Election 2020

No, Jared Kushner Did Not Suggest That Trump Might Unilaterally Delay the Presidential Election

There is a difference between reporting facts that make the president uncomfortable and manufacturing facts to fit a preconceived view of him.

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Did Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, suggest that his boss might try to unilaterally (and illegally) reschedule this fall's presidential election? That's the way The New York Times portrayed Kushner's comments, but it is not a fair interpretation.

The Times reports that Kushner "refused on Tuesday to rule out postponing the presidential election in November, a comment that fed directly into Democratic concerns that President Trump might use the coronavirus crisis to delay or delegitimize the contest and one that contradicted Mr. Trump himself." The headline: "Kushner, Law Aside, Doesn't Rule Out Delaying 2020 Election." The subtitle: "The opinion of a White House staff member has no bearing on when the election is held, but his comment played into the concerns of President Trump's detractors."

Here is the relevant exchange from Kushner's interview with Time magazine White House correspondent Brian Bennett:

Bennett: Is there any scenario, including a second outbreak in the fall, where the elections move past November 3rd?

Kushner: That's too far in the future to tell. Nothing that I'm aware of now, but again, our focus right now is just on getting the country—

Bennett: Will [unintelligible] commit that the elections will happen on November 3rd?

Kushner (laughing): It's not my decision to make, so I'm not sure I can commit one way or the other. But right now, that's the plan, and again, hopefully, by the time we get to September, October, November, we've done enough work with testing and with all the different things we're trying to do to prevent a future outbreak of the magnitude that would make us shut down again. I really believe that once America opens up, it will be very hard for America to ever lock down again.

Note that it was Bennett, not Kushner, who suggested the election might be delayed, and it was Bennett who suggested that the president has the power to do that. Why else ask a representative of the White House to "commit that the elections will happen on November 3rd"?

Far from agreeing with Bennett's premise, Kushner said, "It's not my decision to make, so I'm not sure I can commit one way or the other." The Times story omits the first part of that sentence, making it seem like Kushner was asserting a power he was actually disclaiming. Maybe Kushner meant that the timing of the election is Trump's decision, but there is no evidence to support that interpretation, other than the suspicion that the president is eager to assert dictatorial powers for his own political benefit in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some things Trump has said—in particular, his dubious assertion of "total" authority over the imposition and lifting of state lockdowns—have reinforced that view. But in practice, he has not actually tried to override state and local responses to the epidemic. To the contrary, many of his critics on the left have argued that the Trump administration should have asserted more authority in this area.

In any case, Trump has explicitly rejected the idea that the epidemic might force a delay of the presidential election. "Are you taking steps to ensure that the general election will happen even if this pandemic has reemerged or hasn't gone away?" a reporter asked the president during a press briefing last month. Trump's reply: "The general election will happen on November 3rd."

In this context, it is rather puzzling that Times reporters Annie Karni and  necessary to remind us that "the opinion of a White House staff member has no bearing on when the election is held," since "even the president himself does not have the authority to unilaterally postpone Election Day, which by law takes place the Tuesday after the first Monday in November." Their explanation for that civics lesson is a model of anti-Trump hostility masquerading as reporting:

Mr. Kushner's comment raised alarms both because of the expansive power Mr. Trump has conferred on members of his family who serve in his administration and because it played into the worst anxieties of Mr. Trump's detractors—that the president would begin to question the validity of the election if he feared he was going to lose.

The presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., gave voice to those concerns at a virtual fund-raiser last month. "Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow—come up with some rationale why it can't be held," he said.

For the president's most vociferous opponents, pretty much anything he or his underlings say "raise[s] alarms." When those alarms are false, as this one seems to be, the job of serious reporters is not to amplify them but to present the relevant facts.

In the 10th paragraph of the story, we get this response from Kushner:

On Tuesday night, Mr. Kushner sought to clarify his earlier interview. "I have not been involved in, nor am I aware of, any discussions about trying to change the date of the presidential election," he said. A White House official said Mr. Kushner was fully aware that the date was set by federal law.

In other words, the whole premise of the Times story, which was based on Kushner's purported "hedge about the date of the election" (as Karni and Haberman put it), seems to be fundamentally faulty.

Last month, Haberman, who covers the White House for the Times, co-wrote an opinion piece disguised as a news story that portrayed Trump as vain, petty, irresponsible, and self-obsessed. While I think that description, which was based on a content analysis of Trump's comments during COVID-19 briefings, is pretty accurate, the president's supporters probably would disagree. That sort of blatant bias, along with the subtler but still obvious bias epitomized by the Kushner story, shows that the president is right to view many of the reporters who cover him as political opponents.

That reality does not mean all of Trump's frequently unhinged complaints about the press are valid. There is a crucial distinction between reporting facts that make the president uncomfortable and manufacturing facts to fit a preconceived view of him. Does the Times understand the difference?

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  1. The Fake News peddling Fake a News?

    Unpossible!

  2. The Times misrepresented something that reflected poorly on Trump?

    Not news.

    1. No, the NYT deliberately went out of their way to attack a family member of POTUS Trump. Is anyone really surprised at how craven these people are?

      1. Have you noticed how all these Resistance fighters are always exactly what they accuse the administration of being?

      2. Oh my god what fucking crybabies you are.

        Family member… and top adviser on a huge range of issues with massive amounts of power (despite his competence).

        Remember when you idiots used to be skeptical of such things?

  3. The Fake News peddling Fake News?

    Unpossible!

    p.s. – my first post of this was flagged for review in less than 30 seconds! When did FacebookTwitterGoogleAmazon buy Reason??

    1. Most likely, someone was trying to close the AnyClip popup window.

      1. I flagged my own comment several weeks back doing exactly that.

        1. Metoo, and it wouldn’t let me post anymore afterwards.
          I had to re-register, so now I’m Mothers Lament instead of Fancylad.

          1. Did you consider adding (formerly Fancylad) at the end of your handle?

            1. I did, but to be honest I don’t think most here would give a toss.

  4. Please stop reporting about the NYT lies.
    Like a whining child, it just encourages them.

    1. It’s what they do, they don’t need encouragement. They’ve been doing it since Walter Duranty.

      But it’s still good to call attention to it.

  5. In a just world, CNN and the NYT would end up like the gingham dog and the calico cat.

    1. To be fair, CNN and the NYT eat each other out, which is almost the same thing as up.

  6. About every day there is a story about other news agencies “miss representing”, “making errors”, “reporting before fully vetting a story”, etc. At what point is it okay to say “they are evil lying cancers. They will lie, cheat and steal because the believe that if it advance the progressive/socialist agenda then the end justifies all means”

    Grow balls, call a spade a spade

    1. Careful now, you’ll upset Zeb.

      1. No, this is how you upset Zeb: “IPAs are only fit to be used as toilet cleaners.”

        1. Why would you do that to your toilet? It serves a valuable function and deserves to be treated with some amount or respect.

        2. I would prefer to upset Zeb with the truth.

          1. Ok, IPAs are only fit to be poured out for homies.

            1. i like IPAs. that is all.

      2. This new meme amuses me.

        1. Zeb is upset about it though.

          1. I am kind of partial to New England IPAs….

    2. At what point? About three years ago, roughly.

    3. “At what point is it okay to say “they are evil lying cancers.”

      At what point is is not delusional to expect that kind of response from one news agency about another?

  7. Who has time to worry about elections when we are in grave danger from “the virus”?

    1. The totally not Chinese Virus was set up by Trump to distract us from Global Warming. That is the REAL danger!

      That, and White Supremacists.

      And all men.

  8. Puzzling? Not in the slightest. This is the NYT, all the news that’s fit to fake.

  9. So the NYT lied. Again. Why won’t Reason use the word “lied” when covering repeated lies by left wing media?

    1. Because they are fans of Fleetwood Mac?

    2. Rabdom reasonoid sock – “he said “misrepresent” what do you want his first born child too?”

    3. Professional courtesy.

      1. Kinda how like cops let each other get away with committing crimes?

  10. There are millions of bored people at home. The Apple news feed is almost nothing but contrived outrage about a conversation the reporter didn’t witness.

    I can’t say it’s any different than the usual water cooler gossip. So I guess the reporters aren’t any dumber than my coworkers.

    1. From what I learned in college journalist majors are students that were so retarded they couldn’t make it through sociology, elementary education, etc. Or they were football/basketball players that were going pro, or rotc people that wanted to be career military and just needed any degree. Clearly not the highest of mental accument.

  11. Only the foolish and naive trust the media to report fairly and accurately about most any issue today.

  12. Only in the demented unreality of the left wing mind could they believe that the individual states would be compelled not to hold a presidential election.

    Seriously the left is fucking mad. They prove over and over they have no responsibility to run anything. It’s just all TDS politics because they know a republican White House ends their chance to save abortion on demand.

    1. You can always tell what the left is planning by what they accuse the other of doing.

      I’m guessing that the DNC isn’t excited about projections for November and wants a delay.

  13. The opinion of a White House staff member has no bearing on when the election is held, but his comment played into the concerns of President Trump’s detractors.

    NYTimes reporters pounce.

  14. There are so many legitimate reasons to criticize Trump, why the media insists on continuing to make things up is beyond me. I hate, as I suspect many libertarians do, that the media continues to put me in the position to have to defend him.

    1. The reason they continue to make things up is that there aren’t, in fact, so many legitimate reasons to criticize Trump. Or, at least, legitimate reasons that wouldn’t generally be either debatable or no big deal if put in context.

      1. Correct.
        But groupthink is so much easier

      2. this.

      3. Wish I could find the article of the professor claiming hate crime hoaxes are proof hate crime is rampant.

      4. Well let’s see, he’s done nothing to reign in spending. He’s used executive orders to fund his wall. He’s used executive orders to classify bump stocks as machine guns. He’s used his office to hand out cushy jobs to his family. I’d say those are all legitimate things to criticize him for.

        1. True, but they aren’t things the political left want’s to criticize.

          1. They’re also things Obo did with a clean skate from the press.

            1. It’s looking now like Obama pulled a Nixon multiplied by 1000. This may be the biggest political scandal in the past 100 years.

              How are the establishment and the press going to be able to bury this?

        2. Cushy jobs, for which his family is not paid. Neither Jared nor Ivanka draw a salary.

    2. It’s almost like if this is the shit they pick he’s probably not that bad.

    3. The problem is that other than being a big poopy head, the legitimate reasons to criticize Trump aren’t any worse than any other politician. And in most cases less worse. So just covering him straight doesn’t allow for the needed outrage.

      1. Or what Brett and Idle Hands just said.

        Great minds and all.

      2. And there lies the problem. All political leaders need to be held accountable. If you have no problem with Trump unilaterally bombing Syria with no congressional approval then you must not have had a problem with Obama doing the same thing in Libya. If you have no problem with him changing laws through executive action then you must not have had a problem with Obama doing the same thing.

        1. There was no AUMF for Libya. Even if we can make the case that some incidents of the use of US military force in Syria is not in accord with the AUMF, that is still a far cry from the Libya situation.

          Otherwise, fully agreed.

    4. Obviously they want him to win again. He’s great for ratings. Hating him makes his opponents feel really good, probably better than they would feel from actually being in power. By making things up, they dilute legitimate criticism that might sway neutral voters and rile up his base. They want four more years.

      1. That’s the only logical explanation for their behavior.

  15. There is a crucial distinction between reporting facts that make the president uncomfortable and manufacturing facts to fit a preconceived view of him. Does the Times understand the difference?

    No. Next question.

    1. I’m sure they understand. They just don’t care. They abandoned journalistic ethics long, long ago.

  16. Is anyone else getting bored of these stories? It’s like reading the exact same thing every single day.

    1. You want more Shrika immigration stories? Because this is how you get more Shrika immigration stories.

      1. I want to say that I prefer that at this point, but I feel I would regret it almost immediately. Did you notice she’s been pretty mum about immigration since since the sniffle apocalypse started?

        1. Didn’t “Reason” publish one of her bog-standard racism-shrieking freakout articles when Trump shutdown travel from China?

          Also, preferring that harpy to *Ebola* might be a step too far, but to another “NYT lies again” story? No way.

          1. OK, I got the comparison backwards, but you know what I mean.

            That brings up a great way to find out which handles are owned by “Reason” staffers: look for commenters who never have to correct a post (under the assumption that staffers get Edit buttons). Looking at you, Fist. Or should I say, Nick.

            1. Nick and Ron may be the only staffers left with the cajones to step into the comment boards. Whatever you think of Bailey, he’s willing to step in with his real name. That deserves some respect.

              1. Not anymore.
                Which isn’t surprising, considering how wrong he’s been about the ChiRona and his demand for testing and tracking

                1. Ron is literally a transhumanist, and I must remind people that one should never trust a transhumanist for any reason.

                  1. OK, Captain Transphobe.

  17. The left gaslights themselves so much.

    Remember in when Trump was asked if he would honor the election results if he lost? Then when he won, #notmypresident came out.

    1. Right? They pretended like contesting the results would do unprecedented harm to the nation and further divide us. I never got around to reading Hilary’s “What Happened?” I assume it was mostly about accepting what happened, taking personal responsibility and wishing nothing but the best for people that voted against her.

  18. Let’s all try to remember that neither Annie Karni nor Maggie Haberman have never denied being Russian prostitutes recruited from a donkey show by Putin himself to work as propagandists at the NYT, nor has Dean Baquet ever denied being a donkey at a donkey show recruited by Putin himself for the same purpose.

    1. I have an unnamed witness to said donkey show. They want to remain anonymous, which by NYT current standard, still makes this revelation credibly publishable.

    2. *standing ovation*

    3. *Does Google Image Search for Annie Karni nor Maggie Haberman*

      Well maybe Karni on Baquet, but to be honest when it comes to Haberman I’d rather just watch two donkeys.

  19. Who is this Jared guy? Not the Subway guy. That was a different Jared. Is he related to this Karen I heard about?

    Confused in Tacoma.

    1. Trump’s son-in-law.

      1. Lol. Oh wow.

      2. So one of them is in government. The other is in government custody.

        They look a lot alike so easy to mix them up.

  20. Earlier today ran across this headline:
    ‘Trump Splits with Fauci Over Reopening’
    Well, here’s a hint to the headline writer: Trump’s the boss. Fauci is there to advise him regarding medical issues, but Trump is the guy who is charged with weighing all the aspects and making the decision.
    No, Trump didn’t ‘split with’ Fauci; he didn’t take his advice.

  21. It was a soft ball question and Kushner dropped it. He could have easily and quickly denounced any idea of an election delay, but he did not. A senior WH official and advisor to the president even a little bit entertaining the idea of a delayed election is a big deal.

    1. Except he didn’t.
      Stop being dishonest.

      1. They can’t help themselves.

    2. Hey look everyone, Molly is here to parrot the NYT and lie about something you can literally read at the top of the article.

      Fuck you, I won’t vote for Trump no matter how much you want me to.

      1. So do you small-government power-skeptical libertarians object to a journalist pinning the administration down on whether it’s going to seize unlawful power, or are you just upset that a little boy got asked the easiest question in the world and got embarrassed by not just answering it? Poor Jared fee-fees.

    3. Give Kushner a break. Nobody made him watch the entire run of “Yes, Minister” before taking the position.

  22. The media, led by the NYT and The WaPo, have lost their collective minds over the Trump presidency. So glad I cancelled my subscription to both.

  23. This is a favorite tactic of yellow journalism. Ask an party (especially an effectively powerless party but one with implicit political weight, like a White House staffer, press officer, etc) an impossible question that they have no authority to decide on or really even answer and catch them in a simultaneously uncomfortable but meaningless answer and then use that to cast aspersions on whatever political figure/party/idea they are supposed to represent, even obliquely. It’s like straw-manning but with an actual quoted source to lend credence to your stupid argumentative premise. Nothing of informative value was obtained in doing this.

  24. While it is true that Kushner did not say it, the narrative fits the idea of him being a conniving weasel. This is not unusual for some politician to be viewed this way, see Hillary Clinton. What I am more interested in is did Mr. Kushner advise the President to avoid preparing for the pandemic because it would fluster the stock market. If the President did take this advice we are moving from incompetence to criminal incompetence. Which by the way also fits the narrative for the Administration.

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