The Right-Wing Pundits Fueling Trumpists’ Hope in the Farcical Arizona ‘Audit’

Newsmax correspondent Emerald Robinson (Image from Newsmax report on "election integrity" posted to YouTube Dec. 1, 2020)

Right-wing pundits and other supporters of former President Donald Trump have pinned their hopes for vindication of Trump’s stolen-election claims on a bogus partisan “audit” of votes in Arizona’s Maricopa County. The “audit,” which is being conducted by so-called “Stop the Steal” activists under contract from Republican state Senate leaders, has received endless right-wing media hype, with social media personalities eager to spread mis- and disinformation about its supposed revelations.

Just eight right-wing accounts that actively spread disinformation about the 2020 presidential election are responsible for almost one-quarter of all Twitter engagements on the Arizona “audit,” according to the nonprofit research group Advance Democracy, Inc., which analyzed Twitter engagements with more than 215,000 tweets mentioning the Arizona audit between April 1 and June 19.

The account that generated the most audit-related engagement belongs to Newsmax correspondent Emerald Robinson, followed by right-wing activist Candace Owens, former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos, and the Arizona Republican Party. Other right-wing accounts in the top 10 producers of audit-related Twitter engagement include far-right online personalities Matt Couch and Alex Sheppard, former reality TV contestant Anna Khait, and Trump supporter Juanita Broaddrick.

Reporters have documented the flawed and farcical nature of the “audit” being conducted by a company called Cyber Ninjas—which went so far as to order audit volunteers to hunt for bamboo fibers in search of ballots produced in China—as well as the dangers it poses to public understanding and confidence in elections and election procedures. As Right Wing Watch has noted many times before, there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

“It’s a threat to the overall confidence of democracy, all in pursuit of continuing a narrative that we know to be a lie,” former Department of Homeland Security official Matt Masterson told NPR in June.

NPR’s own analysis of social media engagement found that “the 10 most popular stories about the ‘audit’ on social media were all published by conservative publications, many of which have also pushed the false idea that Trump may be the rightful president.”

As Right Wing Watch noted earlier this month, the Arizona audit site has attracted right-wing legislators from other battleground states lost by Trump, whose supporters have joined him in pressuring Republican officials in those states to launch their own farcical “audits.”

Arizona’s secretary of state, Democrat Katie Hobbs, has criticized the Arizona effort, calling it a  “fraudit,”as have some Arizona Republicans.