Media fact checking of speeches and debates by national news sources is increasing -- most national events which feature speakers now garner multiple news sources checking the accuracy of the speaker or debaters. To the detriment of local readers, however, I can remember only a few times when a Wheeling "newspaper" published one of the Associated Press' (their primary source for national news) fact checks. My hunch is that they often don't publish the AP's fact check because the article is usually a long one -- it takes up more space than the papers would like and, more importantly, because the fact checker's conclusion frequently is the opposite of the locals' version of the truth. For example, from the AP fact check of last night's debate:
A claim from the second presidential debate and how it stacks up with the facts:
DONALD TRUMP: "Hillary Clinton wants to put all the miners out of business . . . The (Environmental Protection Agency) is putting our energy companies out of business."
THE FACTS: Coal companies have been battered by the rise of natural gas production more than by Obama administration regulations — although those have not helped.
A string of major coal companies has filed for bankruptcy in recent years, and layoffs and cutbacks have spread economic suffering through coal country. But despite Trump's claims about energy companies going out of business, these are boom times for natural gas extraction, mostly due to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
As for Clinton, she has said that a shift away from coal and fossil fuels is putting miners out of business, though Trump and others have sought to construe her words to mean she herself wants to put miners out of business. In fact she argues she has a policy to try to put out-of-work miners back to work and bring economic opportunity back into coal country.
Publishing such fact checks would obviously contradict the locals' couple-of-times-a-week editorials and run counter to their effort to elect Donald Trump.
Regular readers of this blog can probably guess that I enjoy reading the fact checkers. If you're interested: I thought that the Annenberg School of Public Policy did the most thorough job. I found the New York Times covered the major points well. The Washington Post provided excellent depth on a number of issues. Finally, using a different approach, NPR provided a transcript of the debate and then annotated it.