President Donald Trump’s campaign pushed an altered image of a Washington Times front page to cast doubt on the 2020 election calls made by news outlets. The newspaper never ran the purported front page, declaring Al Gore the winner of the 2000 election.
Numerous news outlets called the 2020 election for former Vice President Joe Biden on Nov. 7 after their projections showed that he had locked in more than the required 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.
But President Donald Trump has refused to concede, and his campaign is pursuing legal challenges to the results. In the meantime, campaign officials have been saying that the media’s call on the race should not be trusted.
The day after Biden declared victory, a Trump campaign official shared a purported front page of the Washington Times on social media to suggest that newspapers published front pages prematurely declaring Democrat Al Gore the winner of the 2000 election.
The image shows a Nov. 8, 2000, Washington Times front page with the bold headline: “PRESIDENT GORE.” Beneath it is a photo of Gore taking an oath (which was taken during his 1993 inauguration as vice president).
After Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s director of communications, tweeted the image and a photo of it plastered around campaign headquarters — as “a reminder that the media doesn’t select the President” — the Washington Times publicly debunked the claim.
“Those photos have been doctored,” the newspaper responded in a tweet. “The Washington Times never ran a ‘President Gore’ headline.”
Murtaugh subsequently deleted his tweet.
Others on Twitter dug up the real front page of the newspaper from that day in 2000, which actually declared “President Bush” the winner.
As readers likely know, Bush won the presidency after securing a victory in Florida by a margin of only 537 votes. Though some networks initially called the state for Gore, they then pulled that call back on election night, before projecting Bush the winner and then rescinding that.
This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here for more.
Bauder, David. “Networks Try To Explain Blown Call.” Associated Press. 8 Nov 2000.
“Biography of Vice President Al Gore.” Clinton White House. Accessed 9 Nov 2020.
Dunleavy, Jerry (@JerryDunleavy). “Here is the fake version shared by @TimMurtaugh & plastered all over Trump campaign HQ vs. what the @WashTimes headline actually looked like.” Twitter. 7 Nov 2020.
Elving, Ron. “The Florida Recount Of 2000: A Nightmare That Goes On Haunting.” NPR. 12 Nov 2018.
Jackson, Brooks. “The Florida Recount of 2000.” FactCheck.org. 22 Jan 2008.
The Washington Times (@WashTimes). “Those photos have been doctored. The Washington Times never ran a ‘President Gore’ headline.” Twitter. 7 Nov 2020.