The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
On any given day over the past five and a half years, there were multiple candidates to which the above quote might apply. Hypocritical Republican members of Congress who claim to be the guardians of law and order yet remained silent as the presidential equivalent of a VegaMatic sliced and diced the Constitution and the U.S. Code. Evangelicals who thump their Bibles but bury their heads in the sand for a leader who views the ten commandments and the gospel as optional. And of course voters who claim to despise everything Donald Trump did except for the one thing from which they personally benefit, be it tax cuts, deregulation, conservative judges or affirmation of their most base prejudices.
But today the target is the media, and local news outlets in particular. And to make the point, I am going to use examples from the two platforms in my home town, the twice-weekly paper Fernandina Beach News Leader and the on-line Fernandina Observer. I will start with excerpts from two “letters to the editor” in the News Leader. Ironically, the first appeared on Wednesday under the headline, “Corruption wins when good people do nothing.”
We may be fortunate in Florida to have a fairly solid election system, but our votes are diminished, diluted and canceled out by the fraudulent votes of dead people, noncitizens, mail-in ballots, Xeroxed ballots, electronic vote-switching and all sorts of other cheating in other states. (Jesse Duke)
Why isn’t Mr. Duke on Trump’s crack legal team? He seems to have evidence of a litany of fraud and election malfeasance unavailable to Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Lin Wood and Sydney Powell. And he makes fraud claims that the above legal “dream team” have made in front of a landscaping company, but as yet, have never voiced in court, knowing such hogwash could make them subject to charges of contempt, sanctions and even possible disbarment.
The second appeared in this morning’s Christmas edition under the headline, “Biden is an ‘illegitimate president’.”
I have never written to a newspaper, but after reading many comments indicating the recent presidential election was fair, I felt I needed to comment.
Much of the logic was that the courts generally rejected the lawsuits, thus it must have been a fair election. The courts rejected the lawsuits based on “procedure or technical,” issues not because there was lack of evidence. (Charles L. Warren)
Without going into detail, it is clear Mr. Warren is getting his information somewhere other than the attorney filings or court opinions. One need look no farther than judge Brett H. Ludwig of the U.S. District Court in Wisconsin, nominated in 2017 by none other than (drum roll) Donald J. Trump. Dismissing the case, Judge Ludwig was quite specific this was NOT due to a technicality, stating, “This court allowed the plaintiff the chance to make his case, and he has lost on the merits. In his reply brief, plaintiff ‘asks that the Rule of Law be followed.’ It has been.” In 55 other cases, state and federal judges delivered the same verdict.
Giving Mr. Warren the benefit of the doubt, he may be referring to the two cases that were considered by the Supreme Court. In the Pennsylvania case, the Court unanimously found the state supreme court and the U.S. circuit and appeals courts had made no errors in their consideration and dismissal of Trump’s claim. And in the case of Texas challenging outcomes in other states, even the two justices who felt the case should be heard–Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas–dissented only on the technicality of standing. In his dissenting opinion, Alito did not recommend any other judicial relief. One can only imagine Mr. Warren’s ire if the state of California had challenged Florida’s electoral process or the outcome in our state.
Which brings me to the comment by one Ben Martin in response to a story in the Fernandina Observer titled “Jobless Floridians could receive federal assistance by year’s end” by free lance writer John Haughey. Setting aside the need for Mr. Haughey to update his report based on Trump’s “indie video” blowing up COVID relief agreement, Mr. Martin felt the need to add, “Most Americans who will receive $600 in assistance should be more aware about “under the radar” provisions in this most recent stimulus bill.” He pointed to items “reportedly” (his word) including:
- $1.3 billion would go to Egypt, $700 million to Sudan and $500 million to Israel.
- An extension of a tax credit for racehorse owners
The Smithsonian, the National Art Gallery, and others will receive tremendous grants.
If Mr. Martin had done his homework, he would know the 5,500 page bill sent to the White House for signature combined the $900 billion COVID relief act and the budget resolution which authorizes the funding for the federal government for the remainder of this fiscal year. In other words, none of the items which seem to make Mr. Martin’s neck hairs stand on end are covered under the $900 billion dollars for stimulus checks, supplemental unemployment, personal protective equipment, vaccine distribution, etc.
So the question is, “Where could Mr. Martin have possibly obtained this incorrect information?” You guessed it. Donald J. Trump. In the Trump/Meadows production aired Tuesday night, Trump made the same mistake, referring to “$1.3 billion for Egypt” as part of the COVID Relief Bill. To make the same point Mr. Martin echoed, Trump complained, “Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists and special interests while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it.” (To demonstrate to Mr. Duke and Mr. Warren what evidence looks like, this statement appears at the 03:18 mark in the video.) What Trump did not tell Mr. Martin or anyone else was all of the items he criticized were recommended in his own FY2021 budget submitted to Congress on February 10, 2020. Oops!
But that’s not what I came here to talk about. Any expectations members of Cult 45 will pay attention to the facts before spouting their nonsense and bile have long since vanished into the ether. Nor do I expect the GOP “psychophants” who have excused the 25,000+ lies and misstatements to accept their role in this half-decade war on truth. However, I did hope the fourth estate might honor its tradition of holding all of us to a certain level of honesty.
And to some extent it has. Reporters and broadcast journalist have exposed numerous instances of deceit, corruption and illegal acts by this administration. Even in the “new frontier” of social media, we see the beginnings of a movement to separate opinion from fact. Facebook would have tagged any one of the above examples as contrary to the truth and pointed users to more reliable sources.
But not our two local news outlets. To their credit, the editors of both have published my factual/sourced responses to previous undocumented opinion pieces which promoted debunked conspiracy theories or lies. But this is not my, or any other reader’s responsibility. So, for the record, let me remind those responsible for the content in these communication platforms, 74 percent of your readership base voted for Donald Trump, and many still question the legitimacy of Biden’s victory. Fanning that flame over time raises the possibility of turning disappointment and anger into questionable actions.
If and when someone presents solid evidence that contradicts the courts, local election officials of both parties, and Trump’s own attorney general and director of the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (both since removed), feel free to let them share that information with your readers. Until then, you have a choice how you “monitor” the traffic on the virtual highways you provide for these “gullibles” to travel. You can either create checkpoints to ensure opinions are supported by facts not hearsay or rumor. Or you can continue to create “on-ramps” by which you increase the unregulated flow of misinformation and undocumented conspiracy theories until the traffic interspersed with speeders and lane jumpers becomes dangerous.
Or as Burke warns, you can do nothing and bet he is wrong about that evil triumphing thing. Is this a risk you are willing to take?
For what it’s worth.