Fox News continued Friday morning to provide cover for President Donald Trump’s tweet from Thursday, which suggested that America might “Delay the Election” rather than allow it to take place with expanded mail-in voting.
Previously, Fox News personalities ridiculed comments by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who said in April that Trump might attempt to put off the election. At the time, Fox News commentators called such accusations a “bizarre conspiracy theory,” “so dumb,” “an attempt to frighten people,” “a conjuring,” and other terms of derision.
But on Friday’s edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts used Trump’s tweet suggesting Election Day should be postponed as a springboard to attack the concept of mail-in voting itself, and insisted that Trump was really just trying to highlight such concerns in the first place. In so doing, they not only helped to spread further lies about the voting process, but they also suggested it would be unreliable because of budget measures that have been put in place by the Trump administration itself.
“Well, a lot of Americans don't trust the U.S. postal system, because they’ve had budget cuts, they’ve had so many problems in the past, you know, decade or whatever, however long it’s been,” said co-host Ainsley Earhardt. “And everyone knows if you go in-person to vote, you know your vote is counted. But if you try to mail something in, there’s a big chance that it's not going to get to the folks who are counting these ballots.”
Not mentioned, of course, is that the Trump administration has opposed measures to shore up the Postal Service’s finances during the pandemic, and it has also put in place new measures to slow down mail delivery. It is these acts that have election officials worried about potential problems with mail-in voting — but which Fox News and other conservative media will use as a reason to oppose the expansion of voting, rather than work to counter those harmful obstacles that have been put in place.
Co-host Brian Kilmeade also invoked a scenario he has pitched before, imagining family dynamics resulting in voter fraud or coercion and urging viewers to “just use logic” about it.
“You sit in your house, there’s five ballots for your family. Three of your kids, 18 to 21, ‘I'm not going to vote, you can vote for me, you could send it in. When I get around to doing it, you click the box,’” Kilmeade said. “Domineering parent tells the kids how they’re going to vote. Or some kids will grab their parents' ballot and send it. Can't we just have this one moment to vote for one candidate every four years, and show up and put a ballot in without licking an envelope or pressing on a stamp? If you can shop for food, if you can buy liquor, you can vote once every four years.”
Later on, the program hosted White House senior adviser Stephen Miller to help spread false claims about mail-in voting.
Co-host Pete Hegseth — who in Fox’s earlier coverage helped to lay the groundwork for a reinterpretation that Trump was really intended to bring attention to the alleged problems with mail-in voting — asked Miller a softball question: “He took to the podium to use that reaction, to explain about the many problems we’ve seen with absentee ballots not being counted on time, fraud with mail-in ballots. Explain what the White House is attempting to do to ensure election integrity on November 3?”
“Here’s a shocking thing for your audience to consider. Nobody who mails in a ballot has their identity confirmed — nobody checks to see if they’re even a U.S. citizen,” Miller responded. “Think about that. Any foreign national — talk about foreign election interference — can mail in a ballot, and nobody even verifies if they're a citizen of the United States of America. Now, this would be happening on a scale of potentially millions of people.”
As pointed out by Bloomberg’s Ryan Beckwith, this claim from Miller is false and media outlets should not be reporting on it without that disclaimer.
“What can be done at the White House to pressure states to actually do validated, in-person voting,” Hegseth asked, “as opposed to allowing secretaries of states to say, ’Hey, we’re going to mail this one in?’”
“Well, one of the things that we need to do, first of all, is raise awareness, so that citizens in every state can put pressure on their local leaders and their governors to fight universal balloting,” Miller proclaimed boldly. “That's a critical issue. Obviously, the Department of Justice has a responsibility to look at all issues relating to voter fraud in this country.”
“But you want to talk about voter suppression, you want to talk about denying people their franchise — that's what universal mail-in ballots are all about,” Miller claimed. “Universal mail-in ballots are an attempt to dilute the vote of your viewers. It's an attempt to dilute the vote of Americans who want to have their identities verified, by allowing for massive, endemic fraud. That is scandalous.”