New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt warned conservative media was playing with fire by pushing baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud.
President Donald Trump's legal challenges have been shot down over and over in state after state, and even his own lawyers have repeatedly admitted in court that they can't prove any fraud has occurred, but conservative media outlets continue to claim the election was stolen and Republicans have refused to concede that Joe Biden won.
"We have waited the entire Trump story for the norms to sort of just kick in, and I'm less convinced that they're just going to kick in here at the end at the most dramatic part of the story," Schmidt told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
Schmidt doesn't think Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani will be able to overturn the election results through legal means, but is instead hoping to create enough uncertainty to sustain the conservative media narrative.
"Giuliani sees that as his next best bet," Schmidt said. "He doesn't have a lot of great cards to play, but if he can undermine that process and throw anything in the gears of that, that's their only shot going forward. It's clear that these recounts and these claims of voter fraud are not going to move the needle, so that's just simply the next point where they can try and do something, and to try to continue to undermine the result here."
Conservative media are pushing inflammatory content that could destabilize democracy, he said, and that appears to be the goal.
"But I think that at a broader level, you know, a lot of folks will say, well, this isn't going anywhere and it doesn't mean anything, and I think that's totally true," Schmidt said. "But at the same time, they're taking the president's base on Fox News every night or OAN or Newsmax, wherever they're watching, and they're dipping them in the lighter fluid of this voter fraud story for several weeks, and, look, I'm not saying that Donald Trump's base was ever going to, like, accept Joe Biden as president or look at things normally, but it will only make things worse as we go forward here in the fact that this notion is being pumped out to them every night, I think, is something that we are going to be unspooling for many, many, many months, if not longer to come."