After Biden Win, Right-Wing Sites Still Push False Vote-Fraud Claims
The Associated Press and thousands of other news organizations reported on Saturday that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won the 2020 presidential election. Since then a number of right-wing websites have refused to accept Mr. Biden’s victory, backing baseless accusations by President Trump and his allies of a stolen election, despite statements to the contrary from international observers and state officials across the country.
“Overall right now President Trump is leading in the Presidential race,” The Gateway Pundit said in an article on Monday. “This race is not close to being over and the media’s coordinated effort to steal this election and their collusion in calling the election for Joe Biden is a lie.” (Mr. Biden won the popular vote and crossed the threshold of 270 electoral votes.)
The Gateway Pundit article went on to describe “massive Democrat fraud in Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania,” including claims that Republicans were barred from counting rooms. (Election officials in Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania have described those claims as false, and The New York Times found no evidence to support them.)
John Nolte, a Breitbart News editor at large, opened his column on Monday by claiming, “Joe Biden is not ‘president-elect.’” He went on to accuse the news media of dismissing “the possibility of widespread voter fraud before anyone has had adequate time to make their case and produce evidence” and of calling the election for Mr. Biden “before the legal recounts and re-canvassings have taken place.” Mr. Nolte did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The right-wing pundit Dan Bongino, who has a wide readership on social media, used his platform to claim that the election was not over: “There’s nothing to concede,” he said in Tuesday’s episode of his podcast. “I can’t say this enough. This race has not been called yet.” (While the formal certification of votes could be delayed as Mr. Trump contests the results, White House advisers have warned the president that his chances of legal success were narrow, and foreign leaders have largely accepted Mr. Biden’s victory.) Mr. Bongino declined to comment further.
The Epoch Times, an international newspaper affiliated with the Falun Gong religious movement, expressed doubt in a headline and article on Sunday: “Election Outcome Unclear Amid Pending Recounts and Legal Challenges.”
The effect of such statements is to corrode trust in the truth, especially among people “who were already convinced that the election was going to be rigged,” said Whitney Phillips, who lectures on media literacy and misinformation at Syracuse University. Casting doubt on the integrity of the vote, she added, “has been a fundamental part of Trump’s election strategy,” which she called “a cynical, grotesque attempt to undermine and, frankly, set a torch to democracy.”
“What’s absolutely critical is for people to understand how long of a con this actually has been, that it is not the case that these narratives have only emerged in the wake of Biden’s victory,” Ms. Phillips said. “Donald Trump himself and all of his surrogates and the media that supports him have been seeding this narrative for months and months and months, talking about voting irregularities long before any votes were cast.”
Misinformation about the outcome has run rampant online in recent days. A vote tally typo in Michigan set off voter fraud allegations on social media, fanned in part by Mr. Trump. False claims that Mr. Biden had lost Pennsylvania circulated after top Republicans said that the political news site Real Clear Politics had “rescinded” its call on the state. (The site had not yet projected a winner in Pennsylvania.)
The Federalist published an article on Tuesday stating that there was “increasingly good evidence of large-scale voter fraud in key states” and linked to four social media posts to support the claim. One post cited an affidavit from an elections worker in Detroit who reported being told to adjust the recorded mailing date of absentee ballot packages. Another post mentioned a conspiracy theory claiming that a supercomputer and a software program were used to change tabulated vote totals, an idea that the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency described as “nonsense.” Twitter flagged both posts with a note that “this claim about election fraud is disputed.”
The Federalist also linked to posts that referenced a lawsuit filed on Sunday by a conservative legal group claiming “numerous issues of fraud and misconduct” in Michigan’s Wayne County, including those raised by the elections worker in Detroit. Elections officials in the state, where Mr. Biden led by nearly 150,000 votes, have said that they have not seen any evidence of election fraud.
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David Fink, the lead lawyer representing Detroit in the case, said in a statement that the filing was “yet another belated lawsuit raising baseless allegations to try and undermine confidence in a well-run election” and that it was “based upon various conspiracy theories, which have already been debunked.”
The right-wing sites’ claims have been bolstered by Republican leaders and Trump administration officials, including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who have declined to publicly recognize Mr. Biden’s victory at the polls.
Some right-leaning news outlets seemed to accept the Trump loss, but often inconsistently and halfheartedly.
An article on NewsBusters, a conservative site focused on the media industry, argued that the election would have gone the president’s way if the press had been tougher on Mr. Biden. “It is an indisputable fact that the media stole the election,” Brent Bozell, the site’s publisher, wrote in the article, published on Monday. “The American electorate was intentionally kept in the dark.”
The Blaze, a website started by the conservative media personality Glenn Beck, referred to Mr. Biden in various ways this week. In one article, it called him the “Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden” and said that “the media” had declared him “the president-elect”; in another, it said he was “projected to win the election.”
The right-wing cable network One America News, in a video posted on YouTube on Tuesday, falsely stated that Mr. Biden had lost the election and accused Democrats of “trying to take the White House by manipulation and the force of the media.” YouTube tagged the video with a note that the race had been called for Mr. Biden.
Some of the right-wing sites’ postelection coverage has hit on the same theme: a frustration with Fox News, which projected Mr. Biden as the winner at 11:40 a.m. on Saturday and whose anchors have referred to him as the president-elect. “What is happening to Fox News?” was how a writer for PJ Media put it in an article on Monday, after the Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto broke away from live coverage of a White House briefing on the supposed vote fraud.
In its video on Tuesday, One America News called Fox News a “radical left media outlet,” although the network’s prime-time hosts have consistently boosted Mr. Trump, even offering support for his false postelection claims.
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