Every editorial page has misfires over the course of a year, but the Wall Street Journal really set itself apart this year as not only publishing its usual reality adjacent pieces, but actually managing to gaslight Americans in advance on two of the biggest betrayals of the year.
Sure, there was conservative columnist Peggy Noonan spouting off about how “insubstantial” and “embarrassing” Kamala Harris was shortly before she made history as the first woman and person of color to be elected vice president. And who can forget GOP Sen. Tom Cotton longing to turn the U.S. Military on American protesters in the pages of the New York Times? Even so, Wall Street Journal gets my vote for offering two of the most pernicious and misleading op-eds of the year.
these held up well pic.twitter.com/6TTxrNZEgk
— John Kruzel (@johnkruzel) December 16, 2020
In June, Mike Pence, supposed chief of the coronavirus White House task force put pen to paper to assure Americans that the so-called second wave of COVID-19 cases was all just a fictional media narrative. “In recent days, the media has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a “second wave” of coronavirus infections. Such panic is overblown,” Pence wrote in the lede of the piece.
Beyond spouting a bunch of platitudes about Trump’s amazing leadership, Pence said the country was “winning the fight,” cases had “stabilized,” and new outbreaks were being contained through early detection and increased testing. Trump had “rallied the American people to embrace social-distancing guidelines” and, because people had done so, “all 50 states have begun to reopen in a safe and responsible manner,” Pence wrote.
“The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different,” he added, concluding, “We’ve slowed the spread, we’ve cared for the most vulnerable, we’ve saved lives, and we’ve created a solid foundation for whatever challenges we may face in the future. That’s a cause for celebration, not the media’s fear mongering.”
When Pence wrote that op-ed in mid-June, the U.S. has just passed 115,000 COVID-related deaths and was averaging some 750 deaths per day over a 5-day period. At the time of this writing (Dec. 20), the U.S. had surpassed 317,000 deaths due to COVID-19 and the country recorded a record 3,600 earlier in the week. Heckuva job, Mikey. And thanks for Wall Street Journal for lending your pages to the guy who had already botched the coronavirus response from Day 1.
And then there was White House whatever-thingamajig Mick Mulvaney telling all the pearl clutchers in early November that Donald Trump would “concede gracefully” if he lost. Who coulda guessed that the guy who told everyone to just “get over it” after Trump tried to trade foreign aid to Ukraine for a fabricated investigation of his political rival would be so wildly off about Trump’s “graceful” exit.
Mulvaney asserted that the misguided questions about Trump’s commitment to a peaceful transition of power came from people who “still think he should’ve been impeached, believe the polls, and consider the Washington Post, New York Times and CNN reliable sources.” Totally, Mick—fake news!
Here’s the reality about a month out from Trump’s constitutionally ordained exit:
I’ve been covering Donald Trump for a while. I can’t recall hearing more intense concern from senior officials who are actually Trump people. The Sidney Powell / Michael Flynn ideas are finding an enthusiastic audience at the top. https://t.co/NxjC0sUrzI
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) December 19, 2020
“Senior Trump administration officials are increasingly alarmed that President Trump might unleash—and abuse—the power of government in an effort to overturn the clear result of the election,” wrote Jonathan Swan of Axios on Dec. 19. “These officials tell me that Trump is spending too much time with people they consider crackpots or conspiracy theorists and flirting with blatant abuses of power.” That’s where Trump was over a month and some 60 consecutive court losses into his epic attempt to engineer a fascist power grab.
But Mulvaney, clearly expecting a loss, was already laying the foundation for Trump’s string of bogus legal challenges. “Voters need this election to be fully litigated. Whoever occupies the presidency cannot have rumors floating around for the next four years about dead people voting or ballot dumps in the middle of the night,” he wrote. “The U.S. needs to know that the winner is actually the winner. And once Americans know that, I have every expectation that Mr. Trump will be, act and speak like a great president should—win or lose.”
Thanks for playing, whatever-thingamajig Mick. Does a “great president” declare martial law because he was too much of a loser to legitimately win? We know—just get over it.