The Skittles Meter: Fact-checking results from the U.S. debate

We tracked the number of lies in the Clinton-Trump debate with campaign-relevant candy, live. Here are the results.


The first debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential election is now in the books. And because it has been a heated campaign with the claims from both Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump proving to be loosely tethered to reality, Maclean’s created the Skittles Meter—a measure of the debate’s outright lies, counted in the candy most closely associated with the campaign.

Here’s how it worked:

1. A team of Maclean’s editors closely followed and verified fact-checking from a curated list of trusted sources on Twitter and elsewhere. That list, which makes up a good chunk of this fact-checking aggregation is here.

2. Every time a fact-checker notes a lie*, we added a blue (Clinton) or red (Trump) Skittle to the appropriate space, and wrote the offending lie—and the correct fact—on the whiteboard.

3. We tweeted a link to the fact-check from our Twitter account @SkittlesMeter.

Here’s what we found: At the end of the debate, the tally was 25 for Trump, 4 for Clinton. But the fact-checking work has continued. Check back for more!

TRUMP CLAIMS: Ford is leaving America.
FACT: Ford says the number of jobs in the U.S. will remain the same, through expansion.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: Got a “small loan” from his father.
FACT: The loan totalled USD $14-million.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: Trump says China is using the U.S. as a “piggy bank.”
FACT: China is lending the U.S. money.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: He never said climate change was a China hoax.
FACT: He tweeted that global warming was “created by and for the Chinese.”
Source here.

CLINTON CLAIMS: She never said the Trans-Pacific Partnership was the “gold standard.”
FACT: She said that the TPP “set the gold standard” in 2012.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: He’d mostly cut taxes for the middle class.
FACT: The plan would raise taxes for a lot of the middle class.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: That “thousands of jobs” are leaving Michigan.
FACT: The state’s unemployment rate has gone down from 14.9 per cent in 2009 to 4.5 per cent.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: That Clinton has been fighting ISIS her “whole adult life.”
FACT: The Islamic State was formed in the early 2000s.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: He can’t release his taxes because of an audit.
FACT: The IRS says they can be released, and the first President to do so—Richard Nixon—released his during an audit.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: Financial disclosures are better than tax returns.
FACT: Tax returns are better than financial disclosures.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: Clinton has had “30 years” in national policy.
FACT: Clinton’s earliest work on national policy would likely have come in 1992.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: He never said that he would negotiating down debt.
FACT: In May 2016, he said, “You could make a deal.”
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: Clinton would “raise taxes $1.3 trillion.”
FACT: That number comes from a right-wing thinktank. A nonpartisan report says the number is closer to $498 billion over 10 years.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: Clinton intentionally deleted emails.
FACT: The FBI found no evidence of that.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: Illegal immigrants are more violent.
FACT: There is no proof of that, and the sample size of violent crimes is too small and inconsistent.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: There has been a 20-year decline in New York crime due to stop-and-frisk.
FACT: The decline was due to multiple factors.
Source here.

CLINTON CLAIMS: If you’re too dangerous to fly, you’re too dangerous to own a gun.
FACT: The no-fly list has frequently been called out for including a lot of non-dangerous people.
Source here.

CLINTON CLAIMS: She’ll make college “debt-free”.
FACT: Tuition-free does not mean debt-free, as it doesn’t include the significant costs of books and board.

TRUMP CLAIMS: Clinton’s 2008 campaign started the Obama birther rumour.
FACT: There’s no evidence that her campaign spread it.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: Murders are up in New York City under Mayor Bill De Blasio.
FACT: Murders have dropped to a historic low.
Source here.

CLINTON CLAIMS: Too many African-American and Latino men ended up in jail for nonviolent crimes.
FACT: Mass incarceration is largely not driven by nonviolent crime.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: He has a “great relationship” with African-Americans.
FACT: A June poll shows he has one per cent support among that community.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: Clinton “wrong” when she says he didn’t support war in Iraq.
FACT: Trump supported war on Iraq.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: ISIS was formed when U.S. troops left Iraq.
FACT: The roots of ISIS can be traced back to 2004.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: ISIS is making “a fortune” on Libyan oil.
FACT: ISIS controls no oil fields.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: Went on Neil Cavuto’s radio show and said he opposed the Iraq war.
FACT: He only said that “the Iraqi situation is a problem”.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: That Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) endorsed him.
FACT: A union representing some ICE employees did, but not ICE—that would break federal law.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: That he didn’t say Clinton lacked the “presidential look.”
FACT: Trump said that in early September.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: “I never said that” about pregnancy being “an inconvenience for a business.”
FACT: He said that pregnancy was “certainly an inconvenience” in 2004.
Source here.

TRUMP CLAIMS: This is the worst recovery since the Great Depression.
FACT: The weakest recovery occurred under George W. Bush.
Source here.

CLINTON CLAIMS: George W. Bush made the decision on when to pull troops from Iraq.
FACT: Agreement was open to renegotiation.
Source here.


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