Nets Hype ‘Last-Ditch’ Liberal Push to Reverse Election Results

As members of the Electoral College were set to formally elect Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States on Monday, the network morning shows seized on left-wing efforts to pressure electors to reject the will of voters in their respective states and deny Trump the 270 votes necessary to win the presidency.

At the top of NBC’s Today, co-host Matt Lauer announced: “One last gasp. A desperate, last-ditch effort to deny Donald Trump the presidency as the Electoral College meets across country today. Protesters encouraging members to change their votes, but is there any real chance changing the outcome?”

Introducing a report minutes later, he observed: “Now typically it’s a ceremonial event, this time around though, it comes with an unusual amount of attention and even controversy.” Correspondent Hallie Jackson touted “the latest twist in an election that’s been full of them” as she described “a push to try and convince members of the Electoral College to, in effect, reverse the election, moves that would be unprecedented...”

Despite admitting the scheme was “unlikely to work,” she still promoted the move: “Today, the last, last-ditch attempt to try to reverse the election of Donald Trump, protests planned to persuade electors around the country not to cast votes for the President-elect....37 would need to flip to stop Trump temporarily...”

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Jackson highlighted: “It’s a Hail Mary, even with star-studded support from one famous fictional president.” A soundbite played of former West Wing star Martin Sheen joining other celebrities in a video pleading for the Electoral College to overthrow the results of November’s election: “Our founding fathers built the Electoral College to safeguard the American people from the dangers of a demagogue.”

The reporter continued: “Some electors pointing to U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessments that Russia interfered in the U.S. election as reason enough for electors to defect.” A clip ran of Democratic Rhode Island elector Clay Pell warning: “What I want is the information to be out there so that the American public and electors know who has been involved and make sure that we protect the integrity of the American democracy.”

After devoting a five-minute report to the topic, Jackson finally explained to viewers that the entire effort was destined to fail: “Let’s say that enough electors do flip to prevent Donald Trump from getting to 270, what happens then? Well, then the election goes to the House of Representatives, which as you know, is majority Republican, meaning there’s virtually no chance Donald Trump does not end up in the White House.”

Leading off ABC’s Good Morning America, fill-in co-host Amy Robach proclaimed: “The Electoral College expected to make it official for Donald Trump today. A last-ditch effort from celebrities and protesters to keep him from office...” In the report that followed, correspondent Cecilia Vega declared: “Donald Trump's opponents need just 37 electors to go rogue today. A handful have said they plan to. Despite this last minute push for a different outcome, the President-elect is poised to win the Electoral College when members cast their votes.”

She continued:

From celebrities making a last-minute appeal....To protesters marching on the National Mall and an online petition with nearly five million signatures. This morning, an unprecedented push for the Electoral College not to pick Donald Trump when they cast their vote today....A formality normally. But this year, all eyes on them, as Trump's opponents hope for a Hail Mary.

In a panel discussion after the report, even liberal commentator Cokie Roberts acknowledged futility of the protest: “It's spurred on by social media and all of that and these ads in the paper, all of it. But It's not going the go anywhere, George. We have seen protests before with the electoral college. And pretty much every four years, there's a challenge. But then it's over.”

In contrast to NBC and ABC, CBS This Morning only spent seconds on the issue, with co-host Norah O’Donnell noting: “538 members of the Electoral College will vote today in their state capitals. It's a formality required by the Constitution, but there will be protests this year and some electors are urging others not to vote for Donald Trump.”

Here are excerpts from the NBC and ABC December 19 coverage:  

Today
7:05 AM ET

MATT LAUER: Let’s move on to politics, members of the Electoral College will meet across the country today, that to validate the results of the presidential election. Now typically it’s a ceremonial event, this time around though, it comes with an unusual amount of attention and even controversy. NBC’s Hallie Jackson is in Florida, she’s got the latest on all this. Hallie, good morning.

HALLIE JACKSON: Hi, Matt, good morning to you. As Donald Trump gets ready for more meetings this afternoon at his Mar-a-Lago property, the latest twist in an election that’s been full of them is unfolding around the country. A push to try and convince members of the Electoral College to, in effect, reverse the election, moves that would be unprecedented, and frankly, unlikely to work.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Electoral College Votes Today; Protests Planned But Trump’s Win to Become Official]

JACKSON: Today, the last, last-ditch attempt to try to reverse the election of Donald Trump, protests planned to persuade electors around the country not to cast votes for the President-elect as 538 Electoral College members meet in all 50 states. 37 would need to flip to stop Trump temporarily, as he tweets, quote, “If my many supporters acted and threatened people like those who lost the election are doing, they would be scorned & called terrible names!” It’s a Hail Mary, even with star-studded support from one famous fictional president.

MARTIN SHEEN: Our founding fathers built the Electoral College to safeguard the American people from the dangers of a demagogue.

JACKSON: Some electors pointing to U.S. intelligence agencies assessments that Russia interfered in the U.S. election as reason enough for electors to defect.

CLAY PELL [D-RHODE ISLAND ELECTOR, FOX NEWS SUNDAY]: What I want is the information to be out there so that the American public and electors know who has been involved and make sure that we protect the integrity of the American democracy.

JACKSON: Electors will not be briefed on Russia’s involvement, despite a push by the man who’s e-mail was hacked, Hillary Clinton's former campaign chairman John Podesta.

JOHN PODESTA [MEET THE PRESS]: The electors have a right to know what the answers are, if the U.S. government has those answers, before the election.

JACKSON: To Donald Trump's aides, it’s something else.

KELLYANNE CONWAY [FACE THE NATION]: The entire nonsense about the electors trying to use the Russian hacking issue to change the election results is really unfortunate. I think that actually undermines our democracy more than any other conversation that we’re having right now.

JACKSON: The incoming chief of staff flatly denying any interaction between the Russians and team Trump.

REINCE PRIEBUS [FOX NEWS SUNDAY]: Even this question is insane. I mean, of course we didn’t interface with the Russians. I mean, this whole thing is a spin job.

(...)


GMA
7:08 AM ET

STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re going to move on now to the latest in the Trump transition. It's a decisive day. Presidential electors meet in all 50 states to cast their votes. That is Pennsylvania's state capitol in Harrisburg. Of course that state a key win for Donald Trump. The twenty electors there will vote with extra security is in place as protesters are gathering. ABC’s Cecilia Vega is here, you’re tracking it all, Good morning Cecilia.

VEGA: George Good morning to you. Donald Trump's opponents need just 37 electors to go rogue today. A handful have said they plan to. Despite this last minute push for a different outcome, the President-elect is poised to win the electoral college when members cast their votes. From celebrities making a last-minute appeal.

PSA: Republican members of the electoral college this message is for you.

VEGA: To protesters marching on the national mall. And an online petition with nearly 5 million signatures. This morning, an unprecedented push for the electoral college not to pick Donald Trump when they cast their vote today. 538 members convening in every state capital and the district of Columbia. A formality normally. But this year, all eyes on them, as Trump's opponents hope for a hail Mary. The vast majority of electors insisting they're not changing their vote.

ELECTORATE:  It really shows a lack of understanding of our democracy. It shows an honest lack and disrespect.

VEGA: Trump, praising the electoral college this weekend

TRUMP: I never realized what they had in mind. I never appreciated it till now. How genius it was.What they had in mind.  

VEGA: After once blasting it as a disaster for democracy. Still amidst accusations of Russians hacking in the election, 80 electors signing a letter asking the Director of National Intelligence to provide them with classified briefings before they vote. And Hillary Clinton's campaign manager endorsing that request.

PODESTA: What did Trump inc know and when did they know it? Were they in touch with the Russians? I think those are still open questions and the electors have a right to know what the answers are.

VEGA: But the Trump team pushing back hard.

CONWAY: The entire nonsense about the electors trying to use the Russian hacking issue to change the election results is really unfortunate. I think that actually undermines our democracy more than any other conversation we're having right now.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is the Senior News Analyst for MRC