CNN’s Jim Acosta on Trump Claiming Victory: “The Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves”

From a Washington Post story by media reporter Paul Farhi headlined “After a night of red and blue mirages, TV anchors and pundits push back on Trump’s false claim of election victory”:

On an election night that ended in uncertainty, the only thing TV anchors and pundits seemed to know for sure was that President Trump was wrong, very wrong, in declaring that he had won.

“What President Trump just said is undemocratic and false and premature,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper said moments after Trump falsely claimed victory in states where ballots were still being tallied and said that further counting constituted “a fraud on the American people.”. . .

MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace had a similar framing. “This is straight-up authoritarian malarkey,” she told viewers, echoing one of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s go-to sayings. “This is an extremely flammable situation and the president just threw a match into it. He hasn’t won these states.”

CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell, usually cautious in rendering opinions, said Trump was “castrating the facts.” CNN’s White House reporter Jim Acosta said “the Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves” over an American president “delegitimizing” the results of an election.

Speaking from the White House at 2:30 a.m., Trump also threatened to take his case to the Supreme Court, which elicited a succinct banner on CNN: “Trump says he’ll go to Supreme Court; unclear why.”. . .

Election night predictions by networks have always been an exercise in understanding where the votes are coming from in a state, whether from populous cities (that tend to go Democratic) or sparsely populated rural counties (which have tended to vote Republican in recent elections). The pandemic added a new complication to counting votes in 2020: how voters voted, whether by mail (predominantly Democratic) or in person (more probably Republicans).

Knowing which was which was critical to understanding how the race was unfolding as states reported their vote totals, bit by bit, and TV anchors reported what the states were telling them. But some anchors struggled to make clear throughout the course of the night which kind of votes were coming in and how they affected the total. . . .

MSNBC anchor Brian Williams sounded the evening’s theme just after 1 a.m. Wednesday when the network called Texas for Trump: “It turns out that Democrats — maybe some of them spotted a blue mirage in some of the early numbers and hope overcame facts in this case,” he said.

Trump ignored that lesson an hour or so later by making good on a report over the weekend that he would declare victory even if large numbers of uncounted votes remained in a few key states.

Amid the shocked and outraged reactions of other hosts and commentators to Trump’s White House declaration in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow seemed mildly amused. “I’m glad he told us in advance that he was going to do this, so that we would be less bowled over and more willing to laugh at it,” she said.

Paul Farhi is The Washington Post’s media reporter. He started at The Post in 1988 and has been a financial reporter, a political reporter and a Style reporter.

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