Trump’s exaggerations don’t justify censorship

Both Trump and the media have misrepresented election irregularities

Artillery Row

Donald Trump should not have claimed re-election on polling night or exaggerated election fraud. But his opponents shouldn’t be describing election irregularities as “baseless,” “unfounded,” “rumour and innuendo,” or a “lack of evidence for massive fraud.”

Interference with Republican poll watchers was widespread. It was documented best where Republicans represented a strong minority (Austin, Dallas, Gillespie County, and Travis County in Texas; parts of Nevada). Such incidents were more frequent but less fairly reported in overwhelmingly Democrat cities and counties, of which the two most celebrated cases are Detroit, Michigan, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

One of the poll watchers denied access in Philadelphia was being filmed at the time. Fox News broadcast the video within hours. Philadelphian officials permitted him later in the day and apologized for a local misunderstanding. Some journalists framed this as a denial that he had been barred at all.

After the polls closed, Republican observers were frustrated in the counting rooms too. On the day after the election, Rudy Giuliani – Trump’s lawyer and former Mayor of New York, with registered poll watchers as witnesses, called a press conference to explain his lawsuit in Philadelphia. The only live television coverage came from C-SPAN (the public access political channel).

The next day (Thursday), a court order granted Republicans access to Philadelphia’s counting room. (In the month before the vote in 2020, local courts twice refused the Trump campaign’s civil suit for access.) On that same Thursday, Trump said Philadelphia had restricted all Republican poll watchers, meaning that they had been kept out or too far away to see any ballots. CNN and MSNBC cut live broadcasts of Trump’s remarks. Meanwhile, the City of Philadelphia stated it had denied access to extra poll watchers only. Print journalists then misreported Trump’s claim as a lie.

The Trump team’s answer is to collect more evidence, but the media are boycotting it

Meanwhile, on Wednesday a Republican watcher in Detroit tweeted a video of ballot counters cheering every time a Republican watcher was escorted out. (Republicans are a small minority in local government, election appointments, and vote watchers there.) On the Thursday, other Republicans surged to the counting room, but most were expelled because of crowding. This excuse was undermined when officials covered the windows. Trump tweeted that Republican poll watchers were barred. This was true: most of those expelled were Republicans. The media called him a liar because a few Republicans remained inside.

Courts in Detroit refused the Trump campaign’s request to delay certification of the results, essentially saying that witnesses are insufficient evidence. The same standard was applied by courts in Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada. The Trump team’s answer is to collect more evidence, but the media are boycotting it.

Independent of the polling and counting irregularities are the postal irregularities. On election day, a postal worker in Buffalo, New York State, was caught with more than 800 undelivered ballots. A woman in Katy, Texas, received ballots addressed by a man in Midland City, Alabama, to his local election office. (The Postal Service said its automated address reader was confused by a telephone number.)

In following days, election officials in Greensboro, North Carolina, found hundreds of missing ballots in postal offices. A federal judge ordered the Postal Service to make a second sweep of its processing facility in Houston, Texas, which had reported no outstanding ballots. Notably, these sweeps were ordered in Republican counties.

Evidence of mishandling of mail-in ballots was slower to emerge from Democratic counties. On the day after the election, a postal worker in Erie, Pennsylvania, blew the whistle on his supervisor backdating late ballots. The next day, a separate postal worker blew the whistle on a separate postal facility in Pennsylvania. A postal worker in Travis City, Michigan, alleged backdating there too. The first postal worker (Richard Hopkins) then went public. He was interviewed by Postal Service investigators who pressured him to put a lid on it, not knowing that he was wearing a recording device. A week after the election, the Washington Post, citing Democrats in the US House of Representatives, misreported that he had recanted. He filmed himself refuting the Washington Post.

Facebook and Twitter were censoring any messages questioning the legitimacy of the election

On the Saturday, Biden gave a victory speech, after most media declared him the winner. That same day, Giuliani called another press conference, which the national media refused to cover. He brought four official inspectors who had been stopped from inspecting ballots in Philadelphia. Another 70 witnesses from Philadelphia could not attend the press conference but were documented in the lawsuit. He argued that since ballots had been counted without oversight and without record, they should be ruled illegitimate. The next day, he was invited on a conservative radio program, when he estimated total illegitimate ballots, across three states, at 450,000. On Monday, he filed the lawsuit, then a local television station in New York invited him for a live interview. The interviewers were sceptical and disrespectful, but he nonetheless thanked them for the coverage.

On that same Monday, the US Attorney General authorized the Department of Justice to investigate voting irregularities. The White House press secretary (Kayleigh McEnany) gave her personal opinion that Democrats welcomed the irregularities. Fox News ended its live coverage. However, Fox News invited her the next day to show 234 pages of sworn affidavits from observers who claim that Wayne County, Michigan, counted ballots without signatures, with no voter record, or from deceased voters.

This evidence cannot be found on social media, except YouTube (which has retreated from its aggressive censorship earlier this year). Twitter admitted, a week after the election, that it had started adding warning labels to #StopTheSteal tweets on the morning of the vote (Tuesday). On Wednesday, “Women for America First” started a Facebook group called “Stop the Steal,” which attracted 360,000 followers in a day. However, by Thursday, MailChimp had suspended its email account, and Facebook moved to shut down its page, on the grounds that some members had called for violence. (By the same rule, the Black Lives Matter pages should have been shut down years ago.) By Monday, Facebook and Twitter were censoring any messages questioning the legitimacy of the election, on the grounds of accuracy and threat.

This is a bad trend. For years, social media have been censoring the President of the United States, and his supporters, for alleged misinformation that the social media companies never adequately specify. Meanwhile, they hypocritically allow his opponents to say whatever they want. In August this year, Facebook banned the “Committee to Defend the President” from buying ads.

Calling a claim baseless while ignoring the evidence is hypocrisy

At the same time, the media censored emerging news that Hunter Biden had used his father’s name to do business in Eastern Europe, for which he has no qualifications. In October, a recycled laptop emerged, containing photos of him exposing himself and smoking crack (or something like it). Emails prove that he conferred with his father on business in Ukraine and Romania. Facebook and Twitter censored the news and blocked the New York Post from its accounts. They decreed the story was not factual but ignored the material evidence. To add further hypocrisy, they allowed Democrats to spread the lie that Russia had placed the story.

This lie provoked a business associate (Tony Bobulinski) to come forward with texts, in which Hunter, his brother, and their lawyer discussed the collusion. The lawyer admitted that they were referring to Joe Biden using the codename “the chairman.” Yet only Fox News interviewed Bobulinski.

The censorship has reached even British conservative newspapers. For instance, The Sun misreported “no specific allegations or evidence” – on the same page that it admitted Giuliani’s lawsuits.

Calling a claim baseless while ignoring the evidence is hypocrisy. Trump’s exaggerations do not justify his opponent’s censorship. Election fraud has increased with mail-in voting, partisan appointments, and the unaccountable administrative state. They need to be taken seriously before Western democracies end up looking no better than the pseudo-democracies they criticise.

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