifist when it came to being a moderator of the first debate.
Holt decided to be a fact-checker when he engaged Donald Trump, such as when regarding the “stop-and-frisk” policies that were employed successfully in New York City and saying the policies were “ruled unconstitutional in New York because [they] largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.” However, constitutional scholar and law professor Alan Dershowitz put Holt in his place and fact-checked him by providing the truth on the matter, as per HotAir.com.
During a WMAL interview, Dershowitz said, “There was a district court judge, Shira Scheindlin, who ruled that the NY stop and frisk, as applied, was unconstitutional.
She wrote a hundred and some odd word opinion, but it didn’t get to the US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court’s last word on it was a case called Terry v. Ohio many, many, many, many, years ago, and the Supreme Court held that, under certain circumstances at least, stop and frisk can be constitutional.”
During Monday’s debate, Holt injected one of his many “fact-check” moments into the Donald Trump’s answer to a question on the topic of the racial divide and the violence that is out of control in black urban communities.
Trump rightly took issue and tried to explain to Holt that an activist New York judge had ruled that certain parts of the stop-and-frisk policy could be viewed as unconstitutional but it was rendered to appeal. The decision never made it to the U.S. Supreme Court for a decision on constitutionality.
Holt would have none of this, however, and he moved forward with his questioning, leaving the impression the matter was open to interpretation. Given Dershowitz’s statement, Holt likely regrets that decision now.
There is an inherent danger in allowing presidential debate moderators to inject themselves into the process. It gives them undue influence over how the people perceive the candidates, and when the moderator is wrong, those perceptions can influence the election based on a non-truth.
Not only was Holt wrong on his assertion, but Trump was correct in his explanation that the only reason the case didn’t make it to the U.S. Supreme Court is that New York City’s present-day progressive mayor, Bill DeBlasio, refused to pursue the issue, opting instead to let the highly effective tool fall by the wayside.
Interesting, progressives always tout the constitutionality of something when court decisions are rendered in their favor. If a District Court or an Appeals Court rules something “constitutional or otherwise” and that ruling is in line with the progressive mindset, then the ruling is law.
When it doesn’t align with their political motives, the legitimacy of the law is always in question until the Supreme Court is engaged.
Moderators who inject themselves as “fact-checkers” install themselves as arbiters of truth and the final word on facts. When the moderators are politically ideological, those “facts” are subject to manipulation. This is a stunning disservice to the American people who may just be tuning in with an open mind.
Of course, these “debates” pale in comparison to what a real debate is supposed to be. Any high school debate team can tell you that.
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