A reader of our newsletter, to be identified for our purpose here merely as Carl, left us a phone message after reading Thursday’s story, “Maricopa County canvassing uncovers huge discrepancies.” This reader had called with firsthand knowledge of the same type of ballot “discrepancies” in Maricopa County that canvassers had found.
To set the scene for what he told us, we’d first like to call attention to an interview on Stephen Colbert’s late-night “comedy” show –- not so much what Colbert had to say (no surprises there) as what guest Chris Wallace contributed to the discussion. The interview was part of the promotion for Chris’ new book on 9/11, which I’m sure is a great read. To be clear, I bring attention to this not to single out Chris Wallace specifically, but rather to highlight the dismissal with which legitimate concerns about the election are typically received.
Let's start with how Colbert phrases his question: “I’m wondering whether you and your fellow Sunday morning guys out there who are doin’ the Sunday shows, talkin’ about the week, if you ever feel like you shouldn’t have on people who have the irrational belief that the last election...” (Pause for predictable applause from Colbert’s audience.) “...the people who are cynically –- and I know you’ve held these guys’ feet to the fire; I don’t want to suggest that you haven’t pushed back; you have, quite famously –- but have you ever seen anything so cynical in Washington, DC, than...people saying things they know aren’t true, uh, that they KNOW has to have lasting damage on our democracy, coming on TV and saying these things with a straight face?”
This is where Perry Mason would rise and say “Objection, leading the witness.” But leading questions ARE asked in court, at least whenever opposing counsel is asleep and they can be gotten away with, because they work. The same holds true in TV studios, and this one worked here, setting the tone for the whole exchange. If you have a strong stomach, hear it all at the link.
I debated whether or not to provide a full transcript of the conversation, since the video is available, but I think it’s instructive to see at least a part of it in print. So here’s a condensed version, starting where Chris answers the above question from Colbert:
“I have never seen this...I’ve been in Washington 40 years, so I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff [chuckle], but nothing like this, where --- and, you know, someone would say to me, ‘Well, are they delusional?’ No --- well, maybe some of them are --- but what’s worse, I think some of them have cynically decided, because of the Trump base, because they don’t want to get crosswise with the former President, they’re gonna say something they know is not true. Now, I don’t believe you’re just gonna sit there and say, ‘I’m not gonna have them on. But if I’m gonna have them on, I’m gonna hold them to account, over and over, about, you know, ‘what about, you know, this election, what about --- I’ve said this to many of them, ‘Is Joe Biden the duly-elected President of the United States, and they’ll say ‘Well, he’s the President,’ and I’ll say ‘No, no, was he elected fair and square?’ So, we go back on this, and I don’t let it pass...”
More: “There are plenty of people who were the leaders in the Congress who were challenging [the election] that I just have not had on the show ever since then, and have purposefully not had on the show, because I frankly don’t wanna hear their crap. But having said that, there are some leaders that you have to ask them questions. There are people in leadership and the Senate and I won’t let them come on without putting them through the wringer.”
Colbert interjects at this point, referring to such concerns as ‘garbage.” Wallace segues into January 6, “one of the worst days,” as he watched “this mob coming to the cathedral of our democracy.” “I was sickened,” he says, to applause. Colbert goes on to say that anyone who isn’t “wiling to stand up for that truth” –- I guess he means the “truth” that Biden was duly elected –- should be “DISQUALIFIED to be in the public sphere.” (!!!) He says that appearing on those Sunday shows is of value to such people because it helps them “promulgate that lie.”
“Does it worry you,” he asks Chris, “that you have given legitimacy to people who have abdicated all public responsibility?” (Again, where's Perry Mason when you need him?)
Chris responds that there are members of Congress who have been the leaders on that argument whom he just has deliberately not had on the show, “ever since then.” He says it was because he “frankly, didn’t want to hear their crap.” (This is followed by predictable audience cheers and applause.)
He goes on to say there are certain ones you have to have on, “but I won’t let ‘em come on without putting ‘em through the wringer.” That was pretty much the end of the interview, except for a book plug, and then on to the commercial break, which should have been for Pepto-Bismol.
So, Chris Wallace said he essentially gives his guests a litmus test, and it’s not enough for them to say, “Biden is the President.” It SHOULD be enough, but no –- the guest has to say that, yes, Biden was elected “fair and square,” even though it’s not known for sure that he was. We do not have definitive proof that the election was “stolen,” either, but after known problems with mass mail-in balloting in 2020, we have good reason to call for audits, and this does not make us “cynical,” "irrational" or “delusional.” It certainly does not mean that we "lie." Likewise, fact-based observations that there were problems with the last election that need to be fixed or that elections need to be more transparent are not “garbage” or “crap,” and to suggest this is offensive and insulting to millions of intelligent and informed people.
Such observations are not made to stay in good with “Trump’s base.” They are made because there are valid reasons for concern. Concerned Americans want to make sure we can TRUST the system, and maintaining that trust is PRO-democracy --- much more pro-democracy than pulling the curtain over the election and saying, “You have to talk about this in a certain way or you can’t participate in public life.”
Indeed, though I strongly and repeatedly condemned the breach of the Capitol Building, it's easy to understand why it happened. People were fed up because no one, not even the courts, would take their concerns seriously, saying that whatever the truth, the issue was "moot."
So, back to Carl. (Remember Carl?) Our commentary on Maricopa County sparked him to call and tell us about his niece, who moved from Maricopa County to Florida ten years ago. She found out something very interesting this year when a jury summons from Maricopa County was forwarded to her. She received this because they still had her on the Maricopa County voter rolls.
And the records showed her as having “voted” in the 2020 election.