Fox News did something like this to Trump during a debate in early March, confronting him with things he’d said before that contradicted his newly stated position, but those were special circumstances. CNN’s treatment of what he said about nukes and Japan yesterday suggests that this might be standard practice now.
It’s a good idea and he deserves it but I’ll stick up for him in this case: Will they do the same to Hillary? America’s been richly blessed this year with two notorious liars as major-party nominees so there’s no reason, apart from ideological bias, for media outlets to limit this approach. Hillary’s lies tend to be more lawyerly than Trump’s, often without the sort of soundbite-ready compare-and-contrast direct contradiction you see here, so the gotchas won’t always be as easy. But they’re out there. Lots of them. Remember, when voters are asked straight up which of the two nominees is more honest and trustworthy, Trump leads comfortably. When you’re covering an election involving someone whose name is practically a byword for mendacity among the general population, you’re a-gonna have to cast a critical eye her way too.
And if we’re going to pull it on would-be presidents in Trump and Hillary, there’s no reason to stop there.
Honestly: Why don’t they do this routinely, in all manner of news but especially political news? It’s not enough to fact-check a dishonest pol after the fact given how quickly news moves now. You need to be able to do it as it’s happening. There’s no reason why, with a small team of dedicated researchers who’ve done their homework, you couldn’t do “Pop-Up Video” style graphics during a live Trump or Clinton rally if/when they say something that’s untrue. Or rather, there’s no logistical reason why. If one of your pop-up fact-checks was wrong and misled viewers about something the candidate said, as would inevitably happen, the network would be attacked viciously online by fans of that candidate. That’s one reason not to do it. Even if the fact-check wasn’t wrong, a particularly aggressive news outlet could find itself punished by losing access to the candidate for airing it. The famously vindictive Clintons are known to keep actual enemies’ lists whereas Trump is so valuable to cable news as a ratings booster that he can’t afford to be alienated as a simple bottom-line matter. Even so, it’d be a fun project for an online outlet like BuzzFeed with lots of dough (and an oppo research unit already set up within its news department) to start airing its own feed of rallies with pop-up fact-check commentary. Access isn’t as important to them. And it’s an opportunity to show the big boys up.