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Screen shot from MSNBC coverage in the 9:00 p.m. hour

MSNBC and CNN cut away from live coverage of the Republican National Convention several times on Monday night in order to fact-check claims made by speakers. Fox News also cut away from several speeches, but didn't fact-check claims as aggressively.

Why it matters: There's been an ongoing debate amongst media insiders — and an advocacy campaign from progressive groups — about whether news networks should feel compelled to cut away from the RNC.

  • Earlier on Monday, a coalition of nearly a dozen progressive groups wrote a letter addressed to the heads of CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, NBCUniversal, and CBS, urging them to air the RNC on a one-minute time delay, in order to buy time to fact-check the speeches being made in real-time.
  • The groups include UltraViolet Action, ACRONYM, BlackPAC, Color of Change PAC, EMILY’s List WOMEN VOTE, Higher Heights Political Fund, MomsRising, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and #ShePersisted.

Driving the news: MSNBC cut away from at least 6 speakers on Monday and skipped some speeches entirely, including Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News host and the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr.

  • MSNBC, CNN and Fox News all cut away from Vernon Jones, a Democrat from the Georgia State House of Representatives and someone who Republicans were particularly excited about tonight, during his speech in the first hour of the RNC.
  • MSNBC spoke with Dr. Vin Gupta for a fact-check on the use of hydroxychloroquine.

CNN and MSNBC broke away from live coverage of Republican Rep. Jim Jordan when he was speaking in the 9:00 p.m. hour. MSNBC also pulled away from Rep Matt Gaetz.

  • MSNBC cut away from Rep. Jim Jordan’s remarks to fact-check Trump's record on the U.S. Postal Service. It broke away from Natalie Harp, a bone cancer survivor who spoke to the “right to try,” for a commercial break.

Both networks later cut away from a joint speech by Patricia and Mark McCloskey, the couple that went viral after pointing guns at Black Lives Matters protestors outside their house in St. Louis.

  • MSNBC fact-checked the McCloskey's claim that Democrats want to abolish the suburbs by ending single-family home zoning, writing that Biden supports fair housing initiatives.
  • In addition to TV fact-checks, CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale also issued live fact-checks on Twitter and CNN updated its "Facts First" fact-checking blog in real-time.

Fox News cut away from several speeches, including Turning Point USA's Charlie Kirk's speech in the beginning of the night, Gaetz and Guilfoyle.

  • The move drew ire from Trump supporters, including former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, who is now a senior advisor to the campaign.
  • "Can’t believe I have to watch the convention on @CNN . Unbelievable. @FoxNews," Parscale tweeted.

Yes, but: There's a concern that networks could appear biased against conservatives if they cut away from live convention programming to fact-check the RNC, but not the DNC.

  • But fact-checkers say they have no choice, given the imbalance of truth-telling between the two conventions.
  • "I think it's important for objective journalists to note how wildly imbalanced the dishonesty is between the current parties. This one half-night of Republican programming so far has been exponentially more dishonest than the entire four nights of the Democratic convention," Dale tweeted.

The bottom line: Media organizations have faced sustained criticism for airing Trump speeches and press conferences live, instead of layering on more fact-checking.

  • But live events and speeches can be difficult for networks to fact-check in real time.
  • The media most recently faced this quandary when debating whether or not to air the president's daily coronavirus briefings, in which Trump boasted unproven cures for the virus.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Nov 12, 2020 - Politics & Policy

When the news is what the news did

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When was Joe Biden elected president? The answer is: When the media declared him president.

Why it matters: Most of the time, when the media reports a major news story, some event in the world happened that is worth reporting. In this case, however, the important event was simply the fact that the media is reporting the story.

1 hour ago - Health

A safe, sane survival guide

Photo: Luka Dakskobler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

We all know, it’s getting worse.

Reality check: Here are a few things every one of us can do to stay safe and sane in coming months:

Biden's debut nightmare

President-elect Biden speaks in Wilmington on Nov. 24. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

A dim, gloomy scene seems increasingly set for Joe Biden's debut as president.

The state of play: He'll address — virtually — a virus-weary nation, with record-high daily coronavirus deaths, a flu season near its peak, restaurants and small businesses shuttered by wintertime sickness and spread.