Why the Wall Street Journal * never * should have published Donald Trump’s letter on the 2020 election

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“Well, in fact the election was rigged, which unfortunately you still haven’t figured out,” Trump wrote at the top of his op-ed, insisting – against the facts – that he actually won the ‘State of Pennsylvania.

Before we go any further, let’s take a look back at what happened in Pennsylvania in 2020.

And the proximity of that result has led Trump to make several attempts following the election to bring in the courts. A federal judge dismissed Trump’s trial in November 2020, writing: “One would expect that in seeking such a surprising result, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual evidence of corruption. endemic. It didn’t happen. ”Around the same time, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected an attempt by Trump’s campaign to stop the counting of certain mail-in ballots in some areas, including Philadelphia.
On November 24, Pennsylvania certified the results in the state after the 67 counties certified their results individually.

There just isn’t there. Nothing. Zero. Nothing.

What, of course, the Wall Street Journal and its editors know. (Box: Trump’s letter was posted in the “Opinions” section, which is separate from the post’s end of news and reports.) And that knowledge makes what they’ve done even worse.

The Journal’s editorial section will likely hide behind First Amendment free speech arguments in defense. But that misses the mark, since our speech is already linked in all kinds of ways. You cannot shout “bomb” in an airplane without repercussions. Or “fire” in a movie theater. (Remember when we went to the movies? Yeah, that was fun.)

With that same logic, you can’t just allow lies about the 2020 election to be printed in a major national newspaper under the guise of free speech. There is absolutely no evidence that what Trump wrote in the letter is true. (He appears to have concocted much of it from a group known as Audit the Vote PA, which touts a number of debunked theories about vote tallying in Pennsylvania.) And giving Trump a place so important, you lend some credibility to what we know are wild and devoid of facts conspiracy theories.

So why did the Journal do it?

Well, their opinion section has long been quite conservative. And a letter from the former President of the United States is not the easiest thing in the world to say ‘no’ to. Additionally, the letter was sure to be a massive traffic engine for the Journal’s website; it is currently the third most popular opinion piece on the site and spent much of the first few hours after its publication in the # 1 spot.

The newspaper’s editorial board on Thursday published an article on its ruling titled “The Facts About Trump’s Cheating Letter,” which notes that “we think it’s news when a former president who may run in 2024 wrote down what he did, even if (or maybe especially if) his claims are bananas. ”
“Mr. Trump is making these claims elsewhere, so we have done him no favors by letting him respond to our editorial,” the board continued. “We offer the same courtesy to others we criticize, even when they make claims that we believe are false.”

None of these reasons, however, are good enough to warrant the publication of a letter filled with lies from Trump, a letter that will continue to foment the mistaken belief among his staunch supporters that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Especially since we saw on January 6th what all these lies can create.

This story has been updated with comments from the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board.


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