The newspaper tweeted Tuesday afternoon that “the role of declaring the winner of a presidential election in the US falls to the news media. The broadcast networks and cable news outlets have vowed to be prudent.” It then linked to an article about media election coverage.
This inaccurate tweet has now been deleted. pic.twitter.com/7MWMDNzakD
— Public Citizen EVERY LAST VOTE MUST BE COUNTED (@Public_Citizen) November 3, 2020
The tweet was later deleted, after being ratioed with disproportionately negative responses. “This is fascism,” said conservative author Mike Cernovich. Podcast host Graham Allen tweeted, “Who elected the NYT?” Conservative author Brittany Sellner was more pointed: “The media can screw off.”
Who elected the NYT????
— Graham Allen (@GrahamAllen_1) November 3, 2020
The Times later deleted the tweet, saying it “referred imprecisely to the role of the news media in the US presidential election. The news media projects winners and reports results. It does not declare the winner of an election.”
Tensions over a potential media role in declaring a candidate’s victory are even higher than usual in an election year when a surge in mail-in voting threatens to delay the tabulation of results. Axios reported earlier Tuesday that Democrat Joe Biden plans to assert himself as president-elect – addressing the nation as the victor and beginning to fill jobs in his administration — if media outlets declare him the winner, regardless of any dispute or doubts over the outcome.
Media outlets have called some elections incorrectly, most infamously when the Chicago Tribune declared in a huge 1948 headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman.” By the New York Times’ measure, Republican Thomas Dewey perhaps should have given a victory speech that election night and begin his transition work.
More recently, NBC News reported that Democrat Al Gore had won the pivotal state of Florida in 2000, and competing networks followed suit. Those calls were reversed hours later, as the results appeared to favor Republican George W. Bush. It took three weeks for Florida to officially declare Bush the winner.
President Donald Trump has been clashing with the newspaper for more than four years, going back to the Times writing off his 2016 campaign as “sputtering” amid a “failing mission (by advisers) to save Donald Trump from himself.” Trump blasted the Times for using “non-existent, unnamed sources” to attack him, a method that he has seen continue throughout his first term as president.
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