Journalists have been caught in a fierce post-election crossfire, accused by the president and his team of ignoring or condoning a massive wave of voter fraud.
“The media is just as corrupt as the election itself,” Trump tweeted over the weekend.
But news organizations that have insisted on reporting the facts are being vindicated as the Trump campaign’s arguments have so far failed in court and his legal team is undergoing an upheaval. This includes Fox News, which called the election for Joe Biden along with the other networks and has drawn the president’s wrath because he has valued the high-profile support of some of its opinion hosts.
It’s possible that the president’s side will still produce widespread evidence of fraud, but in the wake of a scathing judge’s opinion in Pennsylvania, that seems increasingly unlikely.
Chris Christie, a longtime Trump ally, called the president’s legal team a “national embarrassment” on ABC. Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey says Trump has lost the election and it’s time to move on. National Review is ripping “Trump’s Disgraceful Gambit,” saying he’s “turning a narrow election defeat into a bid for infamy.” So this is not just the liberal media.
On Sunday night, the campaign threw Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell under the bus, announcing that she is “practicing law on her own.” Powell, who represents Michael Flynn, had not only been announced as part of the legal team but was at the widely criticized presser last week with Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, who issued the disavowal statement.
It was there that Powell weaved a conspiracy theory about the late Hugo Chavez and Dominion voting machines, despite offering no evidence and not making these claims in court. Fox’s Tucker Carlson said Powell had failed to offer him a shred of evidence and then told him to stop contacting her.
Over the weekend, Powell went further on Newsmax, saying Georgia’s top Republicans (Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger) were taking payoffs as part of the alleged scandal--again without evidence. And Powell claimed on Fox Business that “dead people” had voted in “massive numbers” for Biden.
In tossing a campaign suit that he said would disenfranchise nearly 7 million voters in Pennsylvania, a federal judge said the Trump campaign had assembled a “Frankenstein’s monster,” using “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.” The campaign plans to appeal, but Biden’s lead in the state is up to 81,000 votes.
What has most unnerved Washington is the president’s attempt to persuade Republican legislators to flip their states by naming pro-Trump delegates to the Electoral College. That’s why he had top Michigan Republicans to the White House, although they emerged with a statement saying they have no plans to interfere with the vote count, which has Biden ahead by 150,000. This seems more like an attempt at overturning the election by raw political muscle than legitimate legal tactics. But the tactic failed in Michigan, which yesterday certified Biden’s win.
The media are now in full-blown opposition to the incumbent. On “Meet the Press,” Chuck Todd accused Trump of an “assault on our democracy.” On “State of the Union,” Jake Tapper said Trump was trying to “undermine democracy” through a “coup” that he called “clownish.”
It’s natural that news outlets that have spent four years depicting this president as a dangerous, norm-busting liar feel vindicated now that he’s trying to hold onto power with claims that judges are rejecting.
But it’s also true that the media have lost credibility by too often assuming the role of an opposition party, especially those who relentlessly promoted the Russian collusion narrative as a way of delegitimizing his presidency. A major chunk of the country no longer views the press as a fair arbiter of just about anything.
Trump’s insistence on a stolen election may have more to do with laying the groundwork for a four-year stretch as a Republican kingmaker, and possibly another run in 2024.
But while his most loyal supporters blame the media for downplaying corruption, the facts at this point all point to a Biden inauguration in two months. To suggest that Trump is suddenly going to discover enough fraudulent votes to flip three states may be fine for political cheerleaders, but it’s not journalism.