The Media’s Premature Coronation

The Media’s Premature Coronation

By Jeffrey Wernick and Amy Peikoff

Apart from a few holdouts, everyone in the media is acting as if the final outcome of this year’s Presidential election is conclusively settled. A survey of headlines at The New York Times yesterday offers “Transition updates,” a “disinformation tracker” dedicated to smearing anything and anyone calling a Biden win into question, not to mention an article whose title begins, “The Election is Over, but…” alongside a piece talking about which segment of the population helped to deliver Biden a win. Today the Times upped the ante, and featured an allusion to President Trump behaving as a dictator because he is pursuing recounts and legal challenges in a close election. One has to read past the first four paragraphs—and an ad—before encountering the admission that “The parallel is not exact.” Other outlets have featured articles about whom Biden will pick for key cabinet positions, which executive orders he will issue, etc. All the mainstream media outlets—even Fox News—have been unified in referring to Joe Biden as the “President-elect,” and treating him accordingly.

Isn’t this premature?

The President has announced that he plans to continue to press various legal challenges, expecting those to make their way through the courts within the next couple weeks. In addition, recounts have either already been announced or are expected soon in key states. So it’s clear the outcome is still disputed and, according to Wikipedia—well, pre-election Wikipedia—“no person is normally referred to as the president-elect until the dispute is resolved.” (The entry has subsequently been heavily edited, omitting the above-quoted clause. Yet another instance of life in 2020 imitating Orwell’s 1984.)

Is there a significant chance that any of the recounts or lawsuits will overturn the projected Biden win? As we’ve seen, the writers and editors of the mainstream media outlets don’t seem to think so. Neither do the influential editors at Wikipedia. And not surprisingly, nor do the content curators and fact-checkers at Twitter and Facebook. 

Facebook, on its own “2020 U.S. Election Voting Information Center” page, lists Biden as the projected winner, citing a list of mainstream media outlets as authority for its projection. What about the recounts and legal challenges? According to Facebook, there’s nothing to see here. Citing one “Bipartisan Policy Center,” the page includes the following bullet point: “Vote recounts and legal challenges are a regular feature of elections and must take place under established guidelines and procedures.” Also included is a section called “A Deeper Look at the Election,” populated with “Posts from civic organizations,” the lead item of which refers to “an orderly and peaceful transition of power” as “a hallmark of a functioning democracy.” In other words, in the world according to Facebook, the challenges are normal, insignificant, and won’t impact results—and to imply otherwise is tantamount to rejecting democracy itself! (Our country is a Constitutional Republic, not a Democracy, but we’ll leave that discussion for another day.)

Twitter doesn’t offer a comparable “resource,” but as of this writing, its “US elections” subset of its “Events” page still features actual misinformation—an article about Pennsylvania postal worker Richard Hopkins recanting his allegations of voter fraud—something which has subsequently been refuted. In the meantime, Twitter has continued its practice of labeling the President’s tweets as containing claims that are “disputed.”

If all the legal challenges and recounts were pointless—if there were no longer any significant chance of President Trump winning re-election—why would he and his team continue to fight? Why have ten attorneys general gone to the trouble of filing an amicus brief supporting the President’s challenge to the legality of late mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania? Moreover, why, as the days go on, are more and more people willing to bet real money on a Trump win?

Three days ago, while discussing Bruce Fein’s assessment of President Trump’s potential avenues for winning re-election, one Parleyer wrote, “No matter who is eventually declared the winner, I will not have any confidence that it is correct. However, uncertainty favors the candidate with the most prolific propaganda apparatus behind him.” 

Indeed. This is all the more reason that any honest person, group, or company would want to see both the appropriate recounts and any legal challenges—which entail the presentation and discovery of all relevant evidence—play out fully. These are crucial components of our system of checks and balances, and they foster trust in the accuracy and integrity of our elections. Instead, the tech-media cabal is deploying its ubiquitous and intricate content-curation apparatus, to turn their political hopes and biases into a self-fulfilling prophecy. 


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