Amid the dueling claims and information chaos in the wake of Election Day 2020, we’re seeing the consequence of the loss of faith in our basic institutions by at least half of the American public. These Americans have seen stark, specific examples in recent years of how justice is not equally applied.
They have watched as some federal agents and officials of the intelligence community, who should be helping to protect us and to uphold the laws, instead have embarked upon propaganda campaigns and operations that involved committing shocking violations and potential crimes, such as conducting illegal spying, filing improper wiretap applications, unmasking the protected names of innocent U.S. citizens, engaging in illegal leaks of confidential or classified information, and destroying evidence and documents. These lapses didn’t just happen during the 2016 presidential election; there is evidence they have been going on for years, unmitigated.
These Americans have watched, too, as those within our institutions, who are in a position to hold the guilty parties accountable, have failed to do so even as the evidence poured in and as the weeks, months and years have dragged on.
They have witnessed many of the institutions encompassing the nation’s media, social media and the internet getting away with increasingly offensive, restrictive censorship of certain people and certain thoughts — making sure that we don’t see some information and views while forcing other views down our throats, including one-sided false narratives and claims.
And these Americans have seen some of our courts co-opted and used as tools to stop certain politicians and policies.
It should be of little surprise, then, that this loss of faith in our basic institutions now extends to our election system. Americans know that the key to finding the truth lies in the hands of the very players who have proven to be so conflicted, incompetent and, at times, dishonest in the recent past.
The same pundits, analysts and news outlets that got 2016 so wrong and then followed a one-dimensional, biased path down the road to supposed Russia collusion only to be proven wildly wrong — the same folks who never apologized or self-corrected for their egregious errors then — are now reporting on the 2020 presidential election. We’re counting on them to do journalistic investigations and to find the facts.
The Department of Justice is relied upon to help identify and prosecute election fraud. We turn to the courts to arbitrate disputes over ballots and counts. We use the internet to find facts and information about all of it.
In short, the sources we now rely on most under the current scenario are some of the same ones who have spent the better part of the past four years apparently breaking rules and sometimes committing crimes to try to oust President Trump. Whatever turns out to be the case in the end, to suggest that it’s crazy or off-base to suspect any sort of conspiracy against Donald Trump is, itself, the irrational thought. People wouldn’t be thinking logically if they didn’t at least explore the possibility that there might be those willing to cross lines to keep Trump from getting reelected.
Those who are suspicious are not the ones to blame for their lack of confidence in all of the institutions involved. They’re simply learning from experience.
Sharyl Attkisson is an Emmy-winning investigative journalist, author of the upcoming “Slanted: How the News Media Taught Us to Love Censorship and Hate Journalism,”