by Patrick Maines
The lawsuit filed against Fox News by Dominion Voting Services, set to go to trial on April 17, may turn out to be a seminal case in First Amendment jurisprudence, with effects that reach well beyond Fox. In a nutshell, Dominion charges that Fox defamed them by putting on air people who claimed that Dominion’s voting machines yielded incorrect results, to the benefit of Joe Biden. More than this, the plaintiffs have secured, through depositions, evidence that Fox News hosts and news executives themselves disbelieved the claims their on-air guests were making.
For all that, the irony surrounding this case abounds. If Americans have learned anything during the past six years, it is that they can’t look with confidence on the news presented (and not presented) by the nation’s so-called elite media. From “Russiagate” to the origin of COVID; from Hunter Biden’s laptop to the efficacy of masks; and from Critical Race Theory “only being taught in law schools” to the “security” of our southern border, everyone now knows (including those who know but aren’t unhappy about it) that the media have devolved, on issues with a political dimension, into propagandists for Democrats and the woke.
But there’s another issue, indirectly related to the Fox case, that the media have bungled … by ignoring it almost completely: the many anomalies that attended the 2020 election results. None of these anomalies turn on questions related to the Dominion machines, but instead, like those here, here, and here, raise compelling questions about the bizarre nature of the vote patterns by time of day, historical results, and multiple other metrics.
Virtually none of the legacy media examined or even reported on these baffling anomalies, instead suggesting that all challenges to the vote were “misinformation,” and that all such that went to trial were thrown out by the courts. (That the courts rejected almost all of these cases on procedural grounds without even considering the merits is rarely if ever acknowledged in media accounts.)
And it’s in contrast to this journalistic dereliction of duty that the irony of the suit against Fox News becomes pronounced. Are we to believe, after all, that an overwhelming majority of legacy TV and newspaper reporters truly believed that the NY Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story was Russian disinformation? Or that COVID didn’t come from a Wuhan lab? And if they didn’t believe those things, how is what they did any different than what Fox News did? And this isn’t even to mention that the network’s sources for the Dominion claims, like Rudy Giuliani and Sydney Powell, were part of Trump’s election team, and therefore clearly newsworthy.
But it’s here that an acknowledgement needs to be made that will discomfit Trump supporters: Donald Trump throws words around so sloppily that he practically invites contradiction and fact checks. Early on in his presidency Trump alleged that his inaugural crowd was larger than Obama’s in 2009. Was that a lie or an exaggeration? The media, as one, said it was a lie. More recently, Trump went to a McDonald’s restaurant and told the staff he knew more about their products than they did. Was that a lie or an exaggeration?
So when Trump said (and says) that the election in 2020 was “stolen,” is that just another example of his careless use of language, or is it an exaggeration truly believed by him?
Absent any in-depth look by the media at the anomalies in 2020, we can’t be sure, but the guess here is that Biden won the election courtesy of Mark Zuckerberg’s hundreds of millions of dollars that stimulated extraordinary turnout in a handful of large, blue cities. This, plus the COVID-related suspension of election laws, which resulted in things like unmanned drop boxes and a flood of mail-in ballots that lacked the kind of features that were required in previous years. In other words, it’s unlikely that the 2020 election was either stolen or illegal, but was instead marked by extraordinary circumstances, yielding extraordinary anomalies, that the media never bothered to look into, much less explain.
So which is worse? Fox News, which put on air surrogates for Trump who made allegations about Dominion that weren’t true, and were disbelieved by Fox hosts and reporters, or the MSM, who resolutely declined to look into extraordinary and abnormal election practices as took place in 2020, and in the anomalies in the vote count thereafter?
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Patrick Maines is the president emeritus of The Media Institute, a Washington-based think tank that in his time aggressively promoted free speech and journalistic excellence. He engineered the creation of an independent national celebration called Free Speech Week, now in its 20th year.
Photo “Election Day” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.