Fox News presented a detailed and factual report on threats against election workers on Wednesday, but curiously omitted from the coverage was who precisely was making those threats.
“Election officials are now facing more death threats as we get closer to the midterm elections,” said America Reports anchor Sandra Smith to introduce senior correspondent Eric Shawn, “and security is also ramping up.”
Shawn said election officials across the country were taking measures that included “active shooter training” for poll workers and bulletproof glass for election offices, because of “an increase in violent threats against them.”
The “democratic process of voting in our country” was “really under siege,” according to these officials, said Shawn.
He mentioned a recent story that got national attention from Mesa, Arizona where police were called when “so-called voter integrity activists” were wearing masks and toting guns as they were “monitoring” a ballot drop box. Authorities had launched voter intimidation investigations into the matter.
“Election officials largely blame the threats on the spread of false election claims and lies about voting,” said Shawn. The FBI had warned officials in Pennsylvania about election threats, he added, and then quoted from a voicemail allegedly left by a man in Iowa who has been charged with making death threats.
Shawn also reported that the Department of Justice has formed a special election threats task force to protect election officials, recently convicting a Nebraska man who was “charged with threatening officials in the hotly contested state of Arizona,” earning him an 18-month prison sentence.
Never once mentioned during this segment: former President Donald J. Trump, who insists to this day that the 2020 election was stolen from him, who filed and lost more than 60 lawsuits around the country attempting to overturn the election results, whose baseless claims of election fraud incited the Jan. 6 rioters who attacked the Capitol, and who continues to give his influential endorsement to GOP primary candidates who support his baseless claims of election fraud and to vociferously attack any Republican who isn’t on board the Big Lie Train.
And that’s not even getting into the really bonkers claims Trump World has festered, such as China using internet-connected Nest thermostats to rig voting machines or the debunked silliness in the MyPillow guy’s “documentary” and Dinesh D’Souza’s 2000 Mules.
The Fox News reporting was, to be clear, factually accurate. But it is a very odd thing to hear that “false election claims and lies about voting” are the cause of the threats but then zero discussion of who was saying those false claims and lies and why. As I was re-watching the segment to write this article, it struck me as a very eloquently crafted report contorting itself into advanced yoga-like maneuvers in order to avoid mentioning the red-hat-wearing-elephant-in-the-room, Trump.
The glaring omission of the afternoon report was one thing; a few hours earlier, Faulkner Focus host Harris Faulkner took on the role of the Wizard of Oz, urging viewers to pay no attention to the election-denying former president behind the curtain.
Shawn had delivered a very similar report for the morning program, using phrases like “election officials say” the “sanctity” of our elections was “being violated by ugly threats,” including death threats, election officials’ families being harassed and threatened, home invasions, cars vandalized — all without identifying the source or cause of those threats.
After thanking Shawn for his reporting, Faulkner offered her two cents.
“I do think it’s important for people to know,” she said, “that we don’t know that much about these people making these threats and that we shouldn’t assume anything at all. Arizona is a toss-up state. Let’s — we’ll cover it as it happens. But I know people will jump to a conclusion, well, is it one side or the other? This is about violence, it’s not about politics.”
Arizona might be a “toss-up state,” but in 2020, Joe Biden narrowly won the state and its electoral votes, making the Grand Canyon State a key focus for the ire of Trump and his supporters’ claims of election fraud, despite multiple recounts and investigations confirming Biden’s victory. In other words, Arizona’s swing state status is precisely why its election officials have been targeted by Trump supporters — all the more so when Fox News called the state for Biden on Election Night, igniting a furious response from the then-president.
Are all claims of election fraud and stolen elections solely coming from the right side of the American political divide? Absolutely not; Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in particular has faced staunch criticism over her repeated claims about her previous contest against incumbent Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R).
But acting like the source of election threats in 2022 is a complete and utter mystery is a charade of truly ridiculous proportions.
Ever since it was clear that Biden had enough Electoral College votes to win the 2020 presidential election, Trump and his allies have ceaselessly pushed baseless claims of election fraud and that has motivated his supporters to harass and threaten election officials and poll workers, especially in those swing states that went for Biden.
I can’t say for sure why exactly Fox News reported on these election threats by taking such pains to avoid mentioning the actors behind the threats — Mediaite’s request for comment did not receive a response — but perhaps an explanation lies within the ongoing defamation litigation that accuses the network of amplifying some of those baseless claims of election fraud that drives people to make such threats.
Watch the video clips above, via Fox News.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.