PBS Host Slams ‘Damaging Denialism’ Among Trump’s Possible Veep Picks

The taxpayer-funded PBS NewsHour keeps obsessing over clips from NBC’s Meet the Press where host Kristen Welker pesters Republican senators who refuse to commit to conceding the 2024 election before anyone votes. Two weeks ago on the Monday night pundit panel of Amy Walter and NPR’s Tamara Keith addressed Sen. Tim Scott refusing to knuckle under to six questions.

This week, it happened again, when host Geoff Bennett — formerly of MSNBC — played video of Welker fighting with Sen. Marco Rubio. Bennett warned “the so-called big lie about the 2020 election has now become this big litmus test for Republicans. And it’s expanded to their willingness to accept the results of the 2024 election.” At least this time, PBS let Rubio say Democrats have refused to accept every presidential defeat since 2000. Bennett didn’t address the point that liberal media outlets don’t ask Democrats if they’ll accept defeat…noting they didn’t really accept it in 2016.

Keith accurately noted that Trump refuses to concede defeat in 2020, but talked about “permission structures.” She said “now you have Republicans out there, mainstream Republicans, creating sort of a permission structure, saying that, if it’s fair, then maybe I will support the results. They’re not willing to commit in advance.” It would be fun to tell Keith to her face that NPR also demands loyalty, and when Uri Berliner stepped out of line, he was pressured into resigning.

Bennett then declared: “And he’s not the only one. Senator Tim Scott would also not commit to accepting the results of the 2024 election. This has very much become party orthodoxy now.” He complained this has become GOP “orthodoxy” and proclaimed “we know how damaging this denialism is for our democracy” and wondered “is there political utility in Republicans rallying around this issue?”

There is political utility in Republicans pushing back on Democrat spin on Meet the Press. But to this unanimous trio, it’s about excessive loyalty to Trump. Amy Walter answered: “When you see folks like Marco Rubio or those other candidates you discussed going on TV and answering questions like this, they really aren’t speaking to voters. They’re speaking to an audience of one. And that is Donald Trump. Many of them are essentially in tryouts to be the vice president.”

This loyalty segment began with Bennett bringing up the “pilgrimage” of Republicans to the Trump trial. Keith argued “By making that pilgrimage up there, often dressed in the Trump uniform, they are standing behind him quite literally and signaling certainly to Republican base voters, it’s OK. You don’t need to worry about this thing, no matter how it turns out. This is fine. Don’t worry.”

Bennett pointed out House Speaker Mike Johnson appeared on the scene, and “by being there, he is effectively leveraging his speakership and all of the symbolic weight and significance that carries against the justice system.” You know it’s a Democrat network when an elected Democrat DA and a Biden-donating judge are presented as the entire “justice system.”

Walter noted this is one way Speaker Johnson holds on to his job, by pleasing Trump.

Transcript is below: 

PBS NewsHour
May 20, 2024

7:42 pm

Geoff Bennett:  And he’s not the only one. Senator Tim Scott would also not commit to accepting the results of the 2024 election. This has very much become party orthodoxy now.

Tamara Keith: And this is very similar to language that many Republicans, including Mike Pence, landed on after the 2020 election and before January 6, where they didn’t want to go all the way as far as Trump is going and say that the election was stolen, but they wanted to say, well, you should look into it. And what they’re saying here is, well, we will support the results if it’s a fair election.

But it’s worth noting that former President Trump really only thinks an election is fair if he wins. And I will just remind you that, after 2016, he won, and then he claimed that there was election — there was voter fraud in California and New Hampshire because he didn’t win those states.

So he is someone who has a very lengthy, proven track record of denying election results. And now you have Republicans out there, mainstream Republicans, creating sort of a permission structure, saying that, if it’s fair, then maybe I will support the results. They’re not willing to commit in advance. And that creates a permission structure for mainstream Republican voters to say, well, if they’re OK with this, then I can be OK with this.

Geoff Bennett: And, Amy, we know how damaging this denialism is for our democracy. How does it play politically? I mean, is there political utility in Republicans rallying around this issue? What does it do for moderate Republicans or independent voters, who are going to be the swing deciders in this election?

Amy Walter: When you see folks like Marco Rubio or those other candidates you discussed going on TV and answering questions like this, they really aren’t speaking to voters. They’re speaking to an audience of one. And that is Donald Trump.

Many of them are essentially in tryouts to be the vice president. What we know about this president, it’s always been the case, but I think it has even ratcheted up in the most recent time period, that he looks for loyalty above all else, and especially in his vice president, the person who will be with him if he gets back to the White House. He wants to make sure that, no matter what, this person is going to stand with him.

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