‘They Have Not Legitimately Won’: Pro-Trump Media Keeps the Disinformation Flowing
Right-wing media organizations spreading former President Donald J. Trump’s distortions over the 2020 elections waived calls for healing or reflection and continued their conspiracy theories on large-scale fraud on Wednesday. Some predicted further political conflicts in the coming months.
The coverage took on an inconsistent tone, with pro-Trump media and President Biden in a harrowing split screen: the new president delivered an inaugural address of unity and hope while his political opponents used their powerful media platforms to oppose him to collect based on falsehoods and inventions.
For some branches like One America News, it was like Mr. Biden wasn’t a president at all. The network, which is a Mr. Trump favorite for its sycophantic reporting, did not show viewers either Mr. Biden’s swearing-in or his inaugural address.
Rush Limbaugh aired his weekday radio show a few miles from the Palm Beach Retreat, where Mr. Trump spends the first days of his post-presidency, and advised his millions of listeners on Wednesday that the inauguration of Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris did not to the rightful election winners.
“You haven’t legitimately won,” Limbaugh said, noting that he would be on “thin ice” to make such a claim. Then he gave his audience a wrong and inflated number of votes for Mr. Trump and predicted that the Democratic victories would be “fleeting”.
“I think they know that with 74 million, maybe 80 million people who didn’t vote for Joe Biden, there is no way they can honestly say they represent the power base in the country,” Limbaugh said.
On One America News, instead of the inauguration, viewers saw a long documentary segment called “Trump: Legacy of a Patriot”. One of the network’s commentators, Pearson Sharp, provided the voice-over and uttered only flattering words about the former president while making false claims about election fraud.
Mr Sharp reiterated many of the discredited excuses that have formed the alternate version of events Mr Trump and his supporters use to explain his loss. For example, the host claimed that Mr. Trump couldn’t be defeated because he won Bellwether State of Ohio and carried so many more counties than Mr. Biden. “Yet we are expected to see Joe Biden win more votes than any other president in history,” said Sharp.
Then he gave Trump supporters a collective call. “Now it is up to Americans to continue President Trump’s struggle, or any progress that we have made as a nation will quickly dissolve,” Sharp said.
OAN personalities also offered viewers an optimistic vision of a Republican Party that would live on in Mr. Trump’s image. The network’s White House correspondent Chanel Rion described Mr Trump’s farewell speeches from Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday morning as a “passing farewell”.
“The fight has only just begun,” she said.
An OAN anchor discussed the possibility that Mr. Trump could start his own political party and call it the Patriot Party, an idea that other Trump allies have circulated. The network talked about Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the former president, who challenged Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, when he stood for re-election in 2022.
At Newsmax TV, another pro-Trump channel, commentators and guests seemed less likely to be in denial than their competitors at OAN. But they rejected the new president no less. One questioned Mr Biden’s appointment of a transgender woman to his cabinet, describing the strong presence of troops in Washington to prevent another uprising by Trump supporters as an attempt to “further suppress the voice of the American people”.
A Newsmax host mocked the presence of Mr Biden’s son Hunter, whose personal problems and business interests distracted his father’s campaign after conservative media published unconfirmed stories about his work in China. “That won’t go away,” said the anchor.