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Several Twitter users blasted “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on Sunday after an explosive, confrontational interview with Sen. Ron Johnson during which the host criticized the Wisconsin Republican for joining an effort to contest the results of the November 3 election.
As he introduced the segment, Todd noted that Johnson had decided to join a group of 11 Republican senators who planned to object to slates of electors for Democrat Joe Biden from a number of states they claim unconstitutionally altered their voting rules and procedures ahead of last month’s election.
He also repeated the oft-heard claim by other news networks as well as congressional Democrats that courts have ruled there is no evidence of widespread vote fraud, though President Donald Trump’s campaign says in the vast majority of cases his legal team has brought, judges haven’t even looked at the allegations.
After Todd noted that Johnson said last month he would accept all states’ electors, he asked the GOP senator chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee why he changed his mind.
The Wisconsin senator explained that at present, “tens of millions of Americans” view the presidential election as illegitimate, which he says has created an “unsustainable condition” in the country.
He also noted that many Democrats and others in the media refused to acknowledge President Trump’s “legitimacy” after four years in office.
“And here we are again,” Johnson said, adding that he and the other GOP senators are trying to create conditions of “transparency” so Americans can regain faith in the electoral process.
Johnson and the other senators, led by Ted Cruz of Texas, want to see the establishment of a commission resembling one set up after the contested presidential election of 1876. That panel, which was comprised of five House members, five senators, and five Supreme Court justices, ultimately decided that Rutherford B. Heyes, the GOP candidate, should become president because of perceptions of vote fraud in three states.
I guess Todd is trying to keep his job.
— T (@jnaneswari1) January 3, 2021
You know what would have been possible today? Not having him on as a guest. Do better.
— JamieBendall (@jamiethehost) January 3, 2021
Shame on you for putting him on TV.
— Ellie S (@SaldivarEllie) January 3, 2021
Why give him the voice at all? Chuck Todd needs to resign along with Johnson
— Mantown (@iloveMantown) January 3, 2021
Everything Chuck Todd ever said about his alarm at what the Republicans are doing is hollow and meaningless. After all this, to welcome Ron Johnson back is such a pathetic surrender. (Don't @ me with how not-new this is. Thanks.) https://t.co/n0mMqLWcbr
— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) January 1, 2021
Todd pushed back, however, and repeated claims that no evidence of vote fraud exists.
“You made an allegation of widespread fraud, you’ve failed to offer specific evidence of that widespread fraud, but you’re demanding an investigation on the grounds there’s allegations of widespread fraud. Essentially, you’re the arsonist here,” he said.
“President Trump is the arsonist here. You started this fire and now you’re saying whoa, look at this, oh my god, all these people believe what we told them because you didn’t have the guts to tell the truth that this election was fair,” Todd added.
Johnson laid much of the blame on the media, which he said was working on behalf of elements within Congress and the federal government to depose President Trump throughout his term.
“This fire was started back in, you know, January of 2017,” Johnson said, referencing statements made by Democratic activists including Washington, D.C.-based attorney Mark Zaid who talked of a “coup” and “rebellion.”
Johnson also countered that much of the media also ignored or tried to debunk allegations against Hunter Biden prior to the election — some of which were contained in a report his committee helped author that was released in September — that turned out to be true.
After a tense back-and-forth in which both men said they’d heard “enough” of each other’s arguments, Todd accused Johnson of spending “the last two years carrying a lot of crazy conspiratory water for President Trump” before asking the Wisconsin lawmaker if his fight against certifying the election results was “a cynical political ploy.”
“I’m trying to be transparent,” Johnson replied, citing allegations of vote fraud in Nevada that were relayed to his committee during a hearing earlier this month.
“Just because you have somebody say it didn’t make it true,” Todd countered, though the vast majority of witnesses have signed sworn affidavits under penalty of perjury.
“You got to ask yourself, when you tell people a million times that something was stolen or something was fraud and then they believe it, I think you need to look in the mirror,” Todd said.
“I didn’t criticize Democrats when they were talking about potential hacking of voting machines, but now it’s quackery and conspiracy theory. That’s the problem, Chuck,” Johnson answered.
“There is a double standard, and we’re not being transparent and dismissing the concerns of tens of millions of Americans. Again, I didn’t light this fire. This fire was lit over four years ago and … you have destroyed the credibility of the news media by your bias,” he added.
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