Thursday, November 5, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He seemed to realize what was happening.

Trump's only public appearance today was a brief White House address. In it, he declared that he had won the election, if you ignored "illegal votes." He claimed that votes were being cast after the election had ended. (They are not.) Trump alluded to shadowy conspiracies, cooked up fictitious scenarios where Republicans were barred from observing the count, and once again declared that mailed ballots—a huge percentage of the total vote this year, due to the pandemic—were somehow fraudulent.

Even by Trump's standards, it was spectacularly full of false claims, misleading framings, and outright lies.

In short, it was Trump's most aggressive attack yet on the democracy that elected him and that he is sworn to defend. Most news networks immediately cut away from live coverage when it became clear that what he was saying amounted to disinformation. Even the coverage on Fox News, normally a sort of safe space for Trump—he's spent hours in unsolicited call-in interviews to the network lately—treated his remarks with a sort of stunned disbelief.

And, as Fox News noted on their website, even Republicans who normally support Trump went out of their way to condemn him

Trump is reportedly despondent over the increasing likelihood that he will lose the election. It showed in his brief appearance today, which for all its anger was also "low energy." He has good reason: without the shield the presidency provides, he is likely to face criminal prosecution and a serious financial crunch as billions of dollars in personally guaranteed loans come due.

Why should I care about this?

  • Even if people have largely stopped listening to him, it's bad when a sitting president tries to undermine Americans' faith in democracy.