The past week brought further evidence of how deep and wide the propaganda war is on ordinary Americans. Trump supporters converged on Washington, D.C., last Saturday for the “Million MAGA March.” The crowd was enormous, but -- like so much else these days -- it is nearly impossible to get accurate information about how many people were there. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted out that it was “more than one MILLION” people, which seems highly unlikely. Yet, the major media -- predictably -- went in the opposite direction, downplaying the event to one that only thousands attended. How many thousands? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Just eyeballing the crowds from the vantage points of the many overhead shots provided on social media and elsewhere, it looked like enough people to fill the largest college or NFL stadium and then some. You wouldn’t know that from reading the articles.
It isn’t just the numbers that the media manipulates; it’s the motives.
The crowd was diverse in age, race, ethnicity and every other conceivable characteristic. However many there were in our nation’s capital, they were clearly there to express their love of their country, their support for the president and their support of his efforts to determine whether the vote count on Nov. 3 was accurate or the product of manipulation, deceit and fraud. They were peaceful, unmasked, walking with flags and many with children and pets. At various points throughout the event, they prayed and sang the national anthem. There was no looting, no vandalism, no attacking people, destroying monuments or burning buildings.
Until the rally ended, that is, and out came the attackers, believed to be part of the antifa and BLM groups, screaming obscenities, instilling fear, inciting violence and causing bloodshed, as they have in cities across the country for months. Rally attendees were screamed at, pelted with eggs, doused with liquids, shoved and assaulted, their flags and clothing stolen and burned. Diners at a D.C. restaurant had exploding fireworks and debris thrown at them. One of the most disturbing videos showed a man getting sucker-punched from behind, falling onto the pavement and then being kicked as he lay unconscious. He wasn’t wearing a mask, but his attackers were. One even stole the cellphone that he dropped when he collapsed.
The media is no more honest about the march itself than it is the concerns behind it.
Americans concerned about voter fraud are denounced as “conspiracy theorists” and part of the “hard, hard right,” and those concerns themselves are dismissed as “debunked ideas.” NPR called last weekend’s D.C. march “a petri dish of conspiracy and extremism” and, in what has become a tried-and-true trope, evoked the specter of the 2017 event in Charlottesville, Virginia, at which a woman was killed.
Meanwhile, the screamers and sucker-punchers and firework throwers were mere “counterprotesters,” the violence they instigated called “scattered clashes.” In fact, the Washington Post accused rally attendees of having come to D.C. “intent on clashing.”
Oh, so it’s the fault of those who were attacked.
This started even before Trump was elected, but the narrative has remained the same: Trump supporters are ignorant racists, sexists and bigots, making them -- all 73 million of them, apparently -- purveyors of “lies, hate, chaos and division,” at least if one listens to former first lady Michelle Obama.
Buried in the Washington Post article is this statement: “Organizers of the event falsely claim that the election won by President-elect Joe Biden was stolen.”
There’s the real issue.
The press -- like the left generally -- is treating all claims of election fraud as an absurd impossibility concocted in the fevered dreams of QAnon (whoever that is). But in truth, whether there was serious fraud in the Nov. 3 election is unknown and under investigation.
I wonder sometimes whether Republicans -- including Trump’s team -- truly understand what's meant by a "propaganda war." It is a war. You cannot sit back while your opponent does battle. The anti-Trump forces are lobbing round after round, and the Trump side keeps saying, "Just wait!"
Trump’s people don't seem to get that teaser after teaser is not going to cut it. Conservative voters have heard this stuff for years: "We've got the goods on 'Fast and Furious' now!" "Lois Lerner is going to prison!" (She retired with a full pension.) "Just wait until you hear the big bombshell about Hillary Clinton's emails!" "Hunter Biden smoked crack -- with Russian hookers!"
This week, attorney Sidney Powell dropped the biggest teaser of all: Trump really won, and by millions of votes!
But no proof.
Meanwhile, two Republican election officials in Wayne County, Michigan, caved in and agreed to certify the votes -- after they were accused of racism and their children were threatened, but whatevs.
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign has lost recent court challenges in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Arizona.
Drip. Drip. Drip. Pound. Pound. Pound.
The diehards stand waiting for the Mother of All Bombshells to drop. But that group is shrinking. Because the rest of the 73 million Americans (or 75 million or 77 million or whatever the number really is) are getting that sinking, familiar feeling again. They've seen this movie way too many times, and they know how it ends.
The propaganda war is not the electoral victory, which is -- perhaps understandably -- where the Trump team is focusing all its efforts. But if Team Trump loses the propaganda war -- and he is behind there, too -- even if Trump finds the votes to flip the states and claim election victory, he will face popular opposition that cannot be underestimated.
Whatever information Powell, Rudy Giuliani and the rest of Trump’s legal team have, they need to drop it soon if they want it to matter, not to the judges but to the American people.
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