Donald Trump finally spoke to the American people on Thursday as his voting leads dwindled in several states and the 2002 presidential election hung in the balance. But what he said was so dishonest and flatly wrong that most television networks either cut in to correct misinformation about the election or stopped airing his statement outright.
Trump addressed the media shortly after 6:30 eastern time on Thursday, the first time he spoke since an early Wednesday morning rally at the White House where he falsely claimed victory in both several states and the election itself well before the result was certain. As of Thursday, it still wasn’t, though as mail-in votes were counted things were trending toward a Joe Biden victory in several states.
Which perhaps is why Trump claimed a vast conspiracy against him and baselessly accused voting fraud in several states like Pennsylvania, while still insisting votes be counted in places like Arizona where he appears to be gaining on Biden’s lead. The press conference was either interrupted or stopped altogether, though notably CNN aired it uninterrupted and in its entirety.
MSNBC immediately cuts off Trump when he moves to undermine the integrity of US election system.
"Here we are again in the unusual position of not only interrupting the President of the United States but correcting the President of the United States…" pic.twitter.com/IwVshBmosK
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) November 5, 2020
Fox's @BretBaier steps in to debunk baseless claims by a guest on the turnout rate in Milwaukee and other cities.
It's going to be critical in the weeks ahead for anchors to be prepared with the facts – as Bret was – to convey accurate information to the public.
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) November 5, 2020
CNN’s Daniel Dale called the press conference the “most dishonest” one Trump had ever given since he announced he was running for president.
I've read or watched all of Trump's speeches since 2016. This is the most dishonest speech he has ever given.
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 5, 2020
And afterward, Jake Tapper called Trump “pathetic” twice and called it a sad day for America, as his White House press conference was deemed a direct attack on democracy and the election process that’s still incomplete and with a winner undetermined.
Jake Tapper after Trump press conference. pic.twitter.com/uQJTnXlGP7
— Ⓜ️arcusD ▶️ (@_MarcusD3_) November 6, 2020
“What a sad night for the United States of America to hear their president falsely accuse people of trying to steal the election. To try to attack democracy like that with his feast of falsehoods. Lie after lie after lie about the election being stolen. No evidence of what he had to say, just smears of vote counting in state after state,” Tapper said. “When he wins a state, it’s legitimate. When he loses a state, it’s that it’s being stolen from him. It’s not true, it’s ugly. It’s, frankly, pathetic.”
The CNN host continued, but perhaps it was Anderson Cooper who had the most biting line about Trump in the immediate aftermath of his speech.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this from a president of the United States,” Cooper said afterward, noting that Trump had zero evidence of the fraud and offered a misleading and outright incorrect assessment of how elections work. Cooper also said that Trump was “like an obese turtle on his back flailing in the sun.”
Quote of the Year contender: “Like an obese turtle on his back flailing in the hot sun realizing his time is over.” pic.twitter.com/zHS9geP48M
— Chris Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) November 6, 2020
While he spoke disparagingly about the assembled media and claimed a vast conspiracy against him, this photograph perhaps best captured the mood of the press conference.
— Rob Crilly (@robcrilly) November 5, 2020
As of Thursday night, the election’s results remained unclear. But Trump’s statement sounded like that of a frustrated man unable to come to terms with the reality of the results to come, leaving America in an uncertain place in what’s been an increasingly long year.