Trump Lied Over a Dozen Times in Debate, but Biden's Fracking Falsehood Went Viral

The final presidential debate of the 2020 election took place on Thursday night as President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden clashed on a number of key issues.

One topic in particular gained huge attention the morning after the debate: fracking. Trump accused Biden of saying he'd ban fracking. Biden challenged him to "show the tape" if he had proof.

On Friday, Trump did just that, sharing a video on Twitter featuring clips of Biden saying he'd end fracking, eliminate fossil fuels and refuse to provide subsidies for both. The video has had more than 10 million views so far.

However, the president made more than a dozen false or misleading claims over the course of the debate—none of which have gone viral like Biden's comments on fracking.

As a fact-check from the Los Angeles Times points out, Trump falsely claimed that 2.2 million people "were expected to die" from COVID-19. These projections were based on WHO figures if no actions were taken at all to arrest the virus. More than 220,000 Americans have died from the disease.

Trump also said: "We have a vaccine that's coming, that's ready, that's going to be announced within weeks." The president has repeatedly suggested that a COVID vaccine will be available before or near the election, but public health experts have consistently disputed that, including Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

In addition, the president again claimed to have banned travel from China in January. This is false. While he restricted travel from China, it was not an outright ban. There were many exemptions and 40,000 people flew from China to the U.S. between January and April, according to the New York Times.

Here you go @JoeBiden!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2020

Trump's claim that Biden wants to ban fracking also isn't accurate. Though he's made various comments on the matter, Biden's position is to ban fracking on federal land. The majority of fracked oil and gas doesn't come from federal land.

Fracking is an important issue, particularly in the key swing state of Pennsylvania. Biden is leading by 6.2 percent in the state, according to poll tracker FiveThirtyEight. Polls have tightened since Biden's lead hit a high of 7.3 points on October 11. Trump won there narrowly in 2016.

"I am not banning fracking, no matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me," Biden said on a visit to Pittsburgh on August 31.

Trump's video about Biden and fracking has gone viral despite the president making several major misleading statements himself. This may be due to his greater online reach.

Trump's Twitter account has 87.3 million followers and he's used it as a primary means of communication with the public since running for the Republican nomination in 2016. The 43-second video is short enough to be watched quickly and the tweet can be shared with a simple click. It has already been retweeted more than 108,000 times.

By contrast, Biden's account has just 11.4 million followers and has a much more traditional—and possibly less engaging—approach. The president's campaign has also been criticized for focusing too heavily on an online audience, which may help produce more viral content.

Another aspect of why Trump's false claims haven't gotten as much attention as Biden's may be that many voters have accepted that the president frequently makes misleading statements. The same is not true for Biden, whose misleading statements have been frequently highlighted by the Trump campaign.

A Redfield and Wilton Strategies poll for Newsweek, published this week, showed that 54 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that lying had become more acceptable in American politics in recent years. Just 45 percent of those who planned to vote for Trump agreed that lying was now more acceptable, compared to 67 percent of Biden voters. The poll was taken on 17 and 18 October among 3,150 registered voters.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Trump is averaging around 50 false or misleading claims a day. The Post also noted that Trump has made 22,247 false or misleading statement since coming to office. The tally does not include any comments after August 27.

Trump's Twitter video continued to rack up views and shares on Friday despite fact-checking disputing the president's claim that Biden wants to ban fracking.

Biden Checks His Watch at the Debate
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden checks his watch during the final presidential debate against U.S. President Donald Trump (shown in reflection) at Belmont University on October 22, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the last debate between the two candidates before the election on November 3. Trump's misleading statements have won less attention than Biden's comments on fracking. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images