Fox & Friends, President Donald Trump’s favorite morning TV show, hosted the founder of a conservative election monitoring non-profit to discuss the danger of alleged widespread fraud in mail-in voting. Within half an hour, Trump amplified her organization’s Twitter account, casting doubt upon the integrity of the upcoming election.
On September 17, Fox & Friends hosted Catherine Engelbrecht, the founder of True The Vote, a conservative election monitoring non-profit that claims its fighting against “radicalized leftist organizations … exploiting the weaknesses of our electoral process.” Engelbrecht said that the recently discovered 1,666 New Jersey ballots which were accidentally left uncounted in the state’s July 7 primary election were evidence of “engineered chaos” and “part of a plan to open up legal battlefields nationwide.” Engelbrecht later said that we might not have “a legitimate outcome [for the 2020 election] for a very very long time, if at all” because “there is an orchestrated effort” to cause “confusion.”
Approximately 20 minutes later, President Donald Trump promoted Engelbrecht’s organization on Twitter, declaring that “the new and unprecedented massive amount of unsolicited ballots” means “the Nov 3rd Election result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED, which is what some want.” He shared the same message on Facebook. There is no evidence that “some” want an inaccurate 2020 election result, and there is no evidence that universal mail-in voting will be used to perpetuate widespread fraud.
CNN's Marshall Cohen pointed out that Trump's false tweet may be in violation of Twitter's rules against election misinformation.
Conservative media have overhyped warnings of voter fraud for years, a rare crime frequently presented as a constant threat to election integrity. Fraud is also rare with mail-in voting, which is being considered by more Americans than ever before due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the face of these facts, such reckless warnings of fraud fuel voter suppression. As more people consider mailing in their ballots, Fox News is again amplifying exaggerated, baseless, or completely false claims or warnings of fraud, straight from the TV to the president’s desk.
This new effort from Fox & Friends, True the Vote, and Trump comes hours after Trump's own former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned in The New York Times that: “Our democracy’s enemies, foreign and domestic, want us to concede in advance that our voting systems are faulty or fraudulent; that sinister conspiracies have distorted the political will of the people; that our public discourse has been perverted by the news media and social networks riddled with prejudice, lies and ill will; that judicial institutions, law enforcement and even national security have been twisted, misused and misdirected to create anxiety and conflict, not justice and social peace.”