Should the Media “Call” the Election?

Robert Brooks Contributor
Should the Media “Call” the Election?
Read Time: approx. 3:31

This is the top story from our daily newsletter published on November 11, 2020. To have this and more delivered directly to your inbox scroll down and enter your email or click here to sign up.


Top StoryDominick Mastrangelo of the Hill’s news team reports: “Attorney General William Barr has authorized the Department of Justice to investigate any ‘substantial allegations’ of voter fraud in the 2020 election. Barr wrote that investigations ‘may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.’ Joe Biden was projected by every major news outlet as the winner of the presidential election on Saturday, but President Trump has indicated he will not concede, alleging without evidence that there was widespread voter fraud.” Should the media have called this election and will Trump’s lawsuits make a difference? Here’s what both sides are saying:

On the RightAndy Puzder writes for Real Clear Politics’ commentary section that “The Media Should Not Have ‘Called’ This Election.” Puzder says: “Under the contentious circumstances of this election, the traditional media’s decision to declare a victor before the official process had run its course has diminished the confidence of Trump voters in the announced result. Even if the declaration of a Biden victory is found to be accurate, the call was premature, and it will make the effort to unify our nation far more difficult.” Puzder writes that Trump “is clearly within his rights to contest the results. Allowing the legal process to run its course is the only way to foster the unity Biden seeks. Unity is much less likely, however, when the media simply declares a winner before the matter is resolved.” If a vote audit is not pursued many may view Biden as an “illegitimate president.” This is something William McGurn writes about in the WSJ Opinion section. McGurn asks: “Where might Trump voters have got the idea that a president was illegitimate?” McGurn says: “Maybe from those who spent the past four years undermining the legitimacy of the Trump presidency.” In September 2019 Hillary Clinton said:  “[Trump] knows he’s an illegitimate president.” In June 2019, Jimmy Carter said, “There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the election. And I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. He lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf.” Asked if that meant he regarded Mr. Trump as an “illegitimate president,” Mr. Carter said yes. In January 2017, Rep. Jerrold Nadler said he was boycotting Mr. Trump’s inauguration (along with one-third of his fellow House Democrats) because, though the president was “legally elected,” he wasn’t “legitimate.” In conclusion, McGurn writes: “Mr. Biden’s words on [unity] were exactly what the country needed to hear. But if the 71 million Americans who voted for Mr. Trump are to be reconciled, they will need to be persuaded. And for this to happen, Mr. Biden will at some point need to acknowledge the seeds he and his supporters sowed to help bring us to this bitter harvest.”

On the LeftHarry Litman of the Los Angeles Times Opinion section says, “Trump’s lawsuits won’t make a difference.” Litman asks: “Will the Trump lawsuits matter? The answer is no. The suits will be dismissed quickly or over the coming weeks, as states go through the process of certifying vote counts. The tally so far tells the tale: As of Sunday, Trump and his henchmen were 0 for 10 in their pursuit of court-facilitated battleground victories.” Litman says: “The president and his allies deeply misapprehend the role of the courts. Courts exist to remedy harms, not to entertain frustrations or commiserate with every unfairness. Even if complaints of ‘fraud’ or lesser rule-breaking are well-taken, no harm can be remedied because the overall result of the election won’t change.” Litman continues, saying: “Despite Trump’s apparent hope that the conservative majority he placed on the Supreme Court will pull his prospects from the fire, his scattershot, ragtag claims are not analogous to what was at issue in Bush vs. Gore.” Litman says that in Florida in 2000, “the courts, up to the Supreme Court, intervened in the context of an ongoing recount involving a razor-thin margin (in the hundreds) in the one state where the outcome would determine the overall victor.” Comparing that to present day, Litman says: “… the 10 [lawsuits that Trump] has already lost [in various states]… all raise objections about dozens or, at most, hundreds of votes, not enough to affect the overall outcome of the election.” In conclusion, Litman writes: “Joe Biden won. Trump’s flurry of lawsuits serves only to keep the wound open for his supporters, encouraging the false and unhealthy view that the 2020 election was somehow illegitimate. Unsurprisingly and unfortunately, the president’s legal maneuvering only proves he’s a sore loser, and one who will continue to sow discord once he is out of office.”

Flag ThisUsing Allsides’ Media Bias chart, we’re Flagging two takeaways today from news teams that are considered “Center”. First: Kristina Peterson and Lindsay Wise of the Wall Street Journal’s news team reported yesterday that, “Congressional GOP leaders united behind President Trump’s continued challenges to the presidential election’s outcome Monday, declining to acknowledge Democrat Joe Biden as the president-elect… Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) became the latest GOP leader Monday to throw his support behind Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede after Mr. Biden secured enough electoral votes to win the White House. Mr. McConnell joined House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) and other senior Republicans in backing Mr. Trump’s challenges to the election’s outcome.” Second: If the tables were turned, and it was Joe Biden being pressured to concede, Democrats would likely be standing behind their man as well. Joe Concha of The Hill’s news team reported in August that Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “Joe Biden should not concede under any circumstances because I think this is going to drag out, and eventually, I do believe he will win if we don’t give an inch and if we are as focused and relentless as the other side is.” Similar to what the Trump campaign is organizing now, Clinton added: “we’ve got to have a massive legal operation, and I know the Biden campaign is working on that.”