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Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections

Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections PDF

Author: Mollie Hemingway

Publisher: Regnery Publishing


Publish Date: October 12, 2021

ISBN-10: 168451259X

Pages: 448

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface

If questioning the results of a presidential election were a crime, as many have asserted in the wake of the controversial 2020 election and its aftermath, then much of the Democratic Party and media establishment should have been indicted for their behavior following the 2016 election. In fact, the last time Democrats fully accepted the legitimacy of a presidential election they lost was in 1988.

After the 2000 election, which hinged on the results of a recount in Florida, Democrats smeared President George W. Bush as “selected, not elected.”1 When Bush won re-election against then senator John Kerry in 2004, many on the left claimed that voting machines in Ohio had been rigged to deliver fraudulent votes to Bush.2 HBO even produced and aired the Emmy-nominated Hacking Democracy, a documentary claiming to show that “votes can be stolen without a trace,” adding fuel to the conspiracy theory fire that the results of the 2004 election were illegitimate.3 But nothing holds a candle to what happened in 2016 after Donald Trump’s surprising defeat of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Rather than accept that Trump won and Clinton lost fair and square, the political and media establishments desperately sought to explain away Trump’s victory. They settled on a destructive conspiracy theory that crippled the government, empowered America’s adversaries, and illegally targeted innocent private citizens whose only crime was not supporting Hillary Clinton.

The Russia collusion hoax had all the elements of an election conspiracy theory, including baseless claims of hacked voting totals, illegal voter suppression, and treasonous collaboration with a foreign power. Pundits and officials speculated openly that President Trump was a foreign asset and that members of his circle were under the thumb of the Kremlin.

But despite the patent absurdity of these claims, the belief that Trump stole the 2016 election had the support of the most powerful institutions, individuals, and even government agencies in the country. To question the legitimacy of the 2016 election wasn’t to undermine our democracy; it was considered by some of our most elevated public figures a patriotic duty.

“You can run the best campaign, you can even become the nominee, and you can have the election stolen from you,” Clinton told her followers in 2019.4

“I know he’s an illegitimate president,” Clinton claimed of Trump a few months later.5 She even said during an interview with CBS Sunday Morning that “voter suppression and voter purging and hacking” were the reasons for her defeat.6

Former president Jimmy Carter agreed. “[Trump] lost the election and was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf,” he told NPR in 2019. “Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016.”7

Their view was shared by most prominent Democrats in Congress. Representative John Lewis of Georgia, for example, said he was skipping Trump’s inauguration in 2016 because he believed Trump was illegitimate: “[T]he Russians participated in helping this man get elected.… That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not an open democratic process.”8 Lewis had also skipped the inauguration of President George W. Bush, claiming Bush, too, was an illegitimate president.9

A few members of Congress joined him in 2001. By 2017, one out of three Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives boycotted Trump’s inauguration.10 Many said they refused to take part in the installation of an “illegitimate” president.

The corporate media didn’t condemn leading Democrats’ refusal to accept the results of the 2016 election. In fact, the media amplified the most speculative claims of how Trump and Russia had colluded to steal the election from Clinton. They dutifully regurgitated inaccurate leaks from corrupt intelligence officials suggesting Trump and his staff had committed treason. They ran stories arguing that Republicans who didn’t support their conspiracy theory were insufficiently loyal to the country or somehow compromised themselves.11

It was all nonsense. Even Robert Mueller, who ran a multi-year and multi-million-dollar government investigation into claims that Trump personally colluded with Russian president Vladimir Putin to steal the election from Clinton, found no evidence to support the fevered accusations.12

The reporters who pushed this conspiracy theory were never held accountable by their peers for peddling leaks and lies. They received raises and promotions, honors and awards, and the applause of their colleagues. Some were given Pulitzer Prizes for “reporting” that was closer to fan fiction than an accurate description of events.13

From 2016 through 2020, the easiest way to achieve stardom on the political left was to loudly proclaim one’s belief that the 2016 election was illegitimate—stolen by the Russians on behalf of a corrupt traitor. Conspiracy-mongering, up to and including the assertion that the president of the United States was a secret Russian spy, was the highest form of patriotism.

And then 2020 happened.

At the drop of a hat, America’s electoral system went from irredeemably corrupt and broken in 2016 to unquestionably safe in 2020. Voting methods that were allegedly used to steal elections in 2004 and 2016 suddenly became sacrosanct and unquestionable in 2020. Whereas so-called election experts repeatedly warned pre-2020 about the pitfalls of electronic voting and widespread mail-in balloting, by November 2020 any discussion about the vulnerabilities of those methods was written off as the stuff of right-wing cranks and conspiracy-mongers.

Such dismissals required ignoring quite real problems with election integrity affecting hundreds of U.S. elections at the state and local levels, and even the 1960 presidential election, when John F. Kennedy won just 118,574 more votes than Richard Nixon. That Electoral College win hinged on victories in Illinois, where Chicago vote totals were suspiciously high for Kennedy, and Texas, a state where Kennedy’s running mate Lyndon B. Johnson had been known to exert control over election results. Official biographers and historians have claimed one or both states would have been won by Nixon in a fair election.14

If concerns about election integrity were valid from at least 1960 through 2016, then surely those concerns were even more valid in 2020, an election year unlike any other in American history.

In the lead-up to the election, thanks in part to the coronavirus pandemic that gripped the world, wide-ranging electoral reforms were implemented. Across the country at the state, local, and federal levels, political actors rammed through hundreds of structural changes to the manner and oversight of elections, resulting in what Time magazine would later call “a revolution in how people vote.”15 Some of these changes were enacted by state legislatures, some by courts, and others by state and county election officials. Many changes, allegedly justified by the global pandemic, were broad reforms that Democrats had long desired. The crisis was their chance to sneak in contentious policies through the back door.

The bedrock of the American republic is that elections must be free, fair, accurate, and trusted. Election lawyers will tell you that fraud is almost impossible to conclusively find after the fact, and that to fight it, strong rules and regulations are needed on the front end. That’s why Democrats and Republicans fight so bitterly about the rules and regulations that govern the process.

What happened during the 2020 election must be investigated and discussed, not in spite of media and political opposition to an open inquiry, but because of that opposition. The American people deserve to know what happened. They deserve answers, even if those answers are inconvenient. They deserve to know the effect flooding the system with tens of millions of mail-in ballots had on their vote. They deserve to know how and why Big Tech and the corporate political media manipulated the news to support certain political narratives while censoring stories they now admit were true. They deserve to know why courts were allowed to unilaterally rewrite the rules in the middle of the contest, often without the consent of the legislative bodies charged with writing election laws.

Republicans began to issue warnings about the new practices well before November 2020. They talked about how widespread changes in the manner the country conducts elections would create uncertainty, confusion, and delays.

They worried that widespread mail-in voting would lead to fraud. And they had good reason to worry. A 2005 bipartisan commission co-chaired by none other than Jimmy Carter found that absentee balloting was the largest source of potential fraud in American elections. Why should 2020 be any different?

They worried that universal mail-in balloting would make ballots harder to track, as some states bombarded addresses with ballots for previous residents who had moved out but hadn’t been struck from the voter rolls. What would happen to all the excess ballots?

They worried that lowering, or in some cases eliminating, standards for signature verification on mail-in ballots could make it impossible to challenge those fraudulently cast. In an election that promised to be contentious, lowering the standards seemed like a recipe for undermining public faith in the results. Why not leave signature verification as it was, or strengthen it?

They worried third-party ballot harvesting would encourage voter fraud. Some states had called for unsupervised drop boxes to replace or supplement ordinary polling stations. What would stop those boxes from being tampered with, or, worse still, from being filled with fraudulent votes by bad actors?

They worried ballot management in some areas was privately funded by corporate oligarchs overtly hostile to the Republican Party. Didn’t that give at least the appearance of impropriety? And they worried that failing to remove the deceased and those who moved out of state from voter rolls would cause worse problems in an election in which mail-in balloting would feature so prevalently.

Republicans also screamed bloody murder about the censorship by social media platforms of conservative voices and negative news stories about Democrats. They were horrified by a media complex that moved from extreme partisan bias to unabashed propaganda in defense of the Democratic Party. They watched as a completely legitimate story about international corruption involving the Biden family business—and implicating Joe Biden himself—was crushed by media and tech companies colluding to suppress it.

None of those problems went away after the election. If anything, the concern about them grew as tens of millions of Americans realized the problems associated with sloppy election procedure. It took days to get a handle on how many people had voted, much less how they had voted. And in an election of fine margins, the uncertainty surrounding basic questions of electoral procedure was reason to harbor doubts about the results.

Doubts only grew as citizens saw how difficult it was to maintain independent oversight of the counting process. Observers were often misled about whether counting had stopped for the evening. Some were kept so far away from the ballot counting that courts had to intervene.

As mail-in ballots came in and were accepted even when they were not properly filled out, Republicans saw the consequences of the mad rush to change the nation’s voting laws. And they saw how the media dismissed all concerns about how the election was run without a lick of investigation.

The powers that be did whatever it took to prevent Trump from winning his re-election bid in 2020. They admitted as much in a victory lap masquerading as a news article in Time magazine that referred to the individuals and institutions behind the efforts to oust Trump as a “well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information.”16

That’s to say nothing of the widespread privatization of election systems in key districts thanks to the efforts of leftist outlets funded by Mark Zuckerberg and other billionaires. Multi-million-dollar grants to public election commissions, and the strings attached to them, were the means by which the left’s sprawling voting activist arm took over huge parts of the 2020 election. These grants enabled the Democratic Party to run its get-out-the-vote operation through key cities and states. This private interference in the running of a national election had never before happened in the history of the country.

This book tells the story of how the political, media, and corporate establishments changed election laws and procedures, reduced or eliminated the oversight of ballots, manipulated the COVID-19 response, stoked violent racial unrest, published fake news, censored accurate news, and did everything in their power to make sure what had happened in 2016—a Trump election victory—could not happen again in 2020.

The media and other leftists learned a singular lesson from 2016: They could not let an outsider gain control of a system that so many political elites depend on ever again, democracy be damned. They were taking no chances. They would do whatever it took to make sure Trump lost.

Donald Trump certainly has a unique way of looking at the world, and a formidable personality. These traits are at once his biggest assets and the source of some of his biggest difficulties. Both have contributed to his most notable successes as well as his most notable failures. He is hardly blameless for his narrow defeat.

However, Trump’s flaws must be weighed against the disturbing nature of the opposition arrayed against him—an army of corporate-funded left-wing activists who excused and encouraged violent riots across the country; technology oligarchs who made unprecedented efforts to normalize censorship; state and local officials who radically altered the way Americans vote in the middle of an election for partisan advantage; an ostensibly free press that credulously and willfully published fake news to damage the president; politicized federal law enforcement agencies that abused the federal government’s surveillance and investigative powers to smear Trump as a puppet of a foreign power; and an opposition party that coordinated all these smears and spent years trying to impeach and remove a duly elected president from office.

Such extreme, and in some cases un-American, opposition explains why tens of millions of citizens believe that the election was conducted from the beginning in a manner that was unfair, riddled with integrity problems, and designed to make it difficult to catch fraud.

America’s smug political elites, of course, responded by mocking a small group of Americans that believe in darker and crazier conspiracies about what happened. It’s convenient to pretend that certain extreme beliefs are representative of all seventy-four million Trump voters, or even of just the tens of millions of Republican voters who are troubled about how the election was conducted.

But these same establishment figures never ask themselves how their own rank dishonesty contributed to an information climate that gaslights well-meaning voters—voters who are unwilling to abandon the cherished American ideals of equality and liberty to forces of social and economic control. In some respects, it would be much more comforting to believe a small cabal of people changed forty thousand votes and handed Biden the victory. That kind of corruption is much easier to root out and fix.

Those in control of America’s most powerful institutions—business, media, academia, bureaucracies, and even the FBI—are engaged in a permanent struggle against half the country to bring about radical social and political changes. Voters have the right to reject those projects and hold politicians who advance them accountable at the ballot box in free and fair elections.

This fight is about conducting elections in a manner that is trusted by both winners and losers. But it’s also about much more than that. It’s about ensuring that American citizens still have a voice in determining the future of their country.

If you believe things went terribly wrong in the 2020 election, well, you’re not crazy, and you’re not alone.

But most of all, you’re not wrong.

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