Trump's plan to steal the election has 'key role' for Fox News: media critic

Trump's plan to steal the election has 'key role' for Fox News: media critic
President Donald J. Trump participates in a town hall interview taping with Sean Hannity of Fox News Thursday, June 25, 2020, at Green Bay-Austin Struble International Airport in Green Bay, Wis. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

Veteran Democratic strategist James Carville has warned that unless former Vice President Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump by 6% or more, Trump and his Republican allies will manipulate the courts in order to "steal the election" in key swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania. Carville is hardly the only one who fears that the Trump campaign will play dirty on and after Election Night. And according to Media Matters' Matt Gertz, Trump has an accomplice in his plan to "steal the election": Fox News.

In article published the day before the election, Gertz explains, "With Election Day looming, the expert consensus is that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is in a strong position, with President Donald Trump needing to catch a number of breaks to win. But Fox News' propagandists are making it sound like the president is the odds-on favorite, priming their audience to attribute any defeat to Democratic fraud. Fox's effort is a necessary, if not sufficient, step toward enacting Trump's openly touted plan to try to steal the election — if it is close enough to do so — by preventing the counting of ballots legally cast for Biden. And even if the network fails to keep Trump in the White House, its reckless disinformation could raise tensions to feverish heights, potentially leading to political violence."

Gertz notes that Fox News' recent election coverage has "revolved around presenting anecdotal evidence that favors a Trump win as superior to polling data pointing to a likely Biden victory."

"The message from Fox is quite clear: Trump is going to win, and if he doesn't, the reason is because of voter fraud by Democrats," Gertz writes. "Under normal circumstances, a major cable news network drastically misinforming its audience about the prospects of their chosen candidate's chances might spark something between mirth and sadness. But these are not normal circumstances. The Trump campaign has, for months, been openly telegraphing that its narrow path to victory relies on a massive campaign of voter intimidation, suppression and disenfranchisement."

Trump has his allies, including U.S. Attorney General William Barr, have been baselessly claiming that mail-in voting promotes voter fraud. And Gertz argues that Fox News is encouraging voter intimidation by encouraging the delusions of Trump's more unhinged supporters.

"Republicans are using this voter fraud conspiracy theory as cover to suppress the Democratic vote," Gertz warns. "They have tried to block efforts to make it easier to vote safely during the pandemic. Under the leadership of one of Trump's major donors, the U.S. Postal Service has slowed down mail delivery, likely keeping some ballots from arriving by state deadlines. Republican poll watchers and election lawyers are preparing to target individual votes in Democratic strongholds, challenging voters at the polls and disputing the legitimacy of mailed ballots. GOP operatives are poised to tape and release decontextualized videos of poll operations in hopes of generating chaos."

A variety of Trump critics, from 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to former GOP strategist and Never Trump conservative Rick Wilson, have vehemently urged Biden to not accept defeat in any states until all of the votes have been counted. And Gertz fears that Fox News will try to help Trump declare victory when many votes remain uncounted in swing states.

"Trump himself reportedly plans to prematurely declare victory on Tuesday night if he appears to be leading and launch a legal blitz against counting the legally-cast ballots that might reverse the outcome — even though Republicans have ensured that counts of mail-in ballots in some key states can't begin until Wednesday," Gertz warns. "Meanwhile, the president, other party leaders, and Fox's hosts are cheering on the increasingly violent actions of his supporters, driving tensions to dangerous heights."

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