Posts on social media wildly exaggerate the number of times President Donald Trump’s name and the word “free” were used during the first 2020 Democratic presidential debates.
The first Democratic debates in the 2020 presidential election were held last week, and 20 candidates sparred on a variety of issues. (In case you missed it, we fact-checked a number of false and misleading claims made by the candidates on both the first and second night.)
But popular social media posts have used erroneous statistics to falsely describe the debate.
“DNC Debate: ‘Trump’ was said 1,326 times, ‘Free’ was said 683 times, Spanish was spoken 14 times, and ‘America’ was said twice,” the posts read.
The posts don’t specify whether that’s a reference to the first or second night of the nearly four-hour, two-part debate, which was hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo. The numbers are far off, either way.
We searched the NBC News transcripts of both debates and found that, including moderator questions: “Trump” was mentioned 64 times; the word “free” was uttered 17 times; and “America” was said 85 times (including four references to “Central America” or “Latin America,” but not including the more than 100 references to “American” or “Americans”).
As for the claim that “Spanish was spoken 14 times,” we identified 11 instances of a candidate or moderator speaking Spanish or using a Spanish word within their remarks during the two nights.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.
“Democratic Presidential Debate – June 26 (Full).” NBC News. YouTube. 26 Jun 2019.
“Democratic Presidential Debate – June 27 (Full).” NBC News. YouTube. 27 Jun 2019.
“Full transcript: 2019 Democratic debate Night One, sortable by topic.” NBC News. 27 Jun 2019.
“Full transcript: 2019 Democratic debate Night Two, sortable by topic.” NBC News. 28 Jun 2019.