Fox News is helping bolster and mainstream “conspiratorial” and “preposterous” claims made by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump that the presidential election will be “rigged” and “illegitimate.” The charges originated with Trump allies and conspiracy theorists Roger Stone and Alex Jones, who directed Trump to “begin talking about” a “rigged” election “constantly.”
Trump Allies Roger Stone And Alex Jones Direct Trump To “Begin Talking About” A “Rigged” Election “Constantly”
Roger Stone: “We Have Widespread Voter Fraud,” And “Trump Needs To … Begin Talking About It Constantly.” Trump booster and conspiracy theorist Roger Stone encouraged Trump to raise the issue of a “rigged” election, telling The Milo Yiannopoulos Show on July 29, “I think we have widespread voter fraud, but the first thing that Trump needs to do is begin talking about it constantly.” Stone said that Trump has to put voters “on notice” that “The government will be shut down if they attempt to steal this and swear Hillary in.” [Breitbart News, 7/29/16]
Alex Jones: Hillary Clinton Is “Going To Try To Steal The General Election.” Trump ally and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones asserted that Clinton “stole the primary” and is “going to try to steal the general election,” adding, '“If you think Hillary’s going to stop at stealing the nomination, if you think she isn’t going to try to steal the general election, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I want to sell you.” [InfoWars, 8/1/16]
Trump Echoes Stone And Jones To Hype A “Dirty,” “Rigged” Election
Trump At Rally: “I’m Afraid The Election Is Going To Be Rigged.” On August 1, Trump said, “I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest.” [Media Matters, 8/1/16]
Trump To Fox’s Sean Hannity: “We’d Better Be Careful, Because [The] Election’s Going To Be Rigged.” On August 1, Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity, “November 8th, we'd better be careful, because that election’s going to be rigged. And I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it's going to be taken away from us.” Trump said that he’s “been hearing about it for a long time.” [FoxNews.com, 8/1/16]
Trump Tells Wash. Post: “I Wouldn’t Be Surprised If The Election” Was “Rigged.” In an August 2 interview with The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker, Trump said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if “the election is rigged” because “there’s a lot of dirty pool played at the election.” Trump alleged that judicial blocks on strict voter ID laws are evidence of a “rigged election,” because “We may have people vote 10 times.” [The Washington Post, 8/2/16]
Fox News Lends Credence To Trump’s Charge Of “Rigged” Election
Fox’s Sean Hannity And Newt Gingrich: “If You Assume That She Lies … Why Would You Expect” Clinton To Hold “An Honest Election?” Fox News host Sean Hannity suggested that Trump’s assertion of a “rigged election” was probable because it is “possible” the 2012 election was rigged. Fox contributor Newt Gingrich agreed, asking if you assume that [Hillary Clinton] lies, … why would you expect her to have an honest election? From the August 2 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Let's go back to the earlier issue of Trump saying we got to be careful, that it's rigged. Now, we did learn that the DNC rigged the system with superdelegates and the DNC was fully behind Hillary Clinton the entire way, and the emails proved that. Here's an interesting statistic. The [Philadelphia] Inquirer, one week after the 2012 election pointed out that in 59 separate precincts in inner city Philadelphia, that Mitt Romney did not get a single vote, not one. And according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer, there were nine precincts in Cleveland alone, again, not a single Romney vote, not one. Now, maybe I'm conspiratorial. Maybe this is a stretch. But 70 districts in two cities, 70-plus districts, not a single vote for Romney? Is that possible?
NEWT GINGRICH: Sure. Look, my first real presidential election in terms of being involved and paying attention was 1960 between Nixon and Kennedy. And I don't think any historian doubts that the Democrats stole Illinois and they stole Texas, and that was the margin of the election, just straight-out theft. People in Chicago who’d been dead for a long time managed to still miraculously vote. People in parts of Texas where Lyndon Johnson could deliver them voted even if they no longer existed. I think there's a long tradition on the part of Democratic machines of trying to steal elections, and that's why what really matters is for Republicans to recognize that and organize enough Republican attorneys and Republican poll watchers to offset it. I mean, you have to assume the other side -- and this goes back to everything that Trump has been saying about Hillary. I mean, if you assume that she's a crook, as he says, if you assume that she lies, as he says, why would you expect her to have an honest election? But the job, then, is for the Republicans to recruit enough poll watchers and to recruit enough attorneys that you can go nose to nose with them everywhere in the country and not allow that to happen. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/2/16]
Fox’s Heather Nauert: Trump “Could Be Right” About A “Rigged” Election. Fox anchor Heather Nauert said that Trump “could be right” about the election being “rigged,” because the Department of Homeland Security said that “electronic voting machines complicate cyber security and they say they are actively working to protect those systems from getting hacked this year.” From the August 4 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
HEATHER NAUERT: Donald Trump adamant about one thing in this election season. This.
DONALD TRUMP: And I'm afraid the election’s going to be rigged. I have to be honest.
NAUERT: And he could be right. The Department of Homeland Security confirming overnight that electronic voting machines complicate cyber security and they say they are actively working to protect those systems from getting hacked this year. Well, the massive security concern coming a after a string of really embarrassing security lapses within the DNC email accounts. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/4/16]
Fox’s Anna Kooiman: “There Are A Lot Of Americans That Think” The Election Will Be Rigged. Fox host Anna Kooiman blasted President Obama for assuring that the election will not be rigged, claiming “there are a lot of Americans that think that that might be the case.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/5/16]
Fox Contributor Mercedes Schlapp: Discussing The Possibility Of Rigged Election Is “An Important Discussion To Have Going Into The Election.” Fox contributor Mercedes Schlapp said, “absolutely” “there are concerns” that the election may be rigged, adding that “talking about voter fraud, talking about voter ID laws … is an important discussion to have going into the election.” From the August 3 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now:
JON SCOTT (HOST): Are there legitimate fears [about the election being rigged?]
MERCEDES SCHLAPP: Well I think there are concerns. And I think it’s interesting that you mention that because former Supreme Court Justice [John Paul] Stevens made it very clear in a majority opinion that he gave years back saying that the risk of voter fraud is real, especially when it comes to close elections. And I have to tell you, it’s something you're seeing in the sense of the voter ID laws that have been passed and the fact is that an overwhelming majority of Americans agree, for example, that you should have a voter ID shown before you cast a ballot. We know that there has been voter fraud in the past. You’ve seen undercover journalists even show that this is the case that happens in several states. And another thing that’s been pointed out, actually Wired magazine wrote about this, is the fact that when you even look at our voting machines, for example, they are actually, their security systems are not up to date. And they could be easily hacked. These are the realities we are seeing. And all I think is that we need to ensure that we value the integrity of the election.
SCHLAPP: There's something to be said about the fact that you’ve seen how the process worked in the primary, where you have many Bernie supporters who were outraged by the fact that the DNC was helping Hillary Clinton and basically attacking Bernie Sanders. So yes, is there a concern? Absolutely. And talking about voter fraud, talking about voter ID laws, I think this is a national dialogue. This is an important discussion to have going into the election. [Fox News, Happening Now, 8/3/16]
Stone And Jones Cheer Trump’s “Rigged” Election Charges
Stone And Jones “Pleased” That Trump Was “Following [Their] Outside Advice.” Roger Stone and Alex Jones took a victory lap after Trump raised the possibility of a “rigged” election. Stone told Politico he was “pleased Trump was seemingly following his outside advice.” Stone said, “You have to inoculate early on this. You have to educate people to the fact that this is a real possibility.” Alex Jones celebrated that Trump was “echoing sentiments expressed by Alex Jones.” [Media Matters, 8/3/16]
National Media Figures Dismiss Trump’s “Conspiratorial” Charges Of A “Rigged” Election
Bloomberg's John Heilemann: Trump's Claim That The Election Will Be Rigged Is “Quite Troubling.” Bloomberg Politics co-managing editor John Heilemann said it was “quite troubling” and “unprecedented” that “a nominee of a major political party would try to be spinning his defeat in advance, and suggesting that basically American democracy is broken and is crooked in some way? Never seen that before.” From the August 5 edition of CBS’ CBS This Morning:
JOSH ELLIOTT (CO-HOST): But [Donald Trump] himself also seems to perhaps be signaling this by saying a few times now the election is rigged. President Obama yesterday spoke to it. Do you think -- and that's quite a flag to plant. Do you think he believes that, or is this the beginnings of the makings of an excuse?
JOHN HEILEMANN: I have traveled in some strange and difficult to explore places, Josh, but what exactly goes on inside Donald Trump's head, I don't really know. It's an amazing thing, though. It seems like every day, we have something that happens where it's unprecedented, right? The notion that a nominee of a major political party would try to be spinning his defeat in advance, and suggesting that basically American democracy is broken and is crooked in some way? Never seen that before. It's, I think, really quite troubling. [CBS, CBS This Morning, 8/5/16]
CNN's Brian Stelter Blasts “Conspiratorial” Trump For “Preposterous” Charges Of A Rigged Election. CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter slammed Trump’s “preposterous” assertion that the election will be rigged. Stelter explained that “Given that Donald Trump has this tendency toward conspiracy theories,” and has “embraced the birther movement, ...I think we have to be careful talking about his idea of a rigged election. There's just nothing to back it up.” From the August 5 edition of CNN's Early Start:
GEORGE HOWELL (HOST): We've heard Trump talk about the possibility of a rigged election.
BRIAN STELTER: I think we have to even be careful talking about it because it is so preposterous. We know that there are very few cases of voter fraud in this country. We know that Donald Trump by all the current polls is not ahead. We know that Donald Trump is a conspiratorial figure. Think back about five years ago when he was talking about Barack Obama's citizenship. Questioning his citizenship. Donald Trump embraced the birther movement five years ago. In some ways, that's what put him on to the national stage as a political figure. Given that Donald Trump has this tendency toward conspiracy theories, I think we have to be careful talking about his idea of a rigged election. There's just nothing to back it up. But by talking about it, he might be trying to delegitimize one of our most important institutions. [CNN, Early Start, 8/5/16]
MSNBC’s Zachary Roth: Claims Of A “Rigged” Election Are “Inflammatory, … “Irresponsible, And False.” MSNBC reporter Zachary Roth blasted Trump’s “inflammatory, and irresponsible, and false” charges of a “rigged election,” and noted how “this stuff is kind of built into the fabric of conservative rhetoric,” pointing to similar claims by John McCain in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2004. From the August 3 edition of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes:
CHRIS HAYES (HOST): So in just the past two weeks, courts struck down restrictions on voters in five different states. Today in Texas, the state reached a deal to weaken its voter I.D. law for the elections in November after a federal appeals court ruled that the drafters of the bill knew it would disproportionately affect minorities. Writing for the majority, one judge wrote that “it would be untenable to permit a law with a discriminatory effect to remain in operation.” Then in North Dakota, a federal judge blocked the state’s voter I.D. law on Monday, writing, “the record is replete with concrete evidence of significant burdens on Native American voters.” Last Friday, similar rulings loosening voter restrictions were handed out in Kansas, Wisconsin and North Carolina. The court noting in a latter case, the law had specific provisions to, quote, “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”
ZACHARY ROTH: There has been this sort of deep-rooted skepticism about democracy, going back to the founders, through the 19th century, seeing conservative rhetoric up into the 20th century. It seemed to go away after the passage of the Voting Rights Act. But Obama's ability to mobilize minorities and other marginalized voters has sort of resurfaced these fears. You showed that Donald Trump clip about talking about rigged elections. We all agree that's inflammatory, and irresponsible, and false. But the thing about it is, look at 2008, the presidential debate, McCain said a very similar thing. He said, “ACORN is on the verge of perpetrating the greatest fraud in history.” 2004, President Bush's campaign said there's rampant voter fraud that’s going to steal this election. So this stuff is kind of built into the fabric of conservative rhetoric. [MSNBC, All In with Chris Hayes, 8/3/16]