Former President Donald Trump, shown here in a 2016 file photo, is still claiming the 2020 election was “rigged.” (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump has a true knack for keeping himself very relevant in the political news realm, despite mounting data and dialogue that indicate his chance of getting back to the White House is shrinking.
Trump’s latest instance of headline-grabbing folderol involves his recent statement on Truth Social calling for “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution” in order that he be declared winner of the 2020 presidential election.
It’s yet another iteration of the Big Lie, which Trump continues to repeat knowing he has a sizable core of followers who can’t be bothered with the fact he lost and the voter fraud he claims didn’t happen. As I write this the morning of Dec. 7, you can bet it’s only a matter of time before Trump questions the legitimacy of results in Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff, harkening back to his false claims of fraud that followed his own loss in the state two years ago.
Yet his familiar tune still plays on in the news cycle. Heck, I’m still talking about it days later even though there’s no substantial information to share.
Here’s how Trump typically makes front pages and network news A-blocks — and stays there.
First, he makes an outrageous statement, and the initial wave of news coverage echoes it. Next, there’s a round of condemnation and “how dare he say that” stories.
That’s followed by follow-ups to check in with key Republicans about what they think about what Trump said. Add another day with response from Democrats who can’t believe GOP leaders won’t adequately distance themselves from Trump. Then the cycle often closes with Trump saying the news media got it all wrong from the start — by quoting him directly.
As long as Trump remains at the forefront of the Republican Party, you can expect this cycle to repeat itself. Journalists can’t just ignore the blather from Mar-a-Lago, but they do have the obligation to fact-check and provide proper context to what’s being said.
Like much of what he offers up on social media, Trump’s “termination” talk has no basis in legislative procedure, political precedence or logic. Neither he nor any other elected official can suspend portions of the law not to their liking.
Trump certainly knows this. But he also knows the more outrageous he can be with his public statements, the more they will resonate in the echo chamber. Not so long ago, there was a chorus of prominent voices joining him. They seem to be wavering as of late.
While we can’t ignore what Trump has to say, we can decide how strong the gravitational pull of his words will be. His ardent supporters in the GOP can choose how long his voice lingers.
This commentary was first published by the Louisiana Illuminator, a sibling site of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.
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