Briefly Noted for 2020-11-25
Briefly Noted for 2020-11-26

Boehlert: A Crack in the Noise Machine: How Murdoch Derailed Trump—Noted

The thoughtful and insightful Eric Boehlert misses the major moment at which Rupert Murdoch put his press empire at the service of Joe Biden and America in ending the insane clown show that his been the presidential reign of Donald Trump. On the evening of election day, at 23:20 EST, Arnon Mishkin on the Fox News decision desk called Arizona and its 11 electoral votes for Joe Biden. Without Arizona, Trump would need not just Georgia (which Biden won by 0.2%) and Wisconsin (which Biden won by 0.7%) but also at least one of Pennsylvania (which Biden won by 1.2%) or Michigan (which Biden won by 2.8%). Calling Arizona for Biden put out of reach an election close enough that it could be decided for Trump by complaisant judges and a little more voter suppression. Yet Biden won Arizona, in the end, by only 0.3%.

Fox News did not call Michigan and Wisconsin for Biden until Wednesday afternoon, and did not call Pennsylvania until Saturday, and did not call Georgia until the 21st. Calling Arizona for Biden kept Fox News reporters and anchors—and those who relied on Fox’s numbers—from stating that Trump was on the way to victory Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Arnon Mishkin’s thinking remains obscure. Facing pushback at Fox News Wednesday about how Trump might still have the votes outstanding to catch Biden, Mishkin snarked: “If a frog had wings…” Mishkin said that he had made the call with only 20% of the vote outstanding. But if that outstanding vote had broken more than 1-in-60 for Trump than it in fact did, Trump would have won Arizona. “Too close to call as of Tuesday night” seems to have been the reality. Mishkin’s call was based on a misjudgment of how the vote would come in. The question we will probably never now for certain is how he came to make that misjudgment:

Eric Boehlert: A Crack in the Noise Machine: How Murdoch Derailed Trump ‘A longtime Beltway columnist recently lowered the boom on Republicans. "The sheer nuttiness surrounding the current mess is becoming deeply destructive," she wrote. "There is no realistic route to victory for the president, only to confusion and chaos and undermining"...

...If the wounded president is looking for media voices of comfort since Election Day, the last place he should look is Rupert Murdoch's editorial page at the Wall Street Journal. A longtime bastion of right-wing rhetoric and propaganda, the opinion section that waged a hysterical war on Bill Clinton for eight years and that remained a mostly steadfast ally of Trump, has had a clear message for him in recent weeks: Here's your hat, what's your hurry. That was the directive columnist Peggy Noonan sent last week in the passages quoted above, penning a sneering take-down....

Noonan has hardly been alone as Journal columnists, as well as the unsigned editorials that run on the page, have all lined up to mock and belittle Trump's failed effort to steal an election.... Using all three of his American properties, Fox News, the New York Post, and the Wall Street Journal, Murdoch clearly sent a top-down message that he did not support Trump....

GOP propaganda works best, and has proven to be so effective over the years years, when there's a united media front pushing the same lies and distortions. It creates a powerful feedback loop.... It’s clear that it was Murdoch who sent out the dictate and who for weeks has enforced the company line. None of this stuff happens by chance.... For the last three weeks he's been using them to send a message to Trump, 'Move on,’ especially the hard-right pages of the Journal:

  • "If Mr. Trump had solid evidence of massive wrongdoing, it should be taken to court by a serious practicing attorney. Mr. Giuliani’s role as lead lawyer suggests this is political theater."
  • "His efforts so far to prove massive fraud have been as successful as O.J. Simpson’s efforts to find the real killer."
  • "There's no good evidence of voting problems that would come close to Mr. Biden’s lead of 73,000 votes in Pennsylvania or 145,000 in Michigan."

At the Post, the paper accused Trump of making an “unfounded claim that political foes were trying to steal the election," while mocking his son, Donald Trump Jr., as the “panic-stricken” author of a “clueless tweet" about election fraud.... "It’s a pervasive, unpatriotic lie," Jonah Goldberg said. "They are alleging an insane, bat guano crazy conspiracy theory."...

I don't know why he chose this moment to oppose Trump.... It’s important to note the role the media play in our politics and how small, rare rifts within the right-wing echo chamber can have long-term consequences.

.#noted #2020-11-25