Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! – Proverbs 14:15a
The longer I live, the more I appreciate the genius of British author George Orwell, who penned 1984 and Animal Farm. If you have not read those yet, let me encourage you to do so… Fast.
Many have pointed out how prophetic Orwell was, writing in the 1940’s yet seemingly predicting our world of today. Many point out 1984 coming true in our lifetimes: telescreens, thought police, doublethink, Big Brother, and much more.
Yet Animal Farm is a goldmine today as well. The book was a spoof of the Russian Communist Revolution, where the animals drove away Farmer Jones to set up their own self-ruled “utopia,” only to have the pigs eventually take over and be meaner than Jones ever was.
“Squealer” was the pig with a gift with words: he used big, fancy vocabulary to confuse the rest of the animals so the pigs could cement their total control over the farm. (I’ve thought about creating and giving a “Squealer Award” to some folks I’ve seen on social media, who have a special knack for twisting words and misleading people, but I digress….)
The only animal on the farm who did not get very excited about much of anything was Benjamin the donkey. When asked about his lack of enthusiasm, he would only reply cryptically, “Donkeys live a long time.” As the Bible says, “There is nothing new under the sun,” and likewise Benjamin had lived so long, he thought he had “seen it all” and there was nothing to get thrilled about.
Benjamin came to mind and I could somewhat see myself in his role this past Saturday, Nov. 7.
It was a beautiful, warm day in Virginia and I was preparing to get outside for some mid-day fresh air and sunshine when this text from a concerned millennial hit my cell phone:
So it’s not over? Even tho AP called it?
That millennial was asking about the Associated Press (AP) and many other major news outlets “calling” Pennsylvania for Biden Saturday, claiming that put him above the 270 Electoral Vote bar and thus making him winner of the 2020 presidential election.
Being blessed to have “lived a while” already, I had a flashback from exactly 20 years ago. I told that young adult about my distinct memory from November 7, 2000. My wife and I had stayed up to watch the election results come in for the Al Gore (D) vs. George W. Bush (R) race. Results rolled in state by state, when presto! The news anchors and commentators all gushed: It’s over! Al Gore has won the election! The screen held a huge graphic, “Al Gore elected 43rd President,” while it showed his exulting fans cheering deliriously with joy.
Note: the news coverage was NOT “We predict Al Gore has won,” or “These returns indicate Al Gore will be our next president,” etc. No. The message was simple: The votes are in; Gore won; it’s over.
The next morning I awoke to our clock radio alarm, and in the early morning fuzzy-mindedness from just awaking, I heard news commentators yammering about “Bush demands a recount,” “Florida too close to call,” etc.
For 37 agonizing days, the country and actually the world watched on the sidelines as officials in Florida counted and recounted votes, looked for “hanging chads,” tried to interpret unclear ballots, etc.
Why did Benjamin come to mind last Saturday?
I have lived long enough to see the news “call” a presidential election, to later backtrack, and finally with egg on their face, admit the “loser” was the “winner” and vice versa.
Let me be clear: I do NOT know who won the election last Tuesday, or what the final outcome will be, but I write this column because we DO know the media can “get it wrong.”
A few nuggets:
- Real Clear Politics (RCP) is a highly-respected, non-partisan organization that works with polling and surveys. They focus on hard numbers and data, not opinions and hype. Just hours ago, they reclassified Pennsylvania from “Biden” to “undecided,” putting Biden at 259 electoral votes and removing his “president-elect” status, at least on their page.
- Shortly after polls closed in Arizona, Fox (allegedly a “right-wing” channel) and AP “called” the Grand Canyon State for Biden. However, as of Nov. 10, RCP still has Arizona as “undecided.” Pray tell, if AZ is still razor-thin ONE WEEK after the election, how did anyone have the GALL to “call” it right after polls closed?
- On election day the New York Times tweeted: “The role of declaring the winner of a presidential election in the U.S. falls to the news media. The broadcast networks and cable news outlets have vowed to be prudent.” That is WRONG. The news media can cover news, report vote tallies, etc, but they do NOT “declare a winner.” Thanks to our written constitution, we do have an answer to that:
- The US Constitution, Article II, Section 1, states: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.”
- Simply put, state legislatures appoint electors to vote in the Electoral College to choose our next president; it is not the media’s job. As one wise guy quipped, “I’ve been looking through the Constitution to find the part that says CNN picks the president.”
As I tried to explain to that millennial and several others, the media can report the news, and they certainly try to influence the news, but they do not have the power to determine election winners and losers. For example, the news can “call” that “Martinsville will be 65 degrees and cloudy next Tuesday,” but they cannot MAKE Martinsville be 65 degrees and cloudy.
I believe the media is trying to cement the narrative, portraying Joseph Robinette Biden as president-elect, it’s a done deal, inevitable. But with many charges of voter fraud and chicanery, let the legal process take its course.
Al Gore himself used to love to say, “Don’t rush to judgment.”
He was right about that 20 years ago and he may be right again.
– Scott Dreyer