CJR Outbox

How conservative media covered the 2020 election

November 4, 2020

I thought a majority of conservative media outlets would frame last night’s inconclusive voting results as a Trump victory. Instead, in some cases, they were even-handed.

Fox News called Arizona and Maine for Biden, ahead of CNN and MSNBC. This was a surprising and welcome development in a fractured media landscape characterized by polarized reporting and opinion. The Washington Examiner also provided fodder for this détente of sorts. Senior columnist Timothy Carney called Trump’s claims of voter fraud “unpresidential and bad.”

Others could not resist the tastiest sound bite from Trump’s speech—“frankly, we did win this election.” It allowed several conservative outlets to amplify the president’s dark interpretation of the voting results. Both WND and Big League Politics had prominent homepage stories featuring that unverified declaration. Aggressively pro-Trump writer Conrad Black asserted in his column for American Greatness that Trump “has probably won.”

Neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer agreed with him. Ominously, its editor, Andrew Anglin, wrote: “Trump is ready to take whatever actions are necessary to ensure that our country is not stolen from us. We are going to win. You may be called upon to help the president.”

Meanwhile, the Daily Caller’s White House correspondent Christian Datoc spent the evening inside the White House to report on Trump’s election night party. We learned that guests dined on hamburgers, french fries, and pigs in a blanket. Few wore masks. (We can only dream of what Hunter Thompson might have written in such a target-rich environment.)

There was one area of clear agreement between media outlets on the right and those on the left. Everyone despaired of polling. It was the night’s only clear loser, so far.

Sign up for CJR's daily email
Howard Polskin is the president and chief curator of TheRighting, a website that aggregates stories from right-wing media outlets on a daily basis to inform mainstream and liberal audiences. The site, which was launched in 2017, also tracks and analyzes traffic to conservative websites on a monthly basis.