Opinion

The clear loser of the 2020 election – The major media

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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

The headlines about Trump’s unsuccessful election claims and the emerging Hunter Biden investigation obscure what should be our primary focus, a shameful media that is increasing its corrosion of traditional democratic norms.

Our mainstream media, which now, to our chagrin, also include the censorious Twitter and Facebook, consistently proclaiming, disingenuously, their protection of our democracy.  “Democracy Dies In Darkness”, blares the masthead of the prestigious Washington Post.  This statement is manifestly true, but not in the way the hypocritical Post intended.

Intentional suppression of the strong anecdotal evidence of widespread election irregularities in urban swing state election centers, combined with admittedly intentional concealment of scandalous Hunter Biden allegations, should give concerned pause to all who treasure democracy.

To be sure, our judicial system is neither capable or nor intended to be the venue for remedying of election objections.  Even the well-known Bush v. Gore case centered around the true intended remedy for valid objection to any traditionally supervised election: the counting and re-counting of paper ballots by local election officials.  That remedy is meaningless in today’s Covid-enabled quagmire.

Sadly, with the excuse of the coronavirus, half of the votes in key areas were cast outside the traditionally supervised election boundaries, resulting in widespread election irregularities that were substantial and potentially outcome determinative.  We say “potentially” advisedly, because our democratic measurement of votes in the election was absolutely unreliable (See: Disputed Election Anthology.

Our judicial system, of course, has neither the tools nor the institutional foolhardiness to try to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.  So the vote was likely unfair, it was likely inaccurate, but not in a way, absent the intervention of state legislatures, that can be remedied.  It cannot be proven to a sufficient judicial certainty that the election was stolen by Democrats. But, if it was, Democrats should say, to quote the witticism of former Senator S.I. Hayakawa about the Panama Canal, “we stole it fair and square.”

So responsible media should have pointed out the clear deficiencies in election supervision, and potential fraud and irregularity from the combination of mail-in balloting, unattended dropboxes and unchecked vote harvesting.     At the same time, they should have pointed out through legal experts, right and left, that the extreme remedies sought were unlikely to be judicially cognizable.

But the major media, rather than facilitating an important public discussion, have dishonestly tried to squelch the free exchange of thought and speech.  Twitter and Facebook have banned any messaging claiming an unfair election.  The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC have all treated solidly proven but unavailing anecdotes of fraud as baseless “conspiracy theories.”

Because of this partisan, dishonest treatment by the media of shameful election supervision, more than 60 million Americans nurse a profound sense of grievance, eroding trust in democratic institutions.  Fair claims of irregularity, fairly considered by courts, but necessarily rejected, are mocked with a sneering, derisive media attitude more befitting a junior high school election than the national presidential contest.

While republican election objections are not “conspiracy theories”, such theories were trotted out, ironically, to suppress pre-election reporting of Hunter Biden corruption.  MSNBS’s Nicole Wallace, for instance, called such allegations Russian disinformation, echoing other commentators.  Left-leaning commentator Ray Flores persisted in the Russian disinformation theory as late as December 13 on Howard Kurtz’s Media Madness. The highly partisan Twitter had blocked pre-election tweeting of the explosive New York Post Biden story.

Yet, polling shows that over 9% of the Biden voters would have reconsidered their votes if they had known of these allegations. The uniform major media reporting of “conspiracy theories” to describe Trump’s election claims should also be put in context of the last four years.

For over three of these years, the national media pushed the inane, conspiratorial “Russia collusion” theory, even though rebutting facts could be found in ten minutes by a twelve year old.  Then the “Ukrainegate” impeachment charges ignored the serious issues of Biden corruption Trump wished to investigate, again in the face of jejunely partisan media pushback.

Over forty percent of the public feel that the election was likely stolen, which is profoundly troubling. But far more citizens than that do not trust the national media to report fairly on major issues. Media performance both on the Hunter Biden story and the election irregularity claims serves only to harden these attitudes.

Democracy, it appears, is indeed dying in darkness.

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John D. O'Connor

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