September 12, 2019

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Good Thursday morning. We start today by getting you ready for tonight’s Democratic presidential debate.

Just the facts, please, in tonight’s debate

The Democratic presidential hopefuls will take part in another debate tonight. Most of us will watch and then declare a winner based on who had the most clever one-liners or snarkiest attacks.

But while we’re looking at style, fact-checkers will be looking at substance. They will sift through the promises and attacks, the claims and defenses. And the fact-checkers will be there to not only find out whose pants are on fire, but to help us make us sense of what we’re watching.

I asked PolitiFact editor Angie Holan what she and PolitiFact, which is owned by Poynter, look for during a debate.

“We definitely look for moments when the candidates challenge each other on the facts or tell each other they’re wrong,” Holan said. “We also look for attack lines with factual claims that either aren’t widely known or easily recalled. Finally, we’re always on the lookout for comments that would make a regular person say, ‘Hmm, I wonder if that’s true?’”

Tonight’s debate will be the first time all the major candidates will share the stage together. That’s because only 10 have qualified for the debate. And there’s a showdown that everyone is waiting for.

“For this debate, we’re watching to see how Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren interact,” Holan said. “They’re two candidates with significant policy differences on health care, financial regulations and their own campaign finance practices.”

Dems say they’re apples to Trump’s orange

Donald Trump arrives at a recent campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

As fact-checkers hunker down tonight to keep an eye on Democratic presidential hopefuls, the Democrats will be keeping an eye on the fact-checkers. Politico’s Michael Calderone writes that Democrats are irked by “fact checkers who appear to give their esoteric policy disputes and faulty recollections the same weight as (President Donald) Trump’s daily whoppers and spreading of self-serving myths like that of millions of fraudulent voters.”

Calderone points to several examples of when big and repeated lies by Trump are treated the same as Democrat claims that might misrepresent a number or small part of a claim.

Calderone writes, “Trump’s bold lies and spreading of disinformation — which have been regularly cited by almost every mainstream news organization — are a core part of their case against him. But when those same outlets begin parsing Democrats for using questionable data and making exaggerations, they create the impression that everyone’s a fibber. When it comes to lying, Democrats say, Donald Trump has once again broken the bounds of politics as usual, and the media is only helping him by enforcing the old rules.”

Who will be America’s next top candidate?

“ABC World News Tonight” anchor David Muir, shown here in April, will be one of the moderators of tonight’s Democratic presidential debate.  (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Tonight will be the first time in three rounds of debates that all the major candidates will be on the stage together. That’s because only 10 candidates have qualified: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.

That probably brings a new element that we haven’t seen in the first two rounds of debates, which were both divided over two nights.

“I think having all of the candidates on stage, knowing that one of the people on that stage will go on to be the nominee, brings a new level of clarity and energy to the debates,” Buttigieg told ABC News in New Hampshire on Sunday.

We can only assume, although it appears likely, that one of the hopefuls will emerge as the eventual Democratic candidate.

The debate will air from 8-11 p.m. Eastern. It will be televised on ABC and Univision and moderated by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir, ABC correspondent Linsey Davis and Univision’s Jorge Ramos.


A 90-second pitch to floor voters

Yahoo News is launching a new video series today called “The Elevator Pitch.” Here’s how it works: Presidential candidates go on camera and give their campaign’s elevator pitch in 90 seconds or less. Some even have gotten on an actual elevator for the extra challenge.

So far, the series includes Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, Tim Ryan, Michael Bennet, Bill Weld and John Delaney.

I’m not sure I’m crazy about candidates only having 90 seconds to fully relay their thoughts on important and complicated issues such as health care, guns, immigration, climate and the economy. Then again, it’s a chance to see the candidates in a slightly different light that could invite viewers into the door to explore more.

WaPo Express goes fast, outraging union

Riders aboard the Metro in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Express, a free weekday newspaper published by The Washington Post for Metro riders and other commuters, will cease publishing today after 16 years. As a result, 20 staffers will lose their jobs. The reason? A familiar refrain: the paper is losing money, according to The Post.

The Post’s Paul Farhi called the Express “colorful and lively,” and said it was “designed to be a fast read for public-transit commuters each morning, especially people who didn’t subscribe to The Post. It featured eye-catching and sometimes cheeky cover illustrations that highlighted a single news story or trend, often one underplayed by The Post or ignored by TV newscasts.”

The paper included versions of stories that appeared in The Post, as well as original work. According to The Post, Express went from a circulation of 190,000 people per day at its height in 2007 to about 130,00 a day. Farhi pointed out that the Metro installing WiFi might have doomed the paper.

The Washington Post Guild put out a statement saying it was “outraged” by the news that 20 staffers would lose their jobs. The Guild wrote, “We hope Washington Post management will honor this dedication to our journalistic mission and find employment in our newsroom for our colleagues now without jobs.”

Atlantic spreads its boundaries with new hire

Luise Stauss has been named the first director of photography for The Atlantic. In a statement, The Atlantic’s editor-in-chief Jeffrey Golberg said, “As we emphasize quality and aesthetic sophistication, our goal is to make The Atlantic an industry leader in photography. Luise is the exact right person to lead this effort.”

Wow, industry leader in photography? Not necessarily what one might expect from The Atlantic, which is known for its sharp writing and thought-provoking opinions. Stauss’ resume includes launching T Magazine and senior photo editor at The New York Times Magazine.

Hot type

Why is there a photo of My Little Pony in The Poynter Report? Keep reading, please. (Charles Sykes/AP Images for Hasbro)

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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