Authoritarianism! PBS NewsHour Uses Poll to Imply January 6 Energy of Trump Voters

April 7th, 2024 8:12 AM

In the Brooks & Capehart pundit segment on Friday's PBS NewsHour, anchor Amna Nawaz broke out the latest NPR/PBS poll showing Biden leading Trump 50-48 (and left out the wider result -- Biden 43, Trump 41, RFK Jr. 11. Stein 2, West 1). They are using taxpayer money to do polling for their tilted narratives.

Nawaz wanted the pundits to talk about their provocative question about violence being necessary:

NAWAZ: In one question, we asked Americans if they felt that Americans have to resort to violence to get the country back on track. A majority, 79 percent, disagreed or strongly disagreed, but 12 percent of Democrats, 28 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of independents agreed violence might be necessary.

Couple that with another question we asked about whether they wanted to see a president or a leader who's willing to break the rules to set things straight, and some 41 percent of Americans agreed with that. That includes 56 percent of Republicans, 28 percent of Democrats, and 37 percent of independents.

When PBS and NPR ask this question, it's loaded. It's obviously a January 6 question, and they want January 6 to hang over this election, so they can push their Republicans-hate-Democracy spin. Many Republicans may be thinking about the 2020 rioting after George Floyd's death, which was deadlier than January 6. At least 19 Americans were killed in the first two weeks of violent protest.

Six percent of Republicans strongly agreed violence may be necessary, and 22 percent agreed. Now look at other demographics Amna Nawaz could have highlighted that are similar or greater than Republicans, including on the "strongly" agree number (on page 23):

Household income under $50,000: 24 percent (9 strongly agree/15 agree)

Under 45: 30 percent (9/21)

Age 18-29: 42 percent (14/28)

Parents with children under 18: 25 percent (7/18)

Blacks: 25 percent (14/11)

Latinos: 27 percent (5/22)

Jonathan Capehart made the obvious point that violence shouldn't be necessary, but he wasn't worried he was going to be asked about race or age: 

CAPEHART: It should be zero percent who say that violence is necessary. But that didn't concern me as much as the break the rules, someone who is willing to break the rules to get the country back on track.

I think, when people hear, break the rules, they're not thinking ransack the Capitol. They're thinking what they might view as little things. That's all — that's the Trump election — that's the Trump campaign right there, just wants to break the rules to get the country back on track. I broke the rules coming to the studio today. People break rules all the time…

But when you're talking about Donald Trump, breaking the rules is breaking law and order, breaking social — breaking norms, and breaking democracy.

As always, the lefties skip over how prosecuting Trump all over the country and trying to get his name ripped off ballots is "breaking norms." Brooks almost entirely seconded that Capehart emotion: 

BROOKS: I had the exact same reaction as Jonathan. I'm not a big fan of that would you resort to violence, because I don't know what that means. I don't know what violence means in that context.

And so people — when people answer that question, that they're really saying, how upset are you about the way things are going? But the breaking the rules thing, that is, to me, also much more upsetting, because that really is the seedbed of authoritarianism.

And it's mostly on the right. Trump is scaring a lot of people that we have to break the rules, but it's a little on the left. You hear people say we need to bust up the system, we need to tear down the system.

And that way lies authoritarianism. 

And you can see it in the Philippines, you can see it in Hungary, you can see it in Poland. Whenever you have a rise of authoritarianism, it's because people think that breaking the rules is somehow OK to make the streets safe. It's sort of like the Dirty Harry defense.And, to me, it's just — that's the most worrying part of our survey.

PS: The PBS NewsHour website has an article by their polling producer Laura Santhanam that reeeaaaally drives home the Trump-loathing point: 

During recent reelection campaign rallies, presumptive Republican nominee and former President Donald Trump has questioned the humanity of immigrants, referred to a much debated “blood bath for the country” if he does not get reelected and describes people who have been convicted for Jan. 6 criminal offenses as “hostages.”

READ MOREWhy Trump’s alarmist message on immigration may be resonating beyond his base

His speeches often attempt “to convince people the country is going downhill, that things are awful and only he can fix them,” said Barbara McQuade, a law professor at the University of Michigan and author of Attack from Within: How Disinformation is Sabotaging America

These latest poll results suggest “to some extent, these strategies are working” and highlight that “we need strong voices pushing back,” said McQuade, who served as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

“It’s an incredibly dangerous place to be,” she said.

McQuade added that authoritarians across history have deployed this tactic, conjuring fear to manipulate people’s emotions.