The cable television show “Ancient Aliens” offers rapid-fire theories about UFOs visiting Egyptian pyramids or Aztec cities. What makes the show work, according to the The Smithsonian Magazine article with the blunt headline, “The Idiocy, Fabrication and Lies of Ancient Aliens,” is a delivery method known as Gish Gallop.
It goes like this: A single outlandish theory is easy to disprove. But if you throw out tons of information in rapid fashion — aliens killed the dinosaurs and Jonah was swallowed by an alien submarine — someone is bound to believe it.
Election fraud theories are like “Ancient Aliens.” By themselves, it’s easy to pick these allegations to pieces. A truck driver picked up a crate of ballots in New York and delivered 100,000 of them to Pennsylvania? This was never proven and the truck driver, Jesse Richard Morgan, said a sworn statement it was between 250 and 7,500 ballots, well below number needed to swing the election. Morgan also claims to be a ghost hunter. Records show he was told by a judge, in open court, that he “constantly lied.”
Perhaps not the shoulders upon which to rest the future of our democracy.
Peter Navarro, who heads the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, produced a report, “The Immaculate Deception,” that packs a lot of Gish Gallop into 36 pages.
After a water leak at an Atlanta poling station, according to the Navarro report, the room was cleared and officials were shown on surveillance pulling out large boxes of ballots from a table. In actuality, the water main and the surveillance video were events that occurred 17 hours apart. Secretary of State Frances Watson said, in a sworn affidavit, that the ballots were being placed in those containers, per regulations, because the poll workers were finished for the day.
These stories have legs, partly because the other side wants to believe it so badly, partly because journalists are lazy and like to give the blanket “baseless claims” description.
It was illuminating, perhaps, that Sen. Josh Hawley, in an op-ed article explaining his opposition to the electoral count, chose to focus not on wild theories but on the process of expanding Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting, which he believes exceeded the boundaries of that state’s laws. Hawley might be right about the claim, but he’s wrong on the remedy.
How can anyone discount thousands of votes that were made in good faith, based on the assurances of the legislature and the courts at the time?
Yet Hawley highlights one valid claim, that changing election rules, especially when they happen late in the process, smack of gamesmanship and erode confidence in the election system.
That’s not a reason to overturn 2020 results, but it’s something that should be addressed in the future.