The Media Isn’t Equipped for the Republican War on the Florida Election
Trump and his cronies are getting too many free passes.
On Saturday, the vote tallies for the major elections in Florida—for both governor and senator—inched to tiny margins between the candidates. That triggered automatic, legally required recounts, and that news caused Donald Trump to declare that Democrats were trying to “steal” the elections. Outgoing governor and Senate candidate Rick Scott told Fox News on Sunday that his opponent, Bill Nelson, was a “sore loser” and “clearly trying to commit fraud to try to win this election.”
Scott gave no actual evidence that Nelson was committing fraud.
Meanwhile, Florida’s other senator, Marco Rubio, joined in the hysterics, tweeting prolifically about Broward County in particular, which is taking longer than other areas to complete its count. Specifically, Rubio has been claiming that the votes coming out of Broward were deemed fraudulent. It’s hard to see why Rubio thinks this means there shouldn’t be a recount—if he really believed there was an epidemic of fake votes, then reviewing them would probably be a good idea, right?
But we already know that this is directly out of Trump’s playbook. He announced it during his campaign, when he said that he would only accept the results of the presidential election if he won. Now, in Florida, total control of the state could slip through Republicans’ hands, and even Trump’s fawning acolyte Rick DeSantis is facing a potential defeat in the governor’s race. So how are Republicans handling it? By announcing, repeatedly and never with any evidence, that Democrats are committing massive, organized voter fraud. By demanding new security measures without any explanations for what those should be. By declaring that any results saying they didn’t win are all fake.
This would all be the conspiratorial ravings of politicians desperately trying to secure minority rule before having to deal with more than a million potential votes against their party after Florida felons regain the right to vote. But, intentionally or not, the news media is giving legitimacy to their efforts to discredit the Florida election. In some cases, it’s the fault of the standard reporting format of “presenting all sides” and letting the readers suss out what’s what. Unfortunately, by uncritically reporting on made-up bullshit, they’re giving the impression that, just maybe, the bullshit could be true.
Politico, for example, tweeted, “Scott: Nelson is ‘trying to commit fraud to win’ Florida’s Senate race.” USA Today ran the headline “President Trump calls for end to Florida recount, tweeted ballots ‘massively infected.'” From the New York Post: “Trump says honest recount in Florida ‘no longer possible.'” ABC News, despite clarifying in its article that there’s no evidence, also tweeted, “NEW: Pres. Trump calls Florida ballots ‘massively infected,’ demands end to recounts.”
In other cases, it’s just dumb, context-free re-quoting, like when Trump declared that no votes should be counted after Election Day, which among other things means discounting the overseas ballots of active-duty military:
The Republican Party’s survival is built on voter suppression. In the past 20 years, the two Republican presidents both won their first terms despite getting fewer votes than their Democratic opponents, and popular support for their biggest victories, like tax cuts for billionaires, is shockingly low. Gerrymandering and targeted voting restrictions are their best bets to hang on to power, and the payoff has been tremendous. There’s no reason the media needs to do any heavy lifting to help them.
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