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Poll Recount Urged By Regional Blocs in Democratic Republic Of Congo

Pre-election polls indicated that Fayulu was the favorite to replace outgoing President Joseph Kabila.

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Supporters of the runner-up in Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential election, Martin Fayulu, hold up a sign ahead of a political rally in Kinshasa, DRC, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

A southern African regional bloc urged officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo Sunday to recount the votes of its recent contested presidential election.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) called for a unity government in a statement issued by Zambian President Edgar Lungu, citing examples of similar deals struck in Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi was declared the winner of elections Sunday, but runner-up Martin Fayulu has challenged the outcome of the country’s election in court, claiming that his opponent made a deal with outgoing president Joseph Kabila.

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Felix Tshisekedi, leader main DRC opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) who has been declared the winner of the presidential elections, gestures to his supporters in Kinshasa, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

Fayulu’s opposition coalition said Friday he captured 61 percent of the vote, citing figures from the Catholic Church, which placed 40,000 election observers across the Central African country. The coalition said Tshisekedi won 18 percent of the vote. By law, only the electoral commission can announce election results in Congo.

Fayulu, who has members of the Republican Guard deployed outside his home, called for a manual recount of the election.

Pre-election polls indicated that Fayulu was the favorite to replace outgoing President Joseph Kabila. Kabila backed another candidate, his former interior minister, Emmanuel Shadary.

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Congo opposition candidate Martin Fayulu greets supporters as he arrives at a rally in Kinshasha, Congo, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

Fayulu’s opposition coalition said Friday he captured 61 percent of the vote, citing figures from the Catholic Church, which placed 40,000 election observers across the Central African country. The coalition said Tshisekedi won 18 percent of the vote. By law, only the electoral commission can announce election results in Congo.

Fayulu, who has members of the Republican Guard deployed outside his home, called for a manual recount of the election.

Also Read: Congo’s President Challenges Election Result In High Court

Pre-election polls indicated that Fayulu was the favorite to replace outgoing President Joseph Kabila. Kabila backed another candidate, his former interior minister, Emmanuel Shadary. (VOA)

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Technology That Allows Real Time Fact-Check May be Here Soon

Adair stressed that his product is nonpartisan. He believes television networks will catch on at some point because they will realize that their viewers want quick fact-checking.

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Trump, Facts
Trump offers 'compromise' to end government shutdown. VOA

A Duke University team expects to have a product available for election year that will allow television networks to offer real-time fact checks onscreen when a politician makes a questionable claim during a speech or debate.

The mystery is whether any network will choose to use it.

The response to President Donald Trump’s Jan. 8 speech on border security illustrated how fact-checking is likely to be an issue over the next two years. Networks briefly considered not airing Trump live and several analysts contested some of his statements afterward, but nobody questioned him while he was speaking.

Duke already offers an app, developed by professor and Politifact founder Bill Adair, that directs users to online fact checks during political events. A similar product has been tested for television, but is still not complete.

The TV product would call on a database of research from Politifact, Factcheck.org and The Washington Post to point out false or misleading statements onscreen. For instance, Trump’s statement that 90 percent of the heroin that kills 300 Americans each week comes through the southern border would likely trigger an onscreen explanation that much of the drugs were smuggled through legal points of entry and wouldn’t be affected by a wall.

 

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Even Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the conservative Media Research Center, concedes that “we all understand that President Trump has a casual approach to factivity.” VOA

 

The Duke Tech & Check Cooperative conducted a focus group test in October, showing viewers portions of State of the Union speeches by Trump and predecessor Barack Obama with fact checks inserted. It was a big hit, Adair said.

“People really want onscreen fact checks,” he said. “There is a strong market for this and I think the TV networks will realize there’s a brand advantage to it.”

Networks mum

If that’s the case, the networks aren’t letting on. None of the broadcast or cable news divisions would discuss Duke’s product when contacted by The Associated Press, or their own philosophies on fact checking.

Network executives are likely to tread very carefully, both because of technical concerns about how it would work, the risk of getting something wrong or the suspicion that some viewers might consider the messages a political attack.

“It’s an incredibly difficult challenge,” said Mark Lukasiewicz, longtime NBC News executive who recently became dean of Hofstra University’s communications school.

Adair said the system will be automated. Mindful that many politicians repeat similar claims, the database will be triggered when code phrases that have been fact-checked before come up. An onscreen note would either explain that a claim is false or misleading and direct viewers to a website where they can find more information, or provide a succinct explanation of why it is being challenged. He envisions an average of one fact check popping up every two minutes. A network using the service would likely air the speech or debate on a delayed basis of about a minute.

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U.S. President Donald Trump. VOA

Lukasiewicz said network executives would likely be wary of letting an outside vendor decide what goes on their screen. Adair said anyone who uses the system would be given veto power over what information is being displayed.

CNN and MSNBC have been most aggressive in using onscreen notes, called chyrons, to counter misleading statements by Trump, although neither did during the border speech. Among the post-speech analyses, Shepard Smith’s rapid-fire reality check on Fox broadcast during the three-minute pause before Democrats spoke was particularly effective. But critics like the liberal watchdog Media Matters for America said anyone who turned the coverage off when Trump stopped speaking was exposed to no questioning of his words.

Complicated, cumbersome

“There is a responsibility to not just be a blind portal and just let things go unchallenged,” said David Bohrman, a former CNN Washington bureau chief who consulted on MSNBC’s 2016 election coverage. “The goal is a good one. The execution is a challenge.”

A technical junkie, Bohrman said he explored different approaches for real-time TV fact-checking while at CNN, but they ultimately proved too complicated and cumbersome.

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Network executives are likely to tread very carefully, both because of technical concerns about how it would work,. Wikimedia Commons

For networks, an incorrect onscreen fact-check would be a public relations disaster. Politicians also make many statements that a critic might question but isn’t necessarily factually incorrect. For example, Trump’s contention that there is a “crisis” at the southern border: Is that a fact or matter of interpretation?

Rest assured, people will be watching. Very carefully.

Even Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the conservative Media Research Center, concedes that “we all understand that President Trump has a casual approach to factivity.”

But conservatives are deeply suspicious that Trump’s words are being watched more carefully than those of Democrats. They will notice and take offense if Trump is corrected on the air much more than his rivals, he said, no matter if Trump actually makes more false or misleading statements.

Also Read: Technology Makes Home Items Smarter But Creepier

“People aren’t going to trust you,” he said, “because they know what the objective is. The objective is to ruin the president.”

Adair stressed that his product is nonpartisan. He believes television networks will catch on at some point because they will realize that their viewers want quick fact-checking.

“Anyone who criticizes will get criticized for criticizing,” Bohrman said. “But the reality is we may be able to help the viewers.” (VOA)