Dec 13, 2021 • 6M

Slow-walking the coup PowerPoint

Blueprint for sabotage

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Eric Boehlert
Fearless media commentary
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Twelve months after the press shied away from calling Trump’s coup attempt a “coup,” the Beltway media continue to go slow on the latest revelation about how deeply enmeshed the White House was in its blatant push to sabotage democracy following the Republican’s lopsided loss to Joe Biden.

The discovery of a pro-coup PowerPoint circulating within the White House last winter, designed to nullify millions of American votes, ought to be covered nonstop today, and used as proof that Trump is not suitable to hold office in this country. Instead, the PowerPoint has received mostly passing, disinterested coverage.

Titled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN,” the 38-page presentation is a rocket ship ride into the Big Lie abyss. The proposed plan was for Trump to declare a national emergency and for all electronic voting to be rendered invalid, citing foreign “control” of electronic voting systems. The chilling PowerPoint came to light recently when Trump’s fourth and final chief of staff, Mark Meadows, turned the electronic presentation over to investigators at the January 6 Committee. Days later, Meadows stopped cooperating with the panel.

The PowerPoint included plans for Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6 to reject electors from “states where fraud occurred.” It also included a proposal in which the certification of Biden’s victory would be delayed, and U.S. marshals and National Guard troops would help “secure” and count paper ballots in supposedly disputed states.

A criminal conspiracy to overthrow last year’s election, the PowerPoint is a heavy-handed plot twist that most Hollywood scriptwriters would dismiss as not being believable. Yet here we are, as Trump plans his re-election run and we learn more about the runaway criminal enterprise he oversaw as president.

We’re learning about it slowly though, and what seems to be reluctantly by the Beltway press, which instead of touting the PowerPoint as a smoking gun that reveals the GOP’s proudly anti-democratic ways, are treating the proposal timidly — an oddity that doesn’t demand much attention. Virtually none of the coverage I’ve seen has included key context, such as quotes from experts on authoritarianism regarding the stunning implications of a White House likely consulting a sabotage plan like that.

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“PowerPoint Sent to Mark Meadows Is Examined by Jan. 6 Panel,” was the ho-hum headline the New York Times produced over the weekend. As of Sunday night, there had been no Times follow-up on the story, suggesting the paper does not see the PowerPoint as being overly important or worthy of ongoing coverage.

The coup blueprint still has not appeared on the front page of single major American newspaper, nor has any influential editorial page weighed in. Republican members of Congress have not been repeatedly pressed to explain the document and why, twelve months ago, the president’s chief of staff took a meeting with the author of the unhinged PowerPoint. Or why members of the author’s conspiracy team, just days before the deadly January 6 insurrection, spoke to a group of Republican senators and House members, briefing them on the bogus claims of foreign interference in the election.

As of Sunday afternoon, “PowerPoint” had been mentioned just 20 times on CNN in the previous week, 50 times on MSNBC, and to nobody’s surprise, 0 times on Fox News. There has not been a single network evening news mention, according to a search of Nexis.

The media’s shoulder shrug response has left Democrats perplexed and enraged. “Can someone explain to me why this isn’t the only thing in the news?” tweeted Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). “I deeply respect the fourth estate, but, holy shit they had a plan to just end democracy, and is the press gonna just be like “are democrats using the wrong words again?”

There’s a long and disturbing history of the press sleepwalking through this coup story. The press embraced a timid storyline immediately following Trump's defeat as he unleashed a vicious campaign against free and fair elections in America.

Instead of detailing his treasonous, post-election behavior surrounding the would-be coup as a power-hungry authoritarian out to steal an election, news consumers received updates about Trump’s “tactics,” his vague “moves” and “chicanery”; his legal “strategy” and “power play” while he was “sulking” and “brooding” inside the White House.

One Politico dispatch at the time dismissed Trump’s anti-democratic behavior as merely “bad sportsmanship.”

Back in October 2020, when he was asked whether he would agree to the peaceful transfer of power if he lost, Trump became the first president in American history to balk at the centerpiece of our democratic tradition. The Times placed the story inside the paper on page 15, gently noting that Trump had "declined an opportunity on Wednesday to endorse” the idea. "Trump Won't Commit to Peaceful Transfer of Power" should have been the headline on the front page of every major newspaper in America. It didn't appear on a single one. 

Now they’re sleepwalking past the coup.

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(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

📺 GOOD STUFF:

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Friday addressed Trump’s power grab, and the reluctance among too many elites to admit that it was a coup plot, and that we’re still dealing with it.

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🎧 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK

Kane Brown, “Good as You”

It’s a couple years old, but I just saw Brown perform this on national TV, and I’m hooked. A melodic two-stepper that you’ll be humming for weeks.

See the way you're takin' care of your mama
The way you're takin' care of me
The way you light up any room, girl
You're what this world should be