New York CNN Business  — 

The Republican National Convention is kicking off Monday, and newsrooms will have a crucial decision to make: Should TV networks intervene if President Donald Trump or other speakers lie?

“All the networks need to cover this as a major medical disinformation campaign,” said Amanda Carpenter, author of “Gaslighting America,” on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” show Sunday. “There’s a lot of low-information voters tuning in for the first time…. The networks have a higher responsibility to keep people safe.”

Carpenter said networks should be unafraid to “break in” and put experts on air alongside the convention to correct the record if speakers lie.

Brian Stelter, CNN’s chief media correspondent and anchor of “Reliable Sources,” said he expects the Republican convention to be an airing of grievances and falsehoods.

“We can expect, sadly, misinformation about voting,” Stelter predicted.

But cutting in will be difficult, because TV networks are expected to cover the Democratic and Republican conventions evenly and fairly.

If networks to cut away to fact check, “that presents an immediate imbalance” compared to how the Democratic National Convention was covered, noted Peter Hamby, a contributing writer to Vanity Fair and host at Snapchat’s “Good Luck America.” Hamby predicted that CNN and MSNBC with “both be up again” when it comes to viewership during the RNC.

Stelter said, “The networks have the power to cut away” from the RNC this coming week if Trump begins to share false information.” But Hamby disagreed, saying, “The President of the United States has the ultimate power,” which surpasses news networks’ abilities to decide to air his remarks or not.

“If CNN covers with punditry, it’s an imbalance from how DNC was covered,” Hamby said. “Even if CNN is interrupting with medical expertise, what is stopping Republicans from saying, ‘Here the media goes again?’ That’s where the power lies – they win either way.”


The Democratic National Convention was produced in a different format this year, going almost entirely virtual with more than 500 people contributing to the production.

“There were hundreds of people on our team,” Ricky Kirshner, the executive producer of the DNC, told Stelter.

Kirshner has produced Democratic conventions since 1992, as well as Super Bowl halftime shows and the Tony awards. He’s won nine Emmy awards for his work, and he was nominated for two more this year.

“I think what we know is that enthusiastic Democrats tuned in, but others many not have,” noted Axios media reporter Sara Fischer, adding that it would be “wrong” to say that the “engagement and enthusiasm wasn’t there” for the virtual DNC.