Donald Trump has taken to the airwaves to declare that he still believes the election was stolen.
I don’t know why anyone should be the slightest bit surprised.
Despite the riot at the Capitol, which led to Trump’s second impeachment, the former president has never implied or suggested any softening on his unproven allegations of widespread election fraud. In his view, he should still be living in the White House, not Mar-a-Lago, and Joe Biden should be back in Delaware.
If all the failed lawsuits, and the lack of evidence from his own Justice Department, didn’t change his mind, and the Jan. 6 violence didn’t change his mind, it’s a safe bet that Trump will stick to this position forever.
He broke his post-election silence on Wednesday after the death of Rush Limbaugh. Trump called into Fox News to pay tribute to the radio titan and brought up the election results.
Limbaugh thought “we won and so do I. By the way, I think we won by a substantially… I don’t think that could have happened to a Democrat. You would have had riots going all over the place if that happened to a Democrat,” Trump said.
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Anchor John Roberts said he had 100 questions he wanted to ask but that moment–with Trump praising a man whose death had just been announced–was not the right venue. That evening, Trump also called into Sean Hannity’s show, which was just about Rush, and to Newsmax and OAN for more wide-ranging interviews.
The former president told Newsmax that “we did win the election, as far as I’m concerned. It was disgraceful what happened, totally disgraceful.”
Some left-leaning commentators are decrying these phoners, saying Trump shouldn’t be allowed on the air to continue his “big lie” about the election. This, they say, could encourage more violence among his extreme supporters.
Essentially they’re saying the networks should act like Twitter and suppress what a former president has to say.
Talking about Limbaugh’s death is one thing. When Trump is claiming the election is rigged, anchors have a responsibility at the very least to ask skeptical questions and press him on his role in the horrible assault on the Capitol.
In light of my reporting this week on Trump being relieved over no longer having to tweet, and some advisers convinced it tightens his message, his comments to Newsmax are revealing. He said he’s not coming back, and might even start his own social media site.
“We were being really harassed on Twitter; they were putting up all sorts of flags,” Trump said. “Everything I was saying was being flagged, it’s disgraceful.”
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Without him, says the man who had 88 million followers, he understands Twitter has become “very boring.”
Donald Trump doesn’t need cable channels or social media to generate news. He can make speeches or put out statements, as he did during impeachment and in slamming Mitch McConnell. If he engages with journalists and makes false claims about the election, he should be called on it. But Trump no longer needs to talk to the media directly.