Speed Reads

final 2020 debate

Trump 'yet again broke the fact-check meter' in the final presidential debate, while Biden made a 'few gaffes'

"President Trump yet again broke the fact-check meter at the second presidential debate, while Democratic nominee Joe Biden made relatively few gaffes," target="_blank">The Washington Post's fact-check team concluded after Thursday's final presidential debate of 2020.

"The facts took a hit right out of the gate Thursday night," target="_blank">The Associated Press concurred. "Trump's first line of the night, about COVID-19 deaths, was false," and he "misrepresented the reality of the pandemic in myriad and familiar ways, insisting against obvious reality that the pandemic is drawing to a close." At times, Biden "was selective on the coronavirus and other matters, at one point stating that no one under ObamaCare lost private health coverage," AP adds. "Millions did."

"Biden was far from perfect — he had some false claims, he had some misleading claims, and some claims lacking in context," CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale said, pointing specifically to anti-fracking comments Biden made during the Democratic primary. "But again, it's just apples and oranges, no comparison in the frequency and generally the magnitude of the false claims from these two candidates."

Trump "is running for re-election on a strategy of serial, deliberate dishonesty, and it's getting worse," Dale said. "The version of Trump we got in this debate is worse from a fact-check perspective, from an honestly perspective, than the Trump we got in that first debate, even though he was more belligerent in the first debate. His rallies are also getting more dishonest. And it's just a bombardment. I mean, literally his first sentence tonight was inaccurate — I don't know if I've ever seen that before in a debate."

"I think the most important piece of dishonestly from either candidate is Trump's repeated insistence that the pandemic is going away or rounding some sort of turn or corner," Dale added. "This is getting worse and worse and the president keeps saying it's getting better and it's about to vanish." Watch CNN's super-cut of Dale tackling false claims — and incidentally get a recap of some of the debate's key moments — below. Peter Weber