Disgraced former President Donald Trump has endorsed a series of candidates for secretary of state who openly push his lies about the 2020 election, potentially setting up a future crisis if they are placed in charge of state election systems in 2024. So far, election deniers have won Republican nominations for secretary of state in Arizona, Michigan, and Nevada, while a Trump-aligned secretary of state would also be appointed in Pennsylvania if Republican nominee Doug Mastriano wins the governorship there.
In the upside-down world of Fox News, however, it is Democrats who are targeting secretary of state offices, rather than defending against an ongoing push to subvert American democracy from within.
On Monday’s edition of The Faulkner Focus, guest anchor Gillian Turner highlighted an interview that Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold gave to The Guardian, in which she said, “The country could lose the right to vote in less than three months” if the Trump-aligned candidates win the secretary of state races and take control of election systems in those swing states. (Griswold is head of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, thus her focus on the national picture.)
Neglecting any of the context about those other races, Turner instead acted as if Griswold was only speaking about her own election.
“Griswold’s Republican opponent is Pam Anderson, firing back saying the secretary is trying to change election laws to keep herself in office,” Turner told Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz. “Which of those scenarios rings true to you?”
“I think it’s fearmongering,” Chaffetz replied, “and shame on the secretary of state for trying to do that.”
Turner also asked: “Why are Democrats lasering in so sharply on these secretary of state races across the nation?” (It is in fact Trump allies like Steve Bannon and OAN who are targeting these once seemingly obscure races.)
Chaffetz then falsely claimed that “you heard Joe Biden a few months ago say, it’s not who votes, it’s who counts the votes,” before resorting to a familiar target of antisemitic conspiracy theories from Fox News and the far-right fringe. “And so, when you have a lieutenant governor or secretary of state who gets to certify these elections in the state, they know that they’ve got to get their George Soros-type supported people out there and in those offices.”
Just to be clear, Biden did not say what Chaffetz claimed he said. Instead, the former Republican congressman echoed a false claim circulating online, supposing that Biden had earnestly repeated a quote often attributed to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
To the degree that Biden has in any sense alluded to such language, it has been as a description of the threat now hanging over American democracy from Trump, as well as from his allies who are openly coordinating efforts to subvert future elections.
Fox has done its own part in pushing propaganda against voter access. And now, it is running a cover operation as other people do the dirty work of turning Trump’s previous failed effort to manipulate election officials into a successful plan next time.