Fox News versus MSNBC: Two tales of the post-election mop-up

Cable news outlets have different takes on the election.

(CN) — Fox News host Sean Hannity kicked off his Wednesday evening broadcast hedging against Donald Trump’s potential defeat in Tuesday’s presidential election with a rant about suspected election interference on the part of Democrats.

He cited a list of grievances running the gamut from ballots being sent to deceased persons, to extra ballots sent to voters’ old addresses, to possible ballot stuffing in Wisconsin — all anecdotal and/or unsubstantiated.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow questioned whether Trump will add to his list of lawsuits and demands over what he has also said — repeatedly and without substantiation — is voter fraud, but assured viewers the vote count will continue no matter what. She spent much of the rest of the broadcast detailing the current vote tallies across the country.

Election malfeasance

Hannity told viewers he wants a free and fair election where every American can cast their ballot, which aside from some notable voter suppression efforts in various precincts, and an understandable delay in counting votes, would appear to be exactly what occurred.

“What we’re watching, you couldn’t think of a worse system, a more corrupt system,” said Hannity, who has apparently never watched a Russian presidential election unfold.

Hannity is pushing hard for voter ID laws, neglecting the fact that many eligible American voters lack a driver’s license either because they can’t afford or don’t need a car, or an ID. It’s not hard to understand why someone wouldn’t want to wait in line at the DMV before every presidential election, which would effectively reduce voter turnout among the lower income individuals — people Hannity believes are likely Democratic voters.

Vote tallies

Maddow turned to MSNBC journalist Steve Kornacki, who broke down the ongoing vote tallies coming from yet-to-be-decided states. Kornacki said Trump needs 60% of the remaining votes to cinch Arizona, of which he’s currently pulling about 59%, so they agreed the state is very nearly verging on a tie if the trend continues. Maddow questioned whether Trump will sue Arizona next to stop any more votes from being counted, which wouldn’t make a lot of sense for him to do given the current numbers would hand the state to Biden.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar advised calm and patience, forecasting that “Joe Biden has every reason to believe he’s going to win this.”

Discussing another key battleground state, Maddow asked Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro about a recent revelation that the U.S. Department of Justice had instructed states to allow armed federal officers into vote-counting locations to monitor for potential fraud.

“We were preparing for months to ensure that we would protect, secure and count every vote here in Pennsylvania. That’s exactly what we’ve done, and I want to assure you that nothing will stop the counting of these legal ballots here in Pennsylvania,” he said.

Polling and the deep state

Hannity hits the nail on the head about one thing: pre-election polling. The polls in the last two elections were atrocious, which predicted a virtual landslide for both Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020. Neither came close to fruition.

Rather than faulty math and a bad methodology, perhaps brought on by wishful thinking, Hannity believes the “deep state”, the media, pollsters, Nate Silver and the big tech companies have all been working in cahoots to harm the president’s chance of reelection.

“Are you concerned that the deep state is celebrating tonight because they got off the hook if Joe Biden wins. Do you think this was a free, fair and honest election and do you believe this is the best that America is capable of? Do you trust the outcome of this election? Do you think the system is corrupt?” Hannity asked in a thinly veiled attempt to sow doubt about the election results.

Strangely, he believes Silicon Valley holds the key, and said companies like Apple and Microsoft could do a better job. This reporter wholeheartedly agrees, but it’s a forgone conclusion that he would backtrack that the first time Republicans lost an election tallied by iVote (which prominent GOP strategist Karl Rove promptly pointed out.)

Lawsuits

Hannity brought out Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarret to talk about the various legal actions being put forward by the Trump campaign. Both decried the decision in Michigan to keep poll monitors 100 feet from counters, correctly noting that at that distance you can’t see the ballot, the signature, the vote or the postmark, which entirely negates their purpose.

Jarrett called the lawsuits filed by the Trump team in Georgia and Pennsylvania “deeply troubling,” and said Pennsylvania’s Democrat-run supreme court “invented out of thin air” its own law to give Biden an advantage. Jarret seemed particularly frustrated with U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts for siding with the Democrats and allowing those ballots to be counted.

Meanwhile MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent Ari Melber astutely pointed out that “candidates who are winning don’t sue to change the results.” Melber called the complaints over election observers not receiving adequate access weak but said Trump has a stronger claim in Pennsylvania, where the election rules were changed outside the proper channels at the last minute.

Maddow observed that many lawyers consider it a point of prestige to be involved in any sort of legal fight involving a presidential campaign — it is a great opportunity for free advertising, after all. She said an attorney working for MSNBC looked at the legal complaints filed by Trump’s team and described them as “something written by an elementary school student.” She questioned whether Trump is so confident in his abundance of judicial appointees that the quality and merits of the suits his team files aren’t particularly important.

The president’s end goal seems to be pushing his complaints up to the Supreme Court where right-leaning justices make up the majority.

“No matter what they do, I think they are forever tainted by the notion that Donald Trump, who picked three of them, believes they are sitting there waiting until one of these ludicrous lawsuits makes its way to them,” said MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace.