After the Associated Press reported Saturday that Joe Biden is the President-Elect, President Trump’s lawyers and spokesmen began putting out the news that they would be contesting the results in court. I told a friend earlier this week that we’ll know by the end of the week whether any of these lawsuits have any traction. It’s Friday, and I don’t think they do.
If you are primarily following this election via cable news, I recommend that you turn to print journalism. Cable and broadcast news tend to be highly derivative of print journalism. For example, if you want to know what the Today Show or Good Morning America are going to cover on a given day, all you have to do is look at the front page of The New York Times and maybe The Washington Post. The broadcast news very rarely departs from the items covered in the old “gray lady.”
Also, cable news is a wasteland of commentary and instant “analysis” which oftentimes ends up being a narrative in search of evidence. I hardly ever watch cable news, except during special events like a presidential election or a debate. Beware if cable news is your main source of news. The stations tend to be a giant project in confirmation bias, both on the part of the reporters and the viewers. I’m not saying you can never get accurate information there. I am saying that it is comingled with narrative that may or may not be very illuminating.
My recommendation: Get your news from print journalism, and get it from multiple sources.
But this week—no matter where you are getting your news from—you’ll notice that no outlet is reporting on court cases that could actually change the outcome of the election. None.
Two days ago, Karl Rove penned an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal under this title: “This Election Result Won’t Be Overturned: Recounts occasionally change margins in the hundreds, never in the tens of thousands.” Among other things, Rove offers this analysis:
Mr. Trump is now pursuing legal challenges in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona and Nevada, and there will be an automatic recount in Georgia, given Mr. Biden’s 0.29-point lead there. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is correct that Mr. Trump is “100% within his rights” to go to court over concerns about fraud and transparency. But the president’s efforts are unlikely to move a single state from Mr. Biden’s column, and certainly they’re not enough to change the final outcome…
To win, Mr. Trump must prove systemic fraud, with illegal votes in the tens of thousands. There is no evidence of that so far. Unless some emerges quickly, the president’s chances in court will decline precipitously when states start certifying results…
This is the challenge that the President faces. None of the current allegations of election fraud–even if proved true–would affect enough votes to overturn the result. If the result is to be reversed, then the President will have to present evidence that would reverse a large number of vote totals in a number of states. That kind of hard evidence presented in a courtroom has not been forthcoming in any reporting that I have seen in any news outlet. Albert Mohler put it this way:
So the bottom line is that the situation could change, but at this point it has never changed in the course of American electoral history. There could be something we don’t know that we will learn in coming days, but at this point it’s going to have to be something we don’t know that would make a material change in the outcome of the election.
Mohler said that on Monday, and nothing has changed since then.
That doesn’t mean that no malfeasance occurred in this election. It just means that there is not enough of it to change the bottom line. Biden’s margins are just too big. Having said that, I still believe that every instance of illegality in this election must be investigated and prosecuted no matter what the effect is on the final result of the election. If they aren’t, then many voters are likely going to conclude that the system is corrupt.
If you are reading this with some skepticism, I get it. It was a tough, close election. There do seem to be some suspicious things that have happened during the election. I for one am very distressed about the practice of ballot harvesting, which has happened in the past and which Speaker Pelosi wishes to expand. The mass of mail-in votes is ripe for this kind of abuse, and I’m hoping for some reform to prevent it from happening in the future. I think public confidence in our elections would be greatly increased if mail-in balloting were the exception and in-person voting were the norm. But again, frustration about this does not constitute grounds for a reversal of the result of this election.
Another caution about cable news. Talking heads waiving affidavits around on cable news shows won’t reverse an election either. Unless or until those affidavits become a part of a court challenge that implicates enough votes to overcome Biden’s margins, it’s all just bluster.
I can imagine someone reading this and concluding, “Hey, Denny. This would be your analysis. You’re probably just a Biden-supporter.” Nothing could be further from the truth. When LSU was getting hammered by Auburn on Halloween night, the game was all but over in third quarter. My recognizing that should not be confused with becoming an Auburn fan. I was simply reading the scoreboard and looking at the play on the field. Yes, there was time on the clock, but barring a miraculous return of last year’s championship team, the outcome was clear.
The same thing is true of this election. Yes, there is still time for legal challenges, and the President should have his day in court. But barring the miraculous reversal of tens of thousands of votes (the evidence for which has not been and still isn’t forthcoming), the outcome is clear. And simply saying so doesn’t make one a Biden supporter or a closet liberal. It just means that you can read the scoreboard.