Thursday, September 24, 2020


This confirms what we already knew:
President Trump, during a news conference at the White House Wednesday evening, refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the November election.

Asked by a reporter whether he would “commit here today for a peaceful transfer of all power after the election,” noting the violence that has arisen in some cities, Mr. Trump demurred. “We’re going to have to see what happens,” he said. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

“We want to get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” he added. “The ballots are out of control. You know it. And you know who knows it better than anybody else? The Democrats know it better than anyone else.”
We don't know everything he's planning to do, but we know it's quite likely that he'll be leading in the popular vote on Election Night and we know he'll declare himself the winner, arguing that votes shouldn't be counted after a certain arbitrary time limit.

Earlier this month, I said that news organizations, particularly TV news outlets, just need to do what they routinely do when votes are being counted: analyze where the uncounted votes are and say that it's too early to make certain calls, just the way they do when key precincts or counties haven't reported their vote totals in an ordinary close race. A recent column by David Ignatius of The Washington Post suggested that the press is planning to take this approach:
Journalists at all the major networks use similar language to describe the challenge of reporting the Nov. 3 outcome. They recognize that because many votes will be cast by mail, the counting will be slow in some states and the final result may be delayed for days. Commendably, all the networks are preparing for a “decision night” that may not yield an immediate decision....

I spoke this week with senior political journalists at Fox News, ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC.
Some of the responses:
“There’s a lot of responsibility for us. We take it very seriously,” Bret Baier of Fox News, who will be co-anchoring that network’s coverage, stressed in an interview. “If the difference in the number of absentee ballots yet to be counted is too large, you can’t make the call.” ...

David Chalian, the political director at CNN, explained: “If someone out there is claiming victory, and we haven’t counted the vote yet and made a call, we have to be clear that the facts don’t back up that claim.... One thing that’s critical is that we be as transparent as possible about what is and isn’t in the vote count, and what we know about the still-outstanding vote.”
And this seems important:
The networks plan to use “exit polls,” which this year will include telephone sampling that captures absentee voters.
At election time, we regularly complain about the media ignoring issues and concentrating on horserace journalism. But this could be a rare time when that tendency works to the Democrats' advantage. Treating the vote count as the multi-day (possibly multi-week) process that it's likely to be extends the horserace. Why would the media want to agree with President Trump that the race is over on Election Night and there's no more horserace news?

So democracy might prevail because the media loves a clffhanger.

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