The View from Above the Tribal Chanting
No, New York Times et al, the American news media — mainstream, alternative, or otherwise — has no role, duty, or constitutional right to declare, decide, or determine who won an election, i.e., who is the rightful leader of the country. A society in which a small group of private individuals or private organizations had the power to make such decisions or declarations would be an oligarchy.
The news media, whether taken as various independent entities (as they ought to be in a free republic) or collectively (as they actually behave in today’s America), has no real “duty” at all in political matters, beyond the moral duty all citizens have to act and speak in the best interests of their community, as they honestly perceive those interests; and they have no “right” whatsoever beyond the right to choose which stories to report, which not to report, and how they wish to frame those stories — essentially the same right to free speech that ought to be respected for all citizens. Thus, the New York Times has no more legal or moral authority to declare anyone president than the cobbler or barber or hotdog vendor on your street; and any such declarations they might make ought to be treated with no more constitutional legitimacy than similar claims by any of those others.
No, Bill Whittle, Roger Kimball, et al, it is not the “job” or “responsibility” of the press to dig for evidence of a rigged election where no plausible allegations have been made. Media behavior that would have been attacked as a “fishing expedition” if it were used against your side cannot suddenly be demanded of the media as the proper and legitimate function of the press in a case where you hope it might help your side.
Given the emotional tinder box that is today’s America, and the insuperable climate of suspicion and genuine hatred on “both sides” of the tribal divide, is not a sitting president openly and repeatedly calling an election “rigged,” “stolen,” and “fraudulent” equivalent to shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater?
If Trump had said, “We have some reports of anomalies in the vote-counting process,” or “I want a reassessment of the mail-in ballots in some states,” this might be seen as part of the procedure of filing a legal challenge to the results in some jurisdictions, and the allegations could have been discussed and dealt with in a rational manner. Instead, Trump has used rhetoric plainly intended to foment passionate distrust of the electoral system, and to hook millions of his followers into the narrative of a systematic, nationwide criminal act undertaken by a vast network of nefarious actors determined to directly cancel and overturn the votes of millions of Americans. In other words, Trump is trying to persuade his seventy million voters that the electoral system is now fundamentally corrupt, i.e., that elections no longer have any legitimacy in America.
How is this rhetoric — incendiary, radical, deliberately undermining of the most basic public trust in the validity of the democratic political structure, and based, so far, on no significant evidence — not calibrated to promote the kind of mass cynicism and disdain for civilized political discourse that serves only the interests of authoritarian demagoguery and do-or-die irrationalism on all sides?
The news media and the Democratic Party (a distinction without a difference, I know) will use this election’s apparent result and the renewed mock-fervor over a pandemic deliberately stretched out for months for the purpose of ensuring more cases this winter, as grounds for instituting, mostly by fiat, a panoply of authoritarian measures, many of them no doubt completely unconstitutional (but who cares about that anymore?), as a further and ultimate test of just how far the American sheep class (about 95% of the adult population, on my charitable calculation), are willing to be dragged toward submission to unbridled totalitarian rule in the name of saving themselves from their cowardly, irrational, hysterical, and disgustingly infantile self-concern.
If the rest of the world — always excepting Sweden — is any indication, the progressives will get the test result they are hoping for, and will henceforth know that how far they tighten the tethers on their slaves in the future need be limited by no considerations beyond their own authoritarian expediency and pragmatic calculations.
“But the media created and fostered this hysteria with its false and misleading representation of the pandemic.”
A half-truth. The media depended on the weak-mindedness, petty self-interest, and fundamental lack of sincere public-spiritedness that was obviously already rife throughout American society to pursue their dishonorable goals. They too, like Trump, are cavalier and opportunistic to sociopathic levels about the value of exploiting mass moral infantilism and intellectual vacuity for the sake of their own interests.