On this Election Day 2020 — and with the possibility that the vote count might take more time than usual to determine a winner, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and increased interest in mail-in voting — right-wing media are spinning another doozy of a conspiracy theory about Pennsylvania’s attorney general rigging the election.
The reason: because he tweeted in support of counting all legally cast votes.
The Trump campaign is currently setting up a scenario in which President Donald Trump might have an apparent lead in votes on election night, and then for him to prematurely declare victory and delegitimize any further counting of mail-in ballots.
A key issue of this propaganda campaign has revolved around Pennsylvania, with right-wing media pitching conspiracy theories about a key case in which the state’s high court allowed a three-day extension for mail-in ballots to arrive, a measure that has been taken as a result of severe delays in the U.S. Postal Service. (Trump has also previously admitted that he opposed providing additional funding to the Postal Service because to do so would facilitate mail-in voting, and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was one of his major donors.)
The Supreme Court has so far refused to expedite consideration of Republican attempts to throw out the affected mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania. But Democrats in the state are still worried that the Republican-dominated court might intervene after Election Day.
Against this backdrop, the state’s Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro tweeted a message on Saturday, in fervent defense of the rights of his state’s voters.
Shapiro also linked to an article in The Philadelphia Inquirer with the headline “Trump baselessly sows doubt about election at Pennsylvania rallies while coronavirus surges.” So there ought to have been no doubt as to what he was talking about here.
In response to Shapiro’s tweet, right-wing media have launched a new conspiracy theory: His statement that Trump will lose Pennsylvania — thus explaining the Trump campaign’s efforts to throw out votes — is supposedly another sign that the state attorney general is rigging the system.
On Sunday, The Daily Wire accused Shapiro of having “looked into his crystal ball and prognosticated” on the election result. On Monday, Shapiro tweeted another message declaring that in Pennsylvania, “we know how to follow the law and run our elections. … People vote. We add up all the eligible votes. And we the people pick the president.” In response, the site then accused him of having “suddenly backed down from his boast” about the election result.
Fox News contributor Dan Bongino also accused the state attorney general of “openly INTERFERING in the election.”
Fox News host Mark Levin also chimed in with an insult and a direct commentary on the potential stakes over Trump claiming victory in the state.
On the election eve edition of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, the host even said that in Pennsylvania, “Republicans there are now suing the state to throw out all mail-in ballots received after Election Day.” Dobbs also noted that the Supreme Court might “ultimately rule in favor of Republicans” and then turned his ire on Shapiro.
“Before any vote has been counted, however, Pennsylvania's radical Dem Attorney General Josh Shapiro has already declared Joe Biden is the winner,” Dobbs declared. “Shapiro tweeted this in part: ‘If all the votes are added up in Pennsylvania, Trump is going to lose.’ Now, what does he mean ‘if all the votes are counted’ — what does that mean?”
And on Election Day morning, Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo claimed that “red flags went up” when “Pennsylvania's Democrat attorney general declar[ed] that Biden has already won.”
Her guest Steve Forbes, chairperson of Forbes Media, then said that Shapiro should recuse himself if there is any court challenge, adding: “They're saying in Pennsylvania that if Trump doesn't win the actual vote by a couple of points, he’ll lose it through this kind of fraud at the ballot box. And that's where their real attention should be. How do you prevent it? I think the GOP is on it, but that's the thing.”
Later in the program, Bartiromo interviewed former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who accused Shapiro of being the one who was engaged in “voter suppression.”