Over the last 24 hours, President-elect Donald Trump's Twitter feed has spread unfounded claims about voter fraud in the presidential election and called for recounts in several key states.
In a Facebook post on Monday, former CBS news anchor Dan Rather spelled out the danger of Trump's messaging and why these tweets are no laughing matter.
Trump's claims about voter fraud are indeed "serious": they are not supported by evidence but are nonetheless broadcast to a massive audience, aided by media outlets often — but not always — repeating them without fact checking.
As Rather argued:
Trump's tweet come after years of efforts to institute voter I.D. laws and scrap early voting at the state level, foreshadows future assaults on the Voting Rights Act, or so The Nation's Ari Berman writes in a New York Times Op-Ed.
"In June 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Shelby County v. Holder that states with a long history of racial discrimination no longer needed to approve any proposed changes to their voting procedures with the federal government, as had long been required under the Voting Rights Act. That meant this year’s presidential election was the first in 50 years without the full protections of the act.
"What was the result? Fourteen states had new voting restrictions in effect in 2016, including strict voter ID laws, fewer opportunities for early voting and reductions in the number of polling places. These restrictions depressed turnout in key states like Wisconsin, particularly among black voters."
Rather's point, meanwhile, is two-fold: the recount effort in Wisconsin and other states will likely not be successful, but Trump's use of Twitter fails both distracts from actual voter suppression efforts pursued by his party while spreading disinformation to bolster them.
Rather partly attributes these tweets to Trump's "petty" knee-jerk reactions to criticism, as evidenced by attacks on targets ranging from his political opponents to Saturday Night Live and the cast of "Hamilton."
The latter tweet is symptomatic of Trump spreading misinformation: terming a critical message for Vice President-elect Mike Pence delivered by a group of theater actors "harassment" — a crime — when it was at most a plea for respect and dignity.
You can read and share Rather's full post on Facebook.