The ruling class did everything in their power to make sure what happened in 2016 — a Donald Trump election victory — would never happen again in 2020.
By Mollie Hemingway
If questioning the results of a presidential election were a crime, as many have asserted in the wake of the controversial 2020 election and its aftermath, nearly the entire Democratic Party and media establishment would have been incarcerated for their rhetoric following the 2016 election. In fact, the last time they accepted the legitimacy of a presidential election they lost was in 1988.
After the 2000 election, which hinged on the results of a recount in Florida, Democrats smeared President George W. Bush as “selected, not elected.” When Bush won re-election against then-Sen. John Kerry in 2004, many on the left claimed that voting machines in Ohio had been rigged to deliver fraudulent votes to Bush. HBO even produced and aired “Hacking Democracy,” a documentary that added fuel to the conspiracy theory fire of conversations about the 2004 results. But nothing holds a candle to what happened in 2016 after Donald Trump’s surprising defeat of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Rather than accept that Trump won and Clinton lost, the political and media establishments desperately sought to explain away Trump’s victory. What they settled on was a destructive conspiracy theory that crippled the government, empowered America’s adversaries, and illegally targeted innocent private citizens whose only crime was not supporting Hillary Clinton.
With baseless claims of hacked voting totals, illegal voter suppression, and extensive media manipulation, the Russian collusion hoax had it all. But more than anything, the belief that Trump stole the 2016 election had the support of the most powerful institutions, individuals, and even government agencies in the country.
“You can run the best campaign, you can even become the nominee, and you can have the election stolen from you,” Clinton told her followers in 2019.
“I know he’s an illegitimate president,” Clinton claimed of Trump a few months later. She even claimed during an interview with “CBS Sunday Morning” that “voter suppression and voter purging and hacking” were why she lost.
Former President Jimmy Carter agreed.
“[Trump] lost the election and was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf,” he told NPR in 2019. “Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016.”
Their view was widely shared by most prominent Democrats in Congress. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, for example, said he was skipping Trump’s inauguration in 2016 because he believed Trump was illegitimate, and that “the Russians participated in helping this man get elected.” Lewis also skipped the inauguration of President George W. Bush, claiming that Bush, too, was an illegitimate president.
A few members of Congress joined him in 2001. In 2017, one out of every three Democrats in the U.S. House boycotted Trump’s inauguration. Many said they refused to take part in the installation of an illegitimate president.
Not only did corporate media not condemn leading Democrats’ refusal to accept the results of the 2016 election, the media were also super spreaders of wild conspiracy theories about how Trump and Russia colluded to steal the election from Clinton. They dutifully regurgitated false leaks from corrupt intelligence officials suggesting that Trump and his staff had committed treason. They ran stories suggesting that Republicans who didn’t support their conspiracy theory were insufficiently loyal to the country.
Some even suggested Russia may have hacked voting machines and vote totals in a bid to steal the election from Clinton. It was all nonsense. Even Robert Mueller, who ran a multi-year and multi-million-dollar government investigation into claims that Trump personally colluded with Russian President Vladimir Putin to steal the election from Clinton, found there was no evidence to support the claim.
Rather than being shunned by their peers for peddling leaks and lies that had no basis in reality, the reporters who pushed this conspiracy theory were lauded by their peers, received raises and promotions, and were given Pulitzers for “reporting” that turned out to be detached from reality.
From 2016 through 2020, the easiest way to achieve stardom on the political left was to loudly proclaim your belief that 2016 was an illegitimate election stolen by the Russians on behalf of a corrupt traitor. Dissent, up to and including the assertion that the President of the United States was a secret Russian spy, was the highest form of patriotism.
And then 2020 happened.
With the snap of their fingers, America’s electoral system went from irredeemably corrupt and broken in 2016 to unquestionably safe in 2020. Voting methods that were allegedly used to steal elections in 2004 and 2016 suddenly became sacrosanct and impenetrable in 2020. Whereas so-called election experts repeatedly warned pre-2020 about the pitfalls of electronic voting and widespread mail-in balloting, by November of 2020, any discussion about the vulnerabilities of those methods was declared to be verboten.
If, as I believe, concerns about election integrity were valid in 2000, and 2004, and 2008, and 2012, and 2016, then surely those concerns were even more valid in 2020, an election unlike any other in American history due to the COVID-19 pandemic that gripped the world and radically altered America’s electoral system.
Across the country at the state, local, and federal level, hundreds of significant structural changes to the manner and oversight of elections were instituted, resulting in what Time Magazine called a “a revolution in how people vote.” Some of these changes were enacted by state legislatures, some by courts, and others by county and state election officials. Many changes were allegedly justified by the global pandemic, although Democrats had long advocated for them and now seek to make them permanent.
The bedrock of the American republic is that elections must be free, fair, accurate, and trusted. Election lawyers will tell you that fraud is almost impossible to conclusively find after the fact, and that to fight it, strong rules and regulations are needed on the front end. That’s why Democrats and Republicans fight so bitterly about the rules and regulations that govern the process.
What happened during the 2020 election deserves to be investigated and discussed. It must be investigated and discussed, not in spite of media and political opposition to it, but because of that opposition. That is why I am writing a book about what happened before, during, and after the 2020 presidential election.
The American people deserve to know what happened. They deserve answers, even if those answers are inconvenient. They deserve to know the effect of flooding the system with tens of millions of mail-in ballots. They deserve to know how and why Big Tech and corporate political media manipulated the news to support certain political narratives while outright censoring stories they now admit were true.
The American people deserve to know why courts, without the consent of the accountable legislative bodies charged with writing election laws, were allowed to unilaterally rewrite the rules in the middle of the game. Voters deserve to know why so many in government so vociferously fought to avoid audits and recounts and hide the vote-counting process from the public.
Republicans began sounding the alarm about how difficult it might be to trust the outcome of the 2020 elections long before November. They talked about how widespread changes in the manner the country conducts elections would lead to uncertainty, confusion, and delays. They were worried about universal mail-in balloting, which led to some addresses getting a half dozen ballots for previous residents who had once registered to vote at the address.
They knew that a bipartisan commission co-chaired by Jimmy Carter himself found that absentee balloting was the largest source of potential fraud in United States elections. They were worried about how lowering, or in some cases outright eliminating, standards for signature verification on mail-in ballots could make it impossible to challenge fraudulently cast ballots.
They were worried about unsupervised drop boxes that enabled third-party ballot harvesting becoming vectors for voter fraud. They worried about how ballot management in some areas was privately funded by corporate oligarchs who are overtly hostile to the Republican Party. They continued their complaints about how lack of updates to voter rolls would cause worse problems in an election based on mail-in balloting.
Republicans also screamed bloody murder about tech censorship of conservative voices and news stories about Democrats that the public had a right to know. They were horrified by a media complex that moved from extreme partisan bias to unabashed propaganda in defense of their preferred political party. They watched as a completely legitimate story about international corruption involving the Biden family business — and implicating Joe Biden himself — was crushed by media and tech companies colluding to suppress it.
None of those problems went away after the election. If anything, the concern grew as tens of millions more Americans saw the problems associated with sloppy elections in which it takes days to find out just how many people voted, much less how they voted.
They saw how difficult it was to maintain independent oversight of the counting process, whether in Atlanta, where observers were told that counting had stopped for the night but hadn’t, or in Philadelphia, where observers were kept so far away from the ballot counting that a court had to intervene. They began to see the significance of the mad rush to change voting laws, sometimes surreptitiously or otherwise outside the purview of the state legislatures. And they saw how the media didn’t even bother investigating before dismissing all concerns about how the election was run.
The fact of the matter is that the elite powers did whatever it took to make sure that Trump lost re-election in 2020. They admitted as much in a victory lap masquerading as a news article in Time Magazine that referred to the individuals and institutions behind the efforts to oust Trump as a “well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information.”
The story of how these institutions worked to rig the 2020 results needs to be told, and I plan to tell it. My book, entitled “Rigged: How The Media, Big Tech, And Democrats Seized Our Elections,” tells the story of how the political, media, and corporate establishments changed election laws and procedures, reduced or eliminated oversight of ballots, manipulated the COVID-19 response, stoked the violent racial unrest, published fake news, censored accurate news, and did everything in their power to make sure what happened in 2016 — a Trump election victory — would never happen again in 2020.
The book will include interviews from lawyers, campaign activists, and election officials who were on the ground in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, and other swing states. It will include discussions with elected lawmakers from across the country, including senators and members of Congress, about the importance of election integrity.
My book will contain never-before-told eyewitness stories about what really went down in 2020, not just in the presidential race, but in tight House and Senate races as well. The book will contain analysis of how media and Big Tech oligarchs used their power to control information on the Internet to manipulate people’s behavior before and after the 2020 election. My book will contain not just interviews about the election with top officials from the Trump White House and presidential campaign, but also interviews with Trump himself.
It will give a behind-the-scenes look at election night at the White House, and at pivotal moments in the campaign, such as the planning and execution of the surprisingly successful Republican National Convention. It will answer which of the many fake news stories published about Trump bothered him the most, how the Democrats caught Republicans flat-footed on mail-in balloting, what the Trump administration’s biggest COVID mistake was, and who the Trump campaign thought was Biden’s best media representative. (Hint: It’s not who you think.) And it will show what went wrong during the electoral challenges in battleground states, and who was responsible for them.
“Rigged: How The Media, Big Tech, And Democrats Seized Our Elections” will be published by Regnery Publishing and is available for pre-order now. I have no doubt that the same powers that worked to oust Trump in 2020 will do everything they can to suppress this book in 2021, but I don’t care. The story has to be told.
Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. She is Senior Journalism Fellow at Hillsdale College and a Fox News contributor. She is the co-author of Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court.