The Washington Post sure can be selectively tough on elected officials.
The “Democracy Dies in Darkness” newspaper posed three simple questions recently to all 249 congressional Republicans. It asked:
– “Do you support or oppose Donald Trump’s continuing efforts to claim victory?”
– “If Joe Biden wins a majority in the Electoral College, will you accept him as the legitimately elected president of the United States?”
The results are about as depressing as one would expect. Only 27 Republicans say Biden won the election. Two Republicans say President Trump won. The remaining 220 GOP members of the House and Senate “will simply not say who won the election.”
Good on the Washington Post for holding elected officials accountable for this stolen election nonsense, but it is difficult to read the paper’s findings this week and not think of all the opportunities it missed over the past four years to ask congressional Democrats similar questions (if not the exact same questions).
The Washington Post could have asked, for example, the late John Lewis who won the 2016 election after the Georgia Democrat said that he did not see Trump, whose inauguration he boycotted, “as a legitimate president.”
The Washington Post could have asked Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler to expand on his thinking after the New York lawmaker said in 2017 that Russian interference “makes [Trump’s] election illegitimate.”
The Washington Post could have branched out, going much higher than congressional Democrats.
It could have asked, for example, then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden what he meant when he said in 2019, “Look, folks, I absolutely agree,” after a woman on the campaign trail alleged Trump is “an illegitimate president, in my mind … he’s illegitimate.”
The Washington Post could have even questioned the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee herself after she claimed last year that Trump “knows he’s an illegitimate president.”
The Washington Post asked none of these Democrats the questions it asked Republican lawmakers over the weekend. The Washington Post certainly did not see comments by Lewis, Biden, and Hillary Clinton as an opportunity to quiz congressional Democrats about the legitimacy of the 2016 election.
Instead, the Washington Post went in the opposite direction, focusing much of its post-2016 political coverage on Russian election interference, Trump’s alleged ties to Moscow, and basically every Red Scare story that came across staffers’ desks.
Instead of asking congressional Democrats who they believe won the 2016 election, the Washington Post reported falsely that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid.
Instead of asking congressional Democrats if they accept Trump as the legitimately elected president of the United States, the Washington Post obsessed over the details of the discredited Steele dossier, which alleges the Russians have compromising personal and financial information on the commander in chief. The dossier, by the way, is almost certainly the work of Russian propaganda.
Instead of asking Democrats who they believe won the election, the Washington Post was busy collecting awards for its coverage of the Russian collusion investigation, which ended with a dud when the special counsel announced it failed to establish evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians or that the president committed a prosecutable, obstruction-of-justice offense.
The Washington Post did not use House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s baseless allegation that the Russians are blackmailing Trump to serve their interests as an opportunity to ask congressional Democrats whether they think Trump is the legitimately elected president. The Washington Post had no three-part questionnaire for Democrats after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked in 2018, “What could possibly cause President Trump to put the interests of Russia over those of the United States?” The Washington Post had no questionnaire for Democrats after Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California claimed repeatedly to have knowledge of “direct” and “ample” evidence proving Trump’s campaign colluded with the Kremlin.
Of course, there is a significant difference between the Democratic Party’s Russia argle-bargle and the nonsense that Trump and his clown car team of attorneys are pushing now. But if we are talking about elected officials and party leaders undermining the legitimacy of presidential elections, we are arguing only a matter of degrees when it comes to what Democrats did post-2016 and what Trump is doing now.
Again, it is good that the Washington Post is holding Republicans’ feet to the fire as Trump’s allegations grow more deranged by the day. But where was this hard-hitting style of journalism when Democrats were running around alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally installed a puppet in the Oval Office?
Better late than never, I suppose.