Even Trump’s supporters thought his ‘victory’ speech was like throwing gasoline on the embers still smoldering from the last riots
Donald Trump delivered his ‘victory’ speech before any of the major networks had declared him victorious, and even while the conservative Republican-leaning Fox network was showing him losing by a small margin.
Small wonder his incendiary words like ‘fraud’, and promising to fight the result in the Supreme Court, were seen by both conservative and liberal mainstream media as like pouring gasoline on the smoldering embers that remain around the nation from previous riots.
The Trump campaign has already filed lawsuits contesting election practices in a few key swing states, and it looks like the results of the election won’t be known with reasonable certainty for a few more days. That raises the risk of renewed riots by Democrat voters already frustrated after the very narrow 2016 election gave Trump four years as president.
Trump made it clear this year’s results will be contested. Hanging chads will be swinging in the wind. Pregnant chads will deliver late results.
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Fox bites back
I flipped between the main US news channels as they tried to make sense of the night’s proceedings. First came the shock, particularly among the Democratic-leaning outlets like CNN, that the polls had turned out to be wrong and their man was not heading for a blue landslide.
But it was the president’s speech that caused most concern in the red corner.
Almost the entire Fox election-night team expressed immediate surprise at Trump’s speech and had only criticism for his statements, particularly for saying the Democrats are trying to steal the election through election fraud as well as saying right out of the gate that he was going to fight the results because he had “obviously won.” Most of the Fox team agreed that Trump definitely had not won and that Biden still had the lead at that point, although his lead was shrinking, and a Trump victory looked most likely if numbers kept moving as they were.
Fox thought the president was inciting more violence by making it clear he’s already launching his fight over the votes before the counting is done. They were particularly bothered by his statement that he would make sure the voting stops, when it had presumably already stopped. That left everyone wondering if Trump thinks counting is the same thing as voting. They wondered if he was saying he was going to stop the counting – though Trump indicated he was talking about new ballots suddenly showing up in the morning that no one knew were there. Yet no one has made a claim of finding ballots so far.
Trump made it clear the fight is on and that he considers himself victorious regardless of how the remaining counts turn out.
Anger and incredulity at CNN
One CNN commentator asked, “Will Republicans just sit in silence and let the president say, ‘I don’t want to continue to count the vote because I think I have already won?’”
Former Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum added, “I was very distressed at what I heard the president say…. The idea of … using the word ‘fraud…!’ You stop counting because people are getting tired, and you don’t want mistakes…. They’re not stopping counting because they’re up to some kind of fraud. I hope they [the White House] walks it back tomorrow.”
Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor whose brother is the Democratic governor of New York, asked, “Is anyone in the White House going to tell the president, ‘It’s undemocratic what you’re saying? It’s distressing.’”
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Another anchor, Wolf Blitzer, said, “It is outrageous what the president of the United States said now: ‘This is fraud against the American public.’”
Dana Bash, the network’s chief political correspondent, noted, “There are a lot of people out there who believe everything the president says, and that is why this is dangerous.”
So the battle lines have been drawn, the chaos is coming, and the president’s pouring on the gas. Time to don the hard hats, folks.
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