CNN Debuts ‘Facts First’ Real-Time Fact-Checking During White House Press Briefing

Aaron P. BernsteinGetty Images

CNN on Monday launched a new front in the seemingly never-ending fake news wars.

The White House Monday afternoon held its first press briefing in nearly a month. When it began, CNN ran the briefing live, but added a new feature called “CNN Facts First,” as pointed out on Twitter by Lis Power of Media Matters for America.

Next to video of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivering the briefing, the network aired a real-time fact-check of Sanders’ statements, including several about climate change.

At issue is a report, known as the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which was released in recent days and warned of catastrophic consequences to the climate over the long term. The president, who has long questioned the reality of climate change and is fond of denying it on cold days, has reacted by stating, “I don’t believe it.”

In the briefing, Sanders reiterated the president’s position, saying the climate report is “not based on facts” but rather on “the most extreme modeled scenario, which contradicts long established trends.” The CNN fact box, meanwhile, stated that the climate change report was the product of work from more than 300 scientists representing 13 federal agencies. And contrary to arguments – including one on CNN this week from paid contributor and former U.S. senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum that climate scientists are in it for the money- the network pointed out in the fact box that the authors were not paid for their report.

After the briefing, CNN actor Brooke Baldwin promised a more elaborate fact check, but in a very clear sign of the times, this was delayed so that Baldwin could read a series of tweets from President Trump. During the briefing, the president had attacked General Motors CEO Mary Barra for her recent announcement of layoffs and plant closings at the automaker.

Meanwhile, another cable news network, MSNBC, did not air the briefing at all, although anchor Chris Jansing said that the network would cut in “if any news is made.”

CNN and the Trump Administration have been frequently at odds essentially since Trump began running for president, with the president frequently denouncing the network as “fake news” and denouncing their reporting. Most recently, the two sides fought a legal battle in which the White House sought to revoke the permanent “hard pass” held by CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta. Acosta ultimately got the pass back, but the White House put new restrictive rules in place for reporters at the briefings.