While last week’s election has resulted in the announcement of a new president and vice-president, with leaders of many countries around the world recognizing those results (and with global markets rallying their apparent support), the current Trump administration has not recognized them. As with the debate over the scientific veracity of climate change, what we have with this election is two sides, each of which has decried the other as a source of disinformation.
President Trump and his proxies have repeatedly claimed to be victorious and accused the Democrats of “stealing” the election through massive “fraud,” with the “mainstream media” complicit, censorious, and biased in the Democrats’ favor. All of Trump’s supposed enemies—in the Democratic party, among Republican “never Trumpers,” in the media, and ensconced in various levels of government—are taken to make up a “deep state” that is untrustworthy, nefarious, and committed to stopping his administration from continuing what they have “started.”
On the other side, the election has been taken to be fair, having played itself out more or less according to expectations — with in-person balloting showing more support for Trump, and mail-in ballots, which in most states were counted later, showing significantly more support for Biden (albeit with pollster projections somewhat off, as in 2016). (One of the possible reasons suggested for that degree of polling error is QAnon; more on them below.) The fairness of the election, despite known challenges, has been confirmed by international observers. The margin of victory for Biden is clear and Trump’s protestations are taken to be largely or completely unfounded and intended to disinform the electorate and rile up his base of supporters. This interpretation has been more or less accepted by most major media organizations, with governments around the world supporting it through their congratulatory statements to the Biden-Harris team.
As with the issue of climate change (and to some degree with Covid-19), the questions surrounding these election results, especially for media attempting to cover those results, are therefore: which side should we trust, and why? Is there a factual basis for deciding between them, or should both sides be given “equal air time,” with voters and observers being left to “make up their own minds”?Continue Reading →