The long love affair between Fox News and Trump may be over. Here’s how it all soured last week. – The Washington Post

November 9, 2020 at 11:27 a.m. EST

“The last day of Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign began just after 7 a.m., as polls opened on the East Coast, with a call to “Fox & Friends,” the television morning show that had turned the reality star into a U.S. president. He got his usual hero’s welcome. But it was no longer enough.

“This has been a very special show for me,” he told the hosts of this broadcasting safe haven where he had workshopped his birther message, shared gossip and conspiracy theories, and repeatedly set the tone for his entire administration’s day. “We’ve had a great relationship, and you have a great show. So, it’s my honor.”

But his remarks quickly turned pointed that Tuesday morning as he boasted about how well he had done in the job of president, despite unexpected challenges — not from China or Russia or North Korea, he said, but from the United States. And he mused rhetorically about what had changed the most for him since 2016.”

Source: The long love affair between Fox News and Trump may be over. Here’s how it all soured last week. – The Washington Post

What The ‘Strongmen’ Of History Reveal About Modern Politics – Ruth Ben-Ghiat – On Point – NPR CT

Play

47:1312 hours ago

What The ‘Strongmen’ Of History Reveal About Modern Politics

Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat studies authoritarian regimes, like Italy under Mussolini. Can a democracy pry itself out of a strongman’s grip?

Source: On Point

David Lindsay: I just heard part of this radio interview of Historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat. She points out that Trump is not weak, but very good, at undermining our democracy. He was never trying to be a good democratic leader. All of his nonsense have been out of the playbooks of strong men, who took over their Democracies, and sometimes ended them. All his lies and chaos have left him with 70 million fanatic, almost cult followers. He will be a great danger to our democracy in the next 70 days, and if we do not take steps to contain him, he will run again in 4 years.

Trump’s Post-Election Tactics Put Him In Unsavory Company – By Andrew Higgins – The New York Times

“MOSCOW — When the strongman ruler of Belarus declared an implausible landslide victory in an election in August, and had himself sworn in for a sixth term as president, the United States and other Western nations denounced what they said was brazen defiance of the voters’ will.

President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko’s victory, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month, was “fraud.” Mr. Pompeo added: “We’ve opposed the fact that he’s now inaugurated himself. We know what the people of Belarus want. They want something different.”

Just a month on, Mr. Pompeo’s boss, President Trump, is now borrowing from Mr. Lukashenko’s playbook, joining a club of truculent leaders who, regardless of what voters decide, declare themselves the winners of elections.

That club counts as its members far more dictators, tyrants and potentates than leaders of what used to be known as the “free world” — countries that, led by Washington, have for decades lectured others on the need to hold elections and respect the result.”

Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims – The Washington Post

November 11, 2020 at 11:53 a.m. EST

“By now, it’s well-established that most of the arguments put forward by President Trump’s reelection campaign in its challenge of the results of the 2020 election are baseless and highly speculative. Even Trump allies, as The Washington Post reported late Tuesday, acknowledge the apparent futility of the effort. Others have reasoned that there’s no harm in going through the motions, with one anonymous GOP official asking, “What’s the downside for humoring him” for a little while?

But as scenes in courtrooms nationwide in recent days have shown, there is indeed a downside for those tasked with pursuing these claims. Repeatedly now, they have been rebuked by judges for how thin their arguments have been.

The most famous scene came in Pennsylvania, where a Trump lawyer strained to avoid acknowledging that their people were, in fact, allowed to observe the vote-counting process in Philadelphia:

At the city’s federal courthouse on Thursday evening, attorneys for Trump asked a judge to issue an emergency order to stop the count, alleging that all Republican observers had been barred.
Under sharp questioning from Judge Paul S. Diamond, however, they conceded that Trump in fact had “a nonzero number of people in the room,” leaving Diamond audibly exasperated.
“I’m sorry, then what’s your problem?” asked Diamond, who was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush. Denying Trump’s request, Diamond struck a deal for 60 observers from each party to be allowed inside.
At one point on Friday afternoon, 12 Republican observers and five Democrats were watching the count, according to a ballot counter who was working.

After that “nonzero” answer, Diamond pressed the Trump campaign lawyer to be more explicit — and he suggestively invoked their standing with the bar: “I’m asking you as a member of the bar of this court: Are people representing the plaintiffs in the room?” The lawyer responded more directly: “Yes.” By the end of the hearing, Diamond invoked his right to make sure lawyers in his courtroom acted in good faith.

Another Trump lawyer, Jonathan S. Goldstein, was also grilled by a Pennsylvania judge this week. Under questioning, he acknowledged that, contrary to Trump’s claims about rampant voter fraud, he wasn’t alleging fraud in the 592 ballots he sought to disqualify in Montgomery County, Pa.

Again, Trump’s lawyer strained to avoid directly answering the question but was ultimately forced to acknowledge it:

THE COURT: In your petition, which is right before me — and I read it several times — you don’t claim that any electors or the Board of the County were guilty of fraud, correct? That’s correct?
GOLDSTEIN: Your Honor, accusing people of fraud is a pretty big step. And it is rare that I call somebody a liar, and I am not calling the Board of the [Democratic National Committee] or anybody else involved in this a liar. Everybody is coming to this with good faith. The DNC is coming with good faith. We’re all just trying to get an election done. We think these were a mistake, but we think they are a fatal mistake, and these ballots ought not be counted.
THE COURT: I understand. I am asking you a specific question, and I am looking for a specific answer. Are you claiming that there is any fraud in connection with these 592 disputed ballots?
GOLDSTEIN: To my knowledge at present, no.
THE COURT: Are you claiming that there is any undue or improper influence upon the elector with respect to these 592 ballots?
GOLDSTEIN: To my knowledge at present, no.”

The Trump campaign also sought to temporarily stop counting some ballots in Detroit. It cited a GOP poll watcher who had said she had been told by an unidentified person that late mail ballots were being predated to before Election Day, so they would be considered valid.

The judge repeatedly asserted this was hearsay, but Trump campaign lawyer Thor Hearne sought to argue that it wasn’t — despite it having been someone who said they heard about something they weren’t personally involved in. He pointed to a vague note the poll watcher produced — which said “entered receive date as 11/2/20 on 11/4/20” — as evidence:

STEPHENS: So I want to make sure I understand you. The affiant is not the person who had knowledge of this. Is that correct?
HEARNE: The affiant had direct firsthand knowledge of the communication with the elections inspector and the document they provided them.
STEPHENS: Okay, which is generally known as hearsay, right?
HEARNE: I would not think that’s hearsay, Your Honor. That’s firsthand personal knowledge by the affiant of what she physically observed. And we included an exhibit which is a physical copy of the note that she was provided.

The two later returned to the point, after Stephens reviewed the note, and Stephens echoed Judge Diamond’s exasperation:

STEPHENS: I’m still trying to understand why this isn’t hearsay.
HEARNE: Well, it’s, it, I –
STEPHENS: I absolutely understand what the affiant says she heard someone say to her. But the truth of the matter … that you’re going for was that there was an illegal act occurring. Because other than that I don’t know what its relevancy is.
HEARNE: Right. I would say, Your Honor, in terms of the hearsay point, this is a firsthand factual statement made by Ms. Connarn, and she has made that statement based on her own firsthand physical evidence and knowledge —
STEPHENS: “I heard somebody else say something.” Tell me why that’s not hearsay. Come on, now.
HEARNE: Well it’s a firsthand statement of her physical –
STEPHENS: It’s an out-of-court statement offered where the truth of the matter is asserted, right?

In a later written decision, Stephens slammed the argument as “inadmissible hearsay within hearsay.” And after the campaign appealed, a Michigan appeals court rebuked it Monday for not including required documentation.

“I regret to inform you that your submission is defective,” the court wrote said, outlining the missing attachments.

Another of the Trump team’s claims crumbled rather quickly in Georgia.

In Chatham County, as in Michigan, the Trump campaign cited supposed evidence that 53 late ballots may have been predated so they could be counted. Except two witnesses they called acknowledged under oath that they didn’t know whether the ballots were received after the deadline. And two others for the local board of elections testified that they were, in fact, received on time.

Judge James Bass dismissed the case in a one-sentence, eight-word ruling, saying, “I’m denying the request and dismissing the petition” and abruptly adjourned the hearing. He then elaborated in a written opinion, saying that “the Court finds that there is no evidence that the ballots referenced in the petition were received after 7:00 p.m. on election day, thereby making those ballots invalid. Additionally, there is no evidence that the Chatham County Board of Elections or the Chatham County Board of Registrars has failed to comply with the law.”

The common thread running through all of these is that Trump’s lawyers are regularly offering a significantly more watered-down version of Trump’s claims about rampant voter fraud — because they, unlike Trump, have to substantiate their claims. And as these exchanges show, it’s a rather thankless task that can quickly land them on a judge’s bad side.”    -30-

Source: Trump lawyers suffer embarrassing rebukes from judges over voter fraud claims – The Washington Post

Opinion | Trump, in Attacking the Election, Is Attacking Democracy – By Jesse Wegman – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Wegman is a member of the editorial board.

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“It turns out there was a coordinated attack on the 2020 election after all. It began several years ago and accelerated in the last several months. Now that Election Day has passed, it has launched into overdrive.

Its weapons are baseless insinuation and evidence-free charges, deployed solely to sow chaos and undermine the results of a free and fair election — one that produced a clear winner and an even clearer loser.

But the most dangerous attackers of American democracy aren’t the Russians or the Chinese. They are the leaders of the Republican Party.

In the face of a commanding national triumph by President-elect Joe Biden — not just an Electoral College victory but a popular-vote margin that is approaching five million — President Trump and top Republicans are behaving like spoiled children refusing to let go of their toys.

Opinion | What Is Trump Playing At? – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“As newspapers and media across the country and around the world reported Joe Biden’s victory and Donald Trump’s defeat in last week’s election, Trump himself — along with his Republican allies in Congress, including the entire Senate majority leadership and the Republican House minority leadership — remained defiant.

I queried a number of American historians and constitutional scholars to see how they explain what should be an inexplicable response to an election conducted in a modern democracy — an election in which Republican victories up and down the ballot are accepted unquestioningly, while votes for president-elect Biden on the same ballots are not.

Many of those I questioned see this discrepancy as stemming from Trump’s individual personality and characterological deficiencies — what they call his narcissism and his sociopathy. Others offer a more starkly political interpretation: that the refusal to accept Biden’s victory stems from the frustration of a Republican Party struggling to remain competitive in the face of an increasingly multicultural electorate. In the end, it appears to be a mixture of both.

Many observers believe that the current situation presents a particularly dangerous mix, one that poses a potentially grave danger to American democracy.

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Jonathan Gienapp, a professor of history at Stanford and the author of “The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era,” noted by email that there have been close, contested elections in the past,

But none of these earlier examples featured what we see now: a completely manufactured controversy based on no evidence whatsoever, purely to maintain power, and to overturn a legitimate election.

In this context,

Trump’s refusal to concede and his congressional allies’ refusal to object to what he is doing is indeed most dangerous. If it continues to be given oxygen, it’s hard not to think that there could be lasting damage to the republic.

This, Gienapp concluded, “is what rot looks like.”

James T. Kloppenberg, a professor of American history at Harvard, responded to my inquiry with a broad overview, worth quoting at length:

Trump’s refusal to acknowledge defeat is unprecedented. Yet it is consistent with everything he’s done throughout his life, so it should not surprise us. While political scientists often focus on institutions and political practices, democracy, where it exists, rests on deeper cultural predispositions that are harder to see. Unless a culture has internalized the norms of deliberation, pluralism, and above all reciprocity, there is no reason to concede to your worst enemy when he wins an election, nor is there any reason to acknowledge the legitimacy of opponents.

It is just these underpinnings of democracy that Trump threatens, especially now:

Norm-busting has been Trump’s modus operandi from a very early age, so to expect him now to conform to democratic norms is unrealistic. Conceding defeat is a tradition consistent with the ethic of reciprocity: you admit defeat, move on, work with those you disagree with, and try to win the next election. Establishing those norms is the work of centuries, not decades. The colonies that became the United States had been at it since the 1630s. By 1787 those cultural pillars were already in place.

Trump’s behavior, Kloppenberg argues, is the culmination of long-term developments within Republican ranks:

Many conservatives considered the New Deal a repudiation of the laissez-faire dogmas they claimed were written into American life. They were wrong about that, as a generation of progressives had shown for decades before FDR’s election. But from Goldwater and Reagan through Gingrich to the present, many Republicans have viewed deviations from what they consider the gospel of free-market capitalism as heresy. Of course there has never been anything remotely resembling a free market in the United States. State, local, and federal governments were involved in daily life from the nation’s first days. But the fantasy of unrestrained capitalism has endured, as has the strategy of condemning as ‘un-American’ anyone who dares suggest otherwise. Given Trump’s four years of hate-mongering and his stubborn refusal to acknowledge reality, his behavior since the election is to be expected — and criticized as the direct challenge to democracy that it is.

Opinion | Only Truth Can Save Our Democracy – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“On Saturday morning I was sitting in the kitchen with my wife, Ann, who was stirring her Cream of Wheat, when out of nowhere she surprised me with a question: “Is not lying one of the Ten Commandments?”

I had to stop and think for a second myself, before answering: “Yes, thou shalt not bear false witness.”

The fact that the two of us even momentarily struggled over that question is, for me, the worst legacy of the Trump presidency.

You remember the old joke? Moses comes down from Mount Sinai and tells the children of Israel: “Children, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I bargained him down to 10. The bad news is that adultery is still in.”

Well, I’ve got bad news and worse news: We’re now down to nine.

Yes, this was a historic four years — even one of the Ten Commandments got erased. Lying has been normalized at a scale we’ve never seen before. Hence Ann’s question.

I am not sure how we reverse it, but we’d better — and fast.

People who do not share truths can’t defeat a pandemic, can’t defend the Constitution and can’t turn the page after a bad leader. The war for truth is now the war to preserve our democracy.

It is impossible to maintain a free society when leaders and news purveyors feel at liberty to spread lies without sanction. Without truth there is no agreed-upon path forward, and without trust there is no way to go down that path together.

But our hole now is so deep, because the only commandment President Trump did believe in was the Eleventh: “Thou shalt not get caught.”

Lately, though, Trump and many around him stopped believing even in that — they don’t seem to care about being caught.”

“. . . .  Lies don’t work unless they’re believed, and nearly half the American public has proved remarkably gullible,” my former Times colleague David K. Shipler, who served in our Moscow bureau during the Cold War, said to me. “I think of each of us as having our own alarm — and it’s as if half of their batteries have died. Lots of Trump’s lies, and his retweets of conspiracy fabrications, are obviously absurd. Why have so many people believed them? I’m not sure it’s fully understood.”

That is why it’s vital that every reputable news organization — especially television, Facebook and Twitter — adopt what I call the Trump Rule. If any official utters an obvious falsehood or fact-free allegation, the interview should be immediately terminated, just as many networks did with Trump’s lie-infested, postelection, news conference last week. If critics scream “censorship,” just shout back “truth.”

This must become the new normal. Politicians need to be terrified every time they go on TV that the plug will be pulled on them if they lie.”

Opinion | This Election Put Politics Between My Twin and I – By Jeneen Interlandi – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Interlandi is a member of the editorial board.

Credit…The New York Times

“Once, when we were 5 years old, my twin brother jumped off a seesaw we were riding at the precise moment that we had been told never to do that. I was in the air, and he was on the ground, and when he made his move I came crashing rapidly and horrifically down.

I still remember the short burst of terror I felt, and the body-shaking thud that followed. But I also remember that the crash hurt him more than it hurt me. I wasn’t injured. His guilt was so great that nearly four decades later, he still gets upset when I tell this story.

We are best friends, my twin and I. Our relationship predates our actual lives, and except for the seesaw incident, we have never been on opposite sides of anything that could hurt one of us — until recently.

He believes that Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden are the biggest threats to our ailing democracy, that Donald Trump is doing a fine job — maybe not great, but definitely not terrible — and that the mainstream media (of which I am a part) is biased in its coverage of the president.”

Opinion | The War on Truth Reaches Its Climax – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

“I began writing a column for The Times way back in 2000. My beat was supposed to be economics and business. But I couldn’t help noticing that one of that year’s contenders for the presidency was systematically making false claims about his policy proposals. George W. Bush kept insisting that his one-percent-friendly tax cuts were targeted on the middle class, and his plan to privatize Social Security just wished away the system’s obligations to older Americans.

At the time, however, my editors told me that it wasn’t acceptable to use the word “lie” when writing about presidential candidates.

By now, though, most informed observers have, I think, finally decided that it’s OK to report the fact that Donald Trump lies constantly.

Many of the lies are trivial, often bizarrely so, like Trump’s repeated claims to have received an award that doesn’t even exist. But the president has closed out this year’s campaign with two huge, dangerous lies — and there’s every reason to fear that this week he will roll out a third big lie, perhaps even more dangerous than the first two.”

Opinion | Trump Lives in a Hall of Mirrors and He’s Got Plenty of Company – By Peter Wehner – The New York Times

By 

Contributing Opinion Writer

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

If Donald Trump loses his re-election bid, there will be a lot of ruin to sort through. But his most damaging and enduring legacy may well turn out to be the promiscuous use of conspiracy theories that have defined both the man and his presidency.

The president’s cruelest policies, like intentionally separating children from their parents at the border, can at least be ended, although their devastating effects will reverberate for decades. It’s less clear what the half-life is for his conspiracy theorizing, which fundamentally distorts the way people think about politics, our country and reality itself.

There have been so many conspiracy theories it’s easy to forget some of them, and this list is hardly exhaustive, but it includes Mr. Trump claiming that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States and that Bill and Hillary Clinton were behind the death of their former aide Vince Foster; suggesting that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President John Kennedy and that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough was involved in the death of a staff member nearly 20 years ago; retweeting claims that SEAL Team 6 didn’t kill Osama bin Laden in 2011; insisting that Ukraine was hiding Hillary Clinton’s missing emails and that Mr. Obama wiretapped Mr. Trump’s phones; and promoting QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory that believes, as Kevin Roose put it in The Times, that “the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are plotting against Mr. Trump while operating a global child sex-trafficking ring.”

There was a time when popularizing such crazed machinations would have caused one to be cast to the outer fringes of American politics; in the case of Mr. Trump, it helped elect him and has created a cultlike devotion among tens of millions of his supporters. And because of Mr. Trump, conspiracy theorizing is now a central feature of the Republican Party and American politics.

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