From the October 16 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Donald Trump’s biggest lie is about the election itself, the integrity of the election. He is alleging a massive conspiracy, thereby creating a massive challenge for the news media. Trump has been planting seeds for over a year, warning supporters not to trust the government, the polls, or the media because it's all rigged, he says.
STELTER: The first couple times that he said this, it was news. It was very disturbing news. It got a lot of attention. But over time, the repetition, Trump's lies about election rigging, have become a form of background noise, more of the same. And this is a propaganda technique, whether Trump knows it or not. If you say something often enough, if you plant enough seeds, people start to wonder, will my vote matter? Will it actually count?
STELTER: We as a country cannot allow ourselves to become numb to this. We as a media cannot shrug it off as old news. Because the real danger here is that when Trump lies to his supporters about the others who are trying to steal the election, some of his supporters believe him.
STELTER: This is the whole ballgame, and this is what I really want to say. I'm proud that journalists are standing up individually, speaking up in ways that we rarely see. They're not anti-Trump, they're pro-democracy. Julie Pace writing for the AP today, says Trump's claims about vote rigging,“made without evidence, undercuts the essence of American democracy.” Ashley Parker, writing for The New York Times, says we haven’t seen a “candidate from one of the two major parties try to cast doubt on the entire democratic process and system of government since the brink of the Civil War.” I know Trump supporters tend to dismiss those sources. So that’s why conservative journalists have to play a role here, and conservative commentators too. On the day after President Obama’s reelection, Sean Hannity accepted the results.
SEAN HANNITY (VIDEO CLIP): And tonight, the 2012 race for the White House has been called in Obama's favor. … And the voice and the will of the people were heard and felt last night. America wanted Barack Obama for four more years and now we have him. By the way, good look with that.
STELTER: Let's remember that sound bite. Will Hannity accept the result if Clinton prevails three weeks from now? Will he?
What’s happening right now is a test. It's a test for our voting system, run by the states, by the way, not the federal government. Our voting system is run by Republicans and Democrats, with thousands of volunteers and layers of oversight. When there’s voter fraud, when it rarely happens, it is investigated. So it's a test for our system, but what's happening is also a test for journalism.
There is a lot the media can do to instill confidence in our election system. This might include phone banks or online tools on Election Day,giving people easy ways to report possible fraud or voter intimidation. This should also include frequent reminders that voter fraud is rare and that it is investigated and prosecuted. I think right now, in this dangerous moment, we have an obligation to you, the audience, because, well actually, Trump has peddled this stuff before. On the night President Obama was reelected, Trump threw a tantrum on Twitter. He said, “This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!” The next day he tweeted four words that we’ve all come to know, look at this. He wrote, “We have to make America great again!” Mr. Trump, think of your children. America is great partly because everyone accepts the results of elections, for decades in the past and hopefully for decades to come. Inventing a conspiracy theory is no way to make America great again.