While editing our cover story on the election-deniers running in this year’s midterms, I kept thinking of the Bill Parcells quote, “You are what your record says you are.” Out of 62 lawsuits filed by former President Donald Trump and his allies in their baseless efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, all but one failed. Out of more than 25 million votes cast in the six battleground states Trump focused on, fewer than 475 potential instances of voter fraud were found – a rate of .000019%.
So what the record shows is that the election was fair, it was secure, and that the efforts to not just overthrow it but to disenfranchise American voters – including millions of Pennsylvanians – had no basis in reality or democracy.
That these facts, which are indisputable, continue to be ignored by so many political candidates has caused a reckoning among our staff, as it has in so many newsrooms across the country. Our mandate is to provide nonpartisan coverage of political Pennsylvania. Early on, it was drilled into us that we need to present both sides of a story – and to do that by making sure to give equal time to opposing views. We were also taught to avoid using words like “lie,” “lying,” “liar” and the like.
For us to do our job now requires disregarding those precepts as relics of a bygone era. There is no way to provide coverage of any election-denying Republican running for office this cycle without spotlighting their commitment to “The Big Lie” that the election was stolen – and all that that commitment signifies. These people have access to the same information we do (and, in the case of congressional incumbents, even better information), so that means that they believe in one, some or all of the following:
• To acknowledge the election was fair would be career suicide
• Despite the ever-rising mountain of evidence to the contrary, the election was stolen
• It is fine to disenfranchise Pennsylvanians to win an election
• The havoc being wreaked upon voter confidence by parroting “The Big Lie” is acceptable collateral damage
I have no doubt that reporting on these facts and their deniers will cause blowback, but this was an easy choice to make: Like so many others, I took on this career in no small part because of a desire to speak truth to power. Not calling out those who would trample on democracy, whether out of willful ignorance or craven calculation, would be journalistic malpractice. The truths contained in this issue may be uncomfortable, but they are necessary – the very lifeblood needed to keep the heart of democracy beating.
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