Donald Trump as Twitter bird

Illustration by Bruno Moraes

It's known as the Big League Truth team.

Donald Trump's campaign is enlisting supporters to "fact-check" the presidential debates on social media in order to counter fact-checking efforts by news organizations. 

The Republican presidential nominee asked his followers on Monday to join the "Big League Truth Team" and fact-check the debates live. According to emailed instructions sent by the Trump campaign to those who sign up, members will receive emails and texts from campaign before, during, and after Tuesday night's vice presidential debate and the two remaining presidential debates. Big League Truth Team members are being asked by the campaign to spread the fact-checks via Facebook, Twitter, and email. 

The new rapid-response initiative appears to be a move by Trump to counter the wave of fact-checks by Politifact, Factcheck.org, and numerous media outlets. 

Language from the Big League Truth Team's website calls the mainstream media "rigged" and presents a call to arms to Trump supporters to fact-check "Crooked Hillary" live during the debates. 

"We cannot count on the rigged MSM to bring the truth to the American people," says the Big League Truth Team website. 

Trump campaign digital director Brad Parscale enlisted members of Reddit's r/The_Donald community to use the #BigLeagueTruth hashtag on Twitter during the debates or whenever "big news" related to the Trump campaign drops and block efforts by Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign to take over the hashtag. 

Both pro-Trump and pro-Clinton hashtags have been taken over by their opponent's supporters in the past. The hashtag #TrumpWon began trending on Twitter soon after the first presidential debate, despite Trump's widely criticized performance, due in part to people who were using it sarcastically.  

"The MSM will try to block us, Hillary’s team will try to steal the hashtag, and it’ll be a fight to get the truth out to the American people that make this country great. And that’s why I’m posting here. We will not succeed without your help, pushing the facts with #BigLeagueTruth on social," wrote Parscale on Reddit. 

Trump has previously said he's opposed to fact-checking by debate moderator, arguing that it's the job of the candidates themselves to hold each other accountable. 

Those who visit BigLeagueTruth.com are asked for their basic contact information, including their Twitter handle. Volunteers who signed up to be a member of the Big League Truth Team were sent the following email: 

Thank you for joining the team.
We have serious work to do.
Before, during and after each debate we will send you messages we need you to spread online.
Use Twitter, Facebook, Email and any other tool you have to spread what we send you.
Sometimes we'll text you and sometimes we'll email you.
Be ready.
We can't fight both the media and Hillary without your help.
We're counting on you.
That's all for now. Remember the debate schedule. Plan ahead. Be ready.
  • Oct 4, 9 P.M. EDT, at Longwood University, Farmville, Virginia (VP Debate).
  • Oct. 9, 9 P.M. EDT, at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Oct. 19, 9 P.M. EDT, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Thank you very much,
The Big League Truth Team
PS: If you have a friend you think should join the #BigLeagueTruth Team, send them this link: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/landing/rapid-response

Vounteers were also sent the following text messages, with one directing them to a welcome video featuring Trump himself. 

Amrita Khalid/iPhone


Amrita Khalid/iPhone

Conservatives in the past have accused well-known fact-checkers like Politifact and Factcheck.org for exhibiting a liberal bias. Fact-checkers have been accused of giving less attention to the lies of Democrats, and when they do, of being less harsh in their assessment. A 2013 study by the George Mason University Center for Media and Public Affairs found that fact-checkers are three times more likely to rate claims made by Republicans as false than Democrats. 

Trump's tendency to stretch the truth in the last year broke records at fact-checking organizations Politifact, the Washington Post's Fact Checker, and Factcheck.org.

“In the 12 years of FactCheck.org’s existence, we’ve never seen [... Trump's] match,”states Factcheck.org on its site. 

Politifact has performed a total of 274 fact-checks of Trump, about 4 percent more than the 263 fact-checks it has run on Clinton. Where the candidates differ is in how they perform. Going off of Politifact's assessment, Trump flat-out lies more often than Clinton, but Clinton is more likely to misrepresent facts, tell half-truths, or leave out key details to help push her ideas. Most of Trump's claims are rated as "false" and "pants on fire," whereas most of Clinton's claims check out as "mostly true" or "half true."

Politifact assessed Trump's performance during the first presidential debate as 4 percent "true," 11 percent "mostly true," 15 percent "half true," 17 percent "mostly false," 34 percent "false," and 18 percent "pants on fire." Clinton's Politfact scorecard, on the other hand, is far better. Her comments were 22 percent "true," 28 percent "mostly true," 22 percent "half true," 15 percent "mostly false," 11 percent "false," and 2 percent "pants on fire."

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