Fact Check: Radio Host Provides NO Evidence Joe Biden Was Given Debate Questions Ahead of First Debate with Trump

Fact Check

  • by: Dean Miller
Fact Check: Radio Host Provides NO Evidence Joe Biden Was Given Debate Questions Ahead of First Debate with Trump No Evidence

Did Moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News or someone on his team give former Vice President Joe Biden a crib sheet ahead of debate #1 with President Donald Trump? No evidence nor provenance was supplied by the Republican operative who made the claim on an Iowa radio show to substantiate that before it was amplified by several other outlets.

The claim that debate questions were leaked to Biden was the subject of an article (archived here) published Sept. 29, 2020, on the website of radio host Todd Starnes. Titled "Biden Has Been Given Debate Questions in Advance" it opened:

Former Vice President Joe Biden has been given the questions to the first presidential debate in advance, noted author Jerome Corsi announced during an interview on radio station KXEL

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Biden Has Been Given Debate Questions in Advance, Says Jerome Corsi | Todd Starnes

Former Vice President Joe Biden has been given the questions to the first presidential debate in advance, noted author Jerome... View Article

Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly immediately cast doubt on the claim with a Tweet, saying "There is zero chance that's true."

When a Twitter user pushed back, asking why not, Kelly wrote: "Bc Wallace or his prep team would have to have leaked it. I know them all, and they are above reproach." Kelly was an anchor at FOX from 2004 through 2017.

MegynVouching.png

Starnes provides no direct evidence for the claim Chris Wallace or someone on the debate team had leaked the crib-sheet, citing only "word on the street" and linking to KXEL, an AM radio station in Waterloo, Iowa, where the claim was made on the local Jeff Stein talk show by Jerome Corsi, a Republican operative who has worked to spread debunked conspiracy theories including the claim Barak Obama was not born in the U.S. and the claim that Hillary Clinton operates a child sex ring.

2020-09-29.Starnes.Tweet.png

On his website, Starnes provides a SoundCloud(tm) clip of Corsi's remarks, again with no substantiating evidence.

2020-09-29.Starnes2.png

Corsi, is a former employee of InfoWars, the conspiracy-minded radio show and website. Corsi was identified as the go-between who alerted President Trump's campaign ally Roger Stone of impending WikiLeaks releases of emails embarrassing to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"The information I've just gotten, and I think it's always been accurate, is that Joe Biden has been given the questions" Corsi says on Stein's show on 1540 KXEL in Waterloo, Iowa, but does not go on to provide any information about any source -- such as documents, interviews, video, photos, etc. -- let alone the identity of the person who gave it to him.

Lead Stories has reached out to the Commission on Presidential Debates, the Biden campaign and to the Trump campaign to ask what was given to candidates ahead of the debate. This report will be updated, if appropriate, when those organizations respond.

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes toddstarnes.com as:

A website publishing conservative opinion, largely produced by commentator and columnist Todd Starnes. The site has published inaccurate and misleading claims and does not run corrections.

According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

This fact check is available at IFCN's 2020 US Elections #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.


  Dean Miller

Lead Stories staff writer Dean Miller has edited daily and weekly newspapers, worked as a reporter for more than a decade and is co-author of two non-fiction books. After a one-year Harvard Nieman Fellowship, he served as Director of Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy for six years. As Senior Vice President/Content at Connecticut Public Broadcasting, a dual licensee, he oversaw radio, TV and print journalists, and documentary producers. He moved west to teach journalism at Western Washington University, edit The Port Townsend Leader and write the twice-weekly Save The Free Press column for the Seattle Times. Miller won the 2007 national Mirror Award for news industry coverage and he led the team that won the 2005 Scripps Howard first amendment prize. 

Read more about or contact Dean Miller

Different viewpoints

Note: if reading this fact check makes you want to contact us to complain about bias, please check out our Red feed first.

About us

International Fact-Checking Organization

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Follow us on social media

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion