I hate mixing Ethics Alarms metaphors, but the developments in the 2020 Presidential Election Ethics Train Wreck made my head explode—what we call a “KABOOM!” in these parts—more than once.
1. To put first things first, I had to make a major revision in yesterday’s update. After a couple of readers reported that the number of ballots in Michigan showing only votes for President was almost a third fewer than J.D. Rucker had reported, I changed the post accordingly and added,
The numbers J.D. Rucker used in the sources for this post can no longer be verified. Now HIS alleged source is showing numbers that don’t support his argument. I can’t imagine that Rucker, who has some credibility and writes for various conservative publications, would make up statistics wholesale for a post about statistics. I can imagine the statistics being altered after he called attention to their suspicious nature, since there is such a concerted effort to discredit any claims that the voting totals may not be accurate, but there is no evidence of that. This is the whole problem. There are no reliable sources.
2. KABOOM! #1. A team of Google monitors captured evidence that between Monday, October 26, 2020, and Thursday, October 29, 2020, Google sent “be sure to vote” reminders to liberal users but did not do the same with conservative users. On Thursday, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) sent a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai demanding an explanation.
Do we need an explanation? Google has shown itself to be virtually principle-free and so biased that it’s a good thing it dumped its motto “Don’t Be Evil,” because the company risked being consumed like Sodom and Gomorrah. Robert Epstein, a psychologist, started an election monitoring project employing a politically-diverse group of 733 field agents in Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina. “Through their computers, we were able to preserve more than 400,000 ephemeral experiences that tech companies use to shift opinions and votes and that normally are lost forever,” Epstein explained in a letter to Senator Johnson.
“One of our most disturbing findings so far is that between Monday, October 26th (the day our system became fully operational) and Thursday, October 29th, only our liberal field agents received vote reminders on Google’s home page. Conservatives did not receive even a single vote reminder,” Epstein reported. “This kind of targeting, if present nationwide, could shift millions of votes, in part because Google’s home page is seen 500 million times a day in the U.S.”
3. KABOOM! #2. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnaney was explaining in a press briefing about the administration’s contentions regarding voter fraud when Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto cut off the network’s coverage, saying “Whoa, whoa, whoa. I just think we have to be very clear. She’s charging the other side as welcoming fraud and illegal voting. Unless she has more details to back that up, I can’t in good countenance continue to show you this.”
This is the worst kind of unethical journalism, and perhaps the worst example I have seen this year, which makes my head explode again just writing it. Think about all the unsubstantiated claims the networks allowed its audiences to hear when activist lawyer Ben Crump was claiming without evidence that a police shooting victim was “murdered” based on his race. Consider all of the now debunked “facts” Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Chuck Schumer and others proclaimed in front of cameras without a network shutting down coverage because an anchor couldn’t “countenance” unproven allegations. If the President’s press secretary goes in front of cameras and says the President now claims to be an aardvark, that’s still news, and the public has a right to hear it and make its own judgment.
This is significant and frightening. Fox News, for all its open biases and pandering hacks, has served a crucial role by often being the only news organization that would report stories the mainstream media was deliberately burying to further its partisan political agenda and assist its favorite politicians and political party. I have regarded Cavuto as one of the most trustworthy talking heads on Fox—after all, he interviewed me!—but there is no defense for what he did yesterday. Without Fox News, the complete control over what the public gets to hear and read, executed with the intent of undermining the President, is nearly locked down.
4. The President’s campaign filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania yesterday. A summary:
More suits will follow, and more investigations had better follow. If the Axis of Unethical Conduct really thinks it can run out the clock and get away with it, Democrats, the “resistance,” the mainstream news media and the social media platforms are even dumber than I thought.
5. Attorney General Bill Barr announced that the Justice Department has authorized “specific instances” of investigative steps in some cases, but he warned that “specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries.”
His memo is here.