Dickerson was the featured speaker at an NLP breakfast in Washington. He was joined on the set of the Sunday public affairs show by Chip Reid, a CBS national correspondent and a volunteer NLP journalist fellow.
Reid said NLP’s mission is even more crucial these days because politicians “can put obviously false information out there and just walk away from it. ... In the past, when someone said something that was absolutely false, there was some admission or correction.”
Dickerson, who is also the network’s political director, explained why candidates in the 2016 presidential campaign, particularly Donald Trump, can repeatedly make false statements without seeming to pay a price for it with their supporters.
“To them, the candidate may be wrong on the facts, but they’re speaking to a larger truth,” he said, “You’re never going to fix that with a fact-check.”
Dickerson also noted that polls show that neither Trump, the leading Republican candidate, nor Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is considered trustworthy by many voters.
Referring to Abraham Lincoln, he said, “If ‘Honest Abe’ was the chief characteristic of the greatest president ever, it is no longer highly valued.”
When candidates lie, “you call them on it,” Dickerson said. But, he added, when they refuse to acknowledge that they have done so, “at some point, there are diminishing returns” in continuing to challenge them.