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(Jillian Banner/Poynter) (Jillian Banner/Poynter)

(Jillian Banner/Poynter)

Josie Hollingsworth
By Josie Hollingsworth October 21, 2020

PolitiFact is gearing up to fact-check the 2020 presidential candidates in their final debate. And, no, we won’t bury the lede: In a change by the debate commission, the candidates will have their microphones cut off while their opponent delivers his first two-minute answer to each moderator question.

Follow our live fact-checking during the debate >>

President Donald Trump called this change "very unfair." As we noted in our fact-checking of the first debate, Trump’s interruptions of both Democratic nominee Joe Biden and moderator Chris Wallace threw the first presidential debate of 2020 into a state of confusion. This format change is meant to try to address that. And, hopefully, it will help our staff better hear the claims worthy of fact-checking. 

PolitiFact will fact-check the debate in real time on our website. Sign up for PolitiFact’s email to get a link to our fact-checking ahead of the debate. 

Here’s how to watch:

When: Thursday, Oct. 22, from 9 to 10:30 p.m. ET

Where: Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.

Who’s moderating? NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker. Welker co-moderated a Democratic primary debate with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchell.

Who will be on the debate stage? Trump and Biden will debate one another for the second time. 

How do I watch? You can watch the debate on your local news channels, cable news or CSPAN. Online feeds from PBS, CSPAN and others will be available on YouTube and other streaming platforms.

What’s the format? The debate will be divided into six, 15-minute segments. The topics are: fighting Covid-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership. There will not be opening or closing statements.

How will PolitiFact fact-check the debate? At PolitiFact, we’ve been fact-checking presidential politics since 2007, and we’ve published more than 18,000 fact-checks on our Truth-O-Meter. We’ve already done a lot of work preparing. We have a long list of claims that Trump or Biden might say; combined, we’ve checked them more than 1,000 times.

Instead of assessing the candidates’ delivery or charisma, we’ll be listening for specific factual claims that need verification.

Catch up with the latest PolitiFact fact-checking of Election 2020:

  • Extremely Pennsylvania: Biden said "The boilermakers union has endorsed me." That's False.

  • More Pennsylvania: Trump recently said "We’re putting our great coal miners back to work." Mostly False. Before the pandemic, there were about as many coal miners in the U.S. as there were when Trump took office, roughly 50,000. 

  • Biden also said "All the billionaires in America, their net worth combined … has increased by $800 billion" during the pandemic. That’s Mostly True. 

  • Talking about the federal debt before the coronavirus pandemic, Trump said, "we were starting to get that number down." False.
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At PolitiFact, we are committed to fact-checking newsworthy, questionable and interesting claims, regardless of who said them. Read more about our process of how we select claims to check.

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How to watch the final 2020 presidential debate