Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
With the presidential election still up in the air as ballots continue to be counted in key states, President Donald Trump and his propagandists at Fox News are seeking to reduce confidence in the election tallies in order to build a case to toss out Democratic ballots and steal the election.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has a sizable lead in the popular vote that is expected to increase as more votes are counted in states that have been called for his campaign. But Trump, while holding a small lead in several key states for the electoral vote, falsely declared victory overnight. Trump made baseless claims of voter fraud during a White House appearance, declared that his campaign will "be going to the U.S. Supreme Court," and added, "We want all voting to stop."
Trump's early advantage from Election Day votes in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania is being whittled away as election officials tabulate millions of mail-in ballots that overwhelmingly skew toward Democrats. Election experts have long anticipated this "red mirage" -- and Trump has publicly laid the groundwork for his legal response for at least as long. He has been pushing dire conspiracy theories about Democrats trying to steal the election with mail-in ballots since the spring, repeatedly threatening to use the courts to seek to throw out those legally cast ballots.
Fox is eagerly supporting Trump's attempted election theft, priming its audience to treat the ongoing counting of ballots as evidence of fraud. All morning long on Fox & Friends, the president's favorite morning cable news show, a series of network contributors have been casting doubt on the validity of those ballots, falsely claiming that it is impossible for them to prevent a Trump win, and even instructing Trump to have loyal Republican senators open investigations into voter fraud.
Fox contributor Jason Chaffetz:
Fox's Jason Chaffetz falsely suggests that Trump already won re-election: "The president is up nearly 700,000 votes… https://t.co/JP58HcxuHf— Bobby Lewis (@Bobby Lewis) 1604495402.0
Fox contributor Mike Huckabee:
Fox's Mike Huckabee undermines the election: "Philadelphia was the birthplace of liberty. And if a lot of these vot… https://t.co/8obFCBJqXd— Bobby Lewis (@Bobby Lewis) 1604495009.0
Fox contributor Newt Gingrich:
Fox's Newt Gingrich basically advises Trump on how to steal the election, telling him to get Sens. McConnell and Gr… https://t.co/yiA9aQh9GA— Bobby Lewis (@Bobby Lewis) 1604497606.0
Fox's effort is a necessary step for Trump to pull off his caper, if not a sufficient one. As the count continues, we are likely to see the president cite his favorite network's programming as he tries to delegitimize the election results. The Trump-Fox feedback loop could be making its last stand -- or helping the president to a second term.