TIME magazine suggested the term "election denier" is solely associated with Republicans while publishing a full-throated defense of incoming House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., against GOP attacks.
Jeffries, who is set to succeed Nancy Pelosi as the top Democrat in the House of Representatives ahead of the GOP takeover in January, has been facing intense scrutiny for his past rhetoric casting doubt on the 2016 presidential election, with some Republicans deeming him an "election denier."
During a speech made on the Senate floor this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., slammed Jeffries for calling the 2016 election "illegitimate" and suggesting former President Trump was a "fake president."
The Republican National Committee similarly resurfaced various tweets from Jeffries accusing Trump of "cheating" in the 2016 election with the help of Russian interference, as well as clips of him accusing the Kremlin of "artificially placing" Trump in the White House.
But in a report released Friday, TIME attempted to disassociate Jeffries from the term "election denier," running the headline, "Top Republicans Are Attacking Hakeem Jeffries as an 'Election Denier.' Here's Why That Label Is Misleading."
"In tweets, news interviews, and House hearings, Jeffries called to question the legitimacy of Trump’s election because of Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 race, and accused Trump of colluding with Russia to win the election," TIME wrote. "The term ‘election denier’ has taken on a particular meaning, however, after Trump’s failed re-election campaign. The phrase has come to be associated with Republicans who claim the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, assert without evidence there was fraud in 2020 voting, and cast doubt on secure voting systems—claims that lead to the deadly January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol."
"Calling Jeffries an 'election denier’ is misleading and conflates different issues," the magazine alleged.
TIME then quoted Rachel Orey of the Elections Project at the "nonpartisan" Washington think tank the Bipartisan Policy Center, who said, "Casting unfounded doubt on the outcome of an election is irresponsible when either party does it… But I think it’s important to remember that the culture around elections was quite different before 2020."
It quickly doubled down on dismissing the comparisons between Democrat and Republican election denying.
"Prior to the 2020 election, many Democrats pointed to evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election, the fact that Trump won the Electoral College but did not win the popular vote, and used talking points calling Trump ‘not my President,’" TIME wrote. "But the actions taken by Trump and his supporters leading up to 2020 election and after were unprecedented. Trump stoked false conspiracies of voter fraud, filed more than 60 election-related lawsuits, and pressured officials to interfere with election results. Since then, recent polls have shown that more than half of Republicans believe the 2020 election was stolen."
TIME magazine isn't the only news outlet to frame the term "election denier" to only represent Republicans. Ahead of the 2022 midterms, CBS News released its "criteria" of how it defines "election deniers," saying candidates who do at least one of six listed actions would get the label.
The actions were "questioned legitimacy of Biden's election," "said 2020 election was stolen," "repeated disproven claims of fraud," "signed onto the Texas lawsuit to overturn the 2020 election," "objected to 2020 electoral college count on Jan. 6" as well as "supported 2020 audit."
However, not mentioned in CBS News' "criteria" were any instances of Democrats denying elections won by Republicans in past election cycles.
The most prominent Democrat who may have fall under broadened criteria during the 2022 midterms was Stacey Abrams, the Georgia gubernatorial candidate who infamously never conceded her 2018 defeat against current Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
In 2001, several Democratic lawmakers rejected George W. Bush's electoral college victory in Florida including Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Maxine Waters.
In 2005, 31 Democrats, including Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the Jan. 6 select committee, and Majority Whip James Clyburn challenged President Bush's 2004 victory, particularly in the state of Ohio.
Then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended her colleagues at the time, saying they wanted to discuss the "real problems of the electoral system and the failings of the process in Ohio and elsewhere."
After conceding the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton repeatedly called Trump an "illegitimate president."