A quick pre-election pitch.
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Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller appeared on ABC's “This Week” on Sunday and lied repeatedly about how votes are counted in America. Claiming that tabulations done after Election Day, which states have lawfully done in America for 100 years, are akin to trying to "steal" votes via "nonsense" and "hijacks," Miller's ugly claims were met with silence from ABC host George Stephanopoulos, who did nothing to push back against the Trump campaign's public, ongoing effort to undermine free and fair elections in this country.
It's part of an unnerving media trend of not calling out Trump lies, and specifically not labeling them as he barnstorms across the country trying to demolish faith in public elections. Wasting nearly all of Trump's first term hiding behind claims that he was merely spreading "inaccuracies" or he was "misinformed," the press has allowed Trump’s pathology to become normalized.
What Trump's now pushing goes far beyond the long-running, and bogus, conservative claims that U.S. elections are riddled with frauds, and that laws need to be passed to make it more difficult for Americans to vote. It also extends beyond the series of court battles across the United State that Republicans have waged trying to limit the time and opportunities voters have to send in early ballots.
What Trump is now promoting is stunningly simple: Don't tally all the votes. Specifically, he's lying about how votes are tabulated by the states days after Election Day, regardless if television networks declare a winner on Election Night.
On Monday, he claimed we "must have a final total by Nov. 3," which Twitter flagged as misleading and blocked users from seeing on their feeds. He made the incorrect claim that it’s “totally inappropriate” to count ballots after Election Day. (Voting ends on Election Day, the counting can continue for days and weeks.) Trump also suggested election results can't be trusted because voters can change their votes after they've been cast.
The lies are unprecedented for a presidential nominee, as is Trump's attempt to damage centuries of American election laws and guidelines. Yet much of the news coverage treats it all as merely a unique campaign strategy. "Trump advisers said their best hope was if the president wins Ohio and Florida is too close to call early in the night, depriving Mr. Biden a swift victory and giving Mr. Trump the room to undermine the validity of uncounted mail-in ballots in the days after," the New York Times reported matter-of-factly this weekend, without a hint of how stunning and dangerous that is to our democracy.
“If Trump’s “best hope” is stealing the election, newspaper should say that’s what he’s contemplating, and not describe it as a “best hope,” noted Crooked Media’s Brian Beutler.
Or the press frames the Trump attacks on election integrity as a partisan issue. When Republicans in North Carolina recently lost one of their countless, preemptive legal attempts to prevent absentee ballots from being tabulated, the Associated Press reported that was a win for "Democrats." In truth, it was a win for democracy, period.
During the final presidential debate before an audience of more than 60 million viewers, Trump told 11 separate voting lies. "This is going to be a fraud like you've never seen," he claimed, then insisted election officials were going to lose "30 and 40 percent" of all early ballots. "It's a fraud, and it's a shame." He later added, "It's a rigged election."
The media reaction to Trump's barrage of Election Day falsehoods that night? They actually toasted his debate performance as being "normal." "He spoke with an inside voice," reported the Times. "He interrupted little." It's stunning that the President of the United States lying nonstop about election integrity didn't strike many journalists as being newsworthy. (When some in the press did address the blatant lies, they got downgraded to "disinformation.")
That's what Trump has accomplished over four years — he's made the unbelievable seem normal in the eyes of the press corps.
What could be a more fundamental responsibility for the President of the United States than keeping citizens safe and promoting democracy? Not only is Trump not doing either this campaign, he’s actively doing the opposite—he’s purposefully putting lives in danger. And he’s purposefully trying to make sure votes aren’t counted.
It’s the most brazen attack on our democracy in American campaign history. And the press is missing the story by once again refusing to be aggressively honest with its reporting. Afraid of being accused of taking sides during the election season, the press avoids telling the full horror of the Trump campaign as he proudly sets out to destroy free and fair elections in America.
That's why you don't see any "Trump Lies About Voting" headlines from the campaign trail, even though that's what he's doing every day. Even though it's the most important story of the election season, carrying deep implications for our democracy, news outlets don't want to dwell on it. Instead, they vaguely hint that Trump is embracing "chaos" and "sowing doubt" on the campaign trail; timid descriptions that do nothing to convey the significance of Trump's attacks on democracy.
Imagine the horrified, stop-the-presses, impeach-him-now coverage if during his re-election run Obama, at rally after rally, had told nonstop lies about the voting process and told Democrats the election was going to be “rigged”?
Trump's proud authoritarianism is defining his re-election campaign. It’s not the press' job to look away.
⚾️ GOOD STUFF:
Benjamin Ginsburg has played hardball on behalf of the Republican Party for several decades. A consumate Beltway insider, Ginsburg served as counsel for the GOP, national counsel for George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaign, aided the Swift Boat Veterans’ for Truth smear campaign agaisnt John Kerry, and was in line for a cabinet position if Mitt Romney had won the White House in 2012.
Today, Ginsburg thinks the GOP has lost its mind for trying deny Americans the right to vote. From his weekend piece in the Washington Post, “My party is destroying itself on the altar of Trump”:
This attempted disenfranchisement of voters cannot be justified by the unproven Republican dogma about widespread fraud. Challenging voters at the polls or disputing the legitimacy of mail-in ballots isn’t about fraud. Rather than producing conservative policies that appeal to suburban women, young voters or racial minorities, Republicans are trying to exclude their votes.
🐓 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Jeff Tweedy, “A Robin or a Wren”
Ha, continuing my mini-musical trend of mellow sounds for chaotic campaign days, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy has a new solo record out, and it’s pretty great. His voice just seem to get cozier over time, and as usual he’s in no rush to get anywhere. But nobody meanders quite like Tweedy. “A Robin or a Wren” is a nifty upbeat ditty.
At the last, last call
When it's time for us all
To say goodbye
I know I'm gonna cry
Know I'm gonna cry
Because all in all I'm just having a ball
And I don't want to die
I don't wanna die