Like the GOP, the party has cast doubt on elections in the past
Dominion Voting Systems, the maker of voting machines and tabulation software used in 28 states in the 2020 election cycle, has settled its defamation lawsuit against Fox News for close to $800 million. Fox, along with other conservative news outlets, had aired allegations that Dominion had participated in a broad conspiracy to steal the presidency from Donald Trump by switching Republican votes to the Democrat column.
Faced with evidence that Fox’s own key on-air commentators — including Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity — had scoffed at the idea that such a grand scheme to subvert the election had taken place, the network chose on the eve of the trial to avert a lengthy and embarrassing court process, and probably got off cheap. Reporters looking forward to a six-week stint of breathless reportage about Fox News and anticipated testimony from Rupert Murdoch expressed disappointment with the settlement — the New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg reported that “a sense of shock prevails”— but most informed observers knew that a deal would likely be struck, with only the record-breaking price tag remaining uncertain.
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The Dominion saga is far from over, as the company still has pending cases against other media companies as well as Trump’s lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who are being sued for defamation. But what remains of key interest is the readiness with which major media outlets embrace the diction of Democrat consultants when it comes to labelling unfounded allegations as “lies”.
This goes not just for the 2020 election, but for virtually anything that Trump or his surrogates say. Indeed, critics of the new role of “fact-checker” have pointed out that these supposed truth-seekers are laughably partisan in their checking, as when the Washington Post accused Trump of “lying” for having said that he received 75 million votes, when the number was actually 74 million, or referring to him as a liar for calling his voting base “the greatest political movement in the history of our country.”
But regarding the 2020 election, affirming the sanctity of the process has become creedal and a sign of loyalty to the democratic process. That election is alone in American history as unassailable.
Who remembers the 2004 presidential election, when John Kerry was “supposed” to cruise to an easy victory over George W. Bush? Bush’s victory in Ohio was, we were told, corrupted and stolen by Diebold Election Systems, a manufacturer of voting machines which had alleged ties to Republican political figures. To this day there are dead-enders on the Left who believe that Kerry had the election stolen from him.
Or consider 2016, when Hillary Clinton’s loss so baffled her devotees that they launched a four year “Resistance” to the Trump presidency that was festooned with conspiratorial musings so lavish that they included a front-page New York Magazine assertion that Donald Trump had been recruited as a KGB mole in the 1980s, with the long-term aim of installing him as a Kremlin puppet.
Fox News tried to play both sides in the wake of the 2020 election, and got its fingers burned by airing clumsy suppositions about election fraud that stupidly named names. It will no doubt have learnt its lesson, but do not expect this to be the last time we hear complaints about America’s hallowed election process — from either side.
Seth Barron is managing editor of The American Mind.