Trump's election madness: The press gives Republicans a pass
If you’ve been enjoying ad-free PRESS RUN since its launch in February, or have just recently become a reader, please consider subscribing for $6 a month. Thanks!
As Trump continues to thrash around, ordering his lawyers to file absurd lawsuits in an attempt to overturn free and fair election results nationwide, the press once again is giving Republicans a pass. Refusing to hold the GOP accountable for truly outrageous and destructive behavior from the head of its party, the Beltway media continue a distressing Trump era tradition of caving into Republican indifference, and worse, depicting undemocratic actions as merely a unique, harmless political strategy.
Instead of vivid portraits of a party abandoning any principles as GOP lawmakers obediently fall in line behind Trump's nasty behavior, we get coverage about how savvy Republicans are for holding their tongues about Trump and refusing to hold him accountable. It’s more media normalizing in the age of Trump.
Republicans, either by cheering on Trump’s election madness and fact-free claims of fraud, or by remaining silent, are enabling the most destructive attack on election integrity in American history. If leaders of the Republican Party had stood up to Trump from day one and refused to fuel his “stolen” paranoia, the current election crisis would not exist — it rages on because the GOP is tacitly supporting it. Instead of holding Republicans to account, the press makes excuses. One CNN report this week even suggested Republicans had “no choice” but to back Trump’s election sabotage.
Republicans do have a choice — they can support the rule of law and denounce the attempt to do lasting damage to our democracy. But CNN is viewing Trump’s election attack through a Machiavellian lens, where there is no right and wrong. CNN concludes that Republicans have “no choice” but to boost Trump’s campaign, because if they don’t they might lose votes. As if winning votes is the reason public officials are elected to serve in Washington, D.C.
Axios this week casually reported that Republicans might pressure Republican-controlled legislatures to simply ignore the popular votes in their states and appoint electors who will support Trump in an attempt to void millions of ballots cast. As Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson noted, “You’re describing a coup.” But instead of sounding loud alarms about the looming dangers to the democracy, Axios reported the story as if it were covering Capitol Hill budget negotiations — simply detailing the outlines of a possible GOP strategy.
Meanwhile, Politico dismissed Trump’s ongoing rampage as “performance art,” because behind the scenes Republicans are telling reporters Trump’s legal maneuver can’t win, and that Joe Biden will become the next president. According to Beltway chatter, having the President of the United States lie about election results every day should be viewed as a “performance.” Another Politico dispatch dismissed Trump’s erratic behavior as little more than “bad sportsmanship.” That Politico report suggested that Biden not giving reporters enough access during the transition period was more troubling than Trump’s denigration of the U.S. election system.
Blogger Marcy Wheeler lost her patience watching the timid coverage of Republican enabling. “Dear people engaged in so-called journalism: IT IS NOT STREET THEATER TO DELIBERATELY UNDERMINE OVERWHELMING ELECTION RESULTS,” she tweeted. “It is the thing of authoritarianism, and you should stop reporting it as if it's a big fucking game.”
By waving off Trump’s attack on the American electoral system as nothing more than “performance art,” the press becomes part of the problem. By actively refusing to hold the Republican Party responsible, and by portraying elected officials as political victims of Trump’s madness — mere pawns caught in an uncomfortable position — news outlets are failing to tell the truth about the frightening story unfolding in American today, that one of our two major political parties doesn’t want to accept the results of a fraud-free election. That’s the story. Not how the GOP “has no choice” but to play along with Trump’s destructive campaign to poison millions of minds with fabricated claims about a “stolen” election.
Does it not occur to journalists that Republicans are enabling Trump’s attempt to overthrow election results because Republicans are fine with Trump’s attempt to overthrow election results? It’s not normal journalism practice for reporters to assume the best private intentions of politicians when they’re doing the opposite in public.
After detailing a long line of Republican senators actively attacking election integrity on behalf of Trump, CNN concluded, “It's an illustration of how Trump's personal interests continue to shape the calculations of those seeking to lead the party after his presidency.”
Actually, it’s an illustration of how Republicans don’t support free and fair elections. The press ought to stop reading benign motivations into dark Republican impulses. It’s likely being done because journalists are nervous about detailing the GOP’s radical and autocratic ways, because then they can no longer present Republicans as mainstream players. (They also don’t want to be accused of “liberal media bias.”)
The truth is the press gave up long ago on holding Republican lawmakers accountable for Trump's erratic behavior. Faced with a party that has completely capitulated to Trump's unbalanced ways, reporters lost interest in the pursuit.
Reminder: During the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the Beltway press loudly demanded each sitting Democratic member of Congress clearly state his or her opinion regarding Clinton’s private, personal behavior, and do it for ten months straight. Today, Republicans are allowed to demur as Trump aggressively tries to steal an election and become the first American president in 230 years who refuses to accept the results.
One of the media’s hallmark failures during the Trump era is the reluctance to openly and aggressively tell the truth about today’s radical GOP. We’re seeing it again with Trump’s election madness.
⚖️ GOOD STUFF:
We’re often getting general reports about how Trump’s lawyers are constantly losing in court, in their desperate attempt to win an unwinnable election for the Republican. But those vague mentions really don’t capture what’s happening inside court rooms as the GOP cases spectacularly implode day after day.
Law & Crime has a detailed look at a recent, farcical hearing in Arizona’s Maricopa County:
Testimony by the Trump campaign’s expert witness took a turn to the absurd when Zack Alcyone, whose business bio boasts of his experience in “ballot access calculations,” conceded that he is the business partner of [Korty] Langhofer, the lawyer who argued the president’s case all day. The website of the Phoenix-based software company Signafide lists them as co-founders.
💈 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Morgan Wallen, “More Than My Hometown”
Wallen’s instant drinking classic, “This Bar,” was one of my favorite songs from last year — a clever piece of songwriting, married with a huge hook, and the Tennessee singer’s memorable, whiskey-worn voice. The rising Nashville star is set to release an ambitious double-album in January. “More Than My Hometown” is the single and it’s pretty great — in a twangy, open road kind of way.
Yeah, I love you more than the feeling when the bass hits a hook
When the guy gets the girl at the end of the book
But, baby, this might be the last time I get to lay you down
'Cause I can't love you more than my hometown