Riled Up: Misinformation Stokes Calls for Violence on Election Day
Baseless claims are circulating online about a Democrat-led coup, inflaming tensions in an already turbulent election season.
Since when are the liberal media not “inflaming tensions in an already turbulent election season”? Davey Alba’s inflammatory story began:
In a video posted to Facebook on Sept. 14, Dan Bongino, a popular right-wing commentator and radio host, declared that Democrats were planning a coup against President Trump on Election Day.
For just over 11 minutes, Mr. Bongino talked about how bipartisan election experts who had met in June to plan for what might happen after people vote were actually holding exercises for such a coup. To support his baseless claim, he twisted the group’s words to fit his meaning.
“I want to warn you that this stuff is intense,” Mr. Bongino said, speaking into the camera to his 3.6 million Facebook followers. “Really intense, and you need to be ready to digest it all.”
His video, which has been viewed 2.9 million times, provoked strong reactions. One commenter wrote that people should be prepared for when Democrats “cross the line” so they could “show them what true freedom is.” Another posted a meme of a Rottweiler about to pounce, with the caption, “Veterans be like … Say when Americans.”
This so-called gaggle of “bipartisan election experts” is called the Transition Integrity Project. In a 22-page report that defines the term “paranoid style,” they “gamed out” bizarre scenarios in which that evil authoritarian Trump wages war on democracy after Election Day, that “this election represents an existential crisis, the last chance to stop a rapid and potentially irreversible US decline into authoritarianism and unbridled nativism.”
Conservatives highlighted this passage on page 11:
Planners need to take seriously the notion that this may well be a street fight, not a legal battle; technocratic solutions, courts, and a reliance on elites observing norms are not the answer here.
Alba might find it “baseless” that TIP is “calling” for violence, while they’re absolutely predicting the Trumpers will thrive on violence and/or “suggesting likely Antifa violence.” You can’t lament “inflaming tenstions” and not blame TIP for it!
So there’s no left-wing plot afoot? The Daily Beast ran a story titled “The Left Secretly Preps for MAGA Violence After Election Day.” Sam Stein says a leftist group called Fight Back Table read through the TIP paranoia and prepared for the street wars:
“The potential for violent conflict is high,” the report noted.
Some of the hurdles were straightforward: how you “occupy shit, hold space, and shut things down, not just on Election Day but for weeks,” explained one source familiar with the Democracy Defense Nerve Center operations.
This “bipartisan effort” at TIP is led in part by Nils Gilman. As we’ve noted here, Gilman’s vocation is to make America transition from capitalism. Matt Palumbo at Bongino.com reveals that Gilman responded to Michael Anton’s report on a “coup” by suggesting that Anton should be executed, like the French fascist journalist Robert Brasillach:
That sounds like violent rhetoric “inflaming tensions.” But Alba had tweeted cutesy emojis at Gilman (which she later deleted).
Alba later turned from ripping Bongino to turning on Mark Levin, Breitbart, and the Daily Wire:
All of the rumors appeared to be having the same effect: Of riling up Mr. Trump’s restive base, just as the president has publicly stoked the idea of election chaos. In comment after comment about the falsehoods, respondents said the only way to stop violence from the left was to respond in kind with force.
“Liberals and their propaganda,” one commenter wrote. “Bring that nonsense to country folks who literally sit in wait for days to pull a trigger.”
The misinformation, which has been amplified by right-wing media such as the Fox News host Mark Levin and outlets like Breitbart and The Daily Wire, adds contentiousness to an already powder-keg campaign season. Mr. Trump has repeatedly declined to say whether he would accept a peaceful transfer of power if he lost to his Democratic challenger, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and has urged his supporters “to go into the polls and watch very carefully.”
Somehow, the media elites with their panic about Trump refusing to concede defeat aren’t inciting the public like they’re accusing Bongino and Levin of doing. On his Facebook page, Levin laid out what Alba sent to him:
I’m a reporter with The New York Times, where I am writing about growing rumors of an Election Day coup. I’m hoping to reach Mark Levin for his tweet and Facebook post, in which he said, “If a defeated Biden does not concede and his party’s rioters take to the streets in a coup attempt against President Trump, will the military be needed to stop them?”
Levin responded: “Let me respond publicly to you since I don’t trust the New York Times to get right whatever I say. Uh, Davey, no offense, but you’re not very sharp. This was my sarcastic response to the Democrats, mocking what they’ve been saying for weeks. Democrats like Biden, Clinton, Gore, Pelosi, Podesta, and others. I am deeply concerned about their dog whistles to violent groups like Antifa and BLM, and other Democrat-friendly groups, which deeply worries me. If you were concerned about riling up people, as I am, why didn’t you confront the Democrat Party leadership?”
Bongino posted his sharp response to Alba as well: