Case Number: 2969

Council Meeting: NOVEMBER 2020

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Ruling Categories: Accuracy


In Robin McCarthy’s view, expressed in his complaint, Joe Biden was not the President of the United States; not the president elect of the United States; had not been declared President of the United States; had not been inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States; Donald Trump had not ceded defeat for Joe Biden to become President of the United States; Joe Biden was a contender for President of the United States.

Stuff was therefore engaging in pure speculation, deliberate lies and pushing a wishful political outcome in its coverage. This was the worst kind of journalism imaginable, Mr McCarthy said.

In response Stuff said that given that Mr Biden had amassed the 270 electoral college votes required to be elected president they thought they were on safe ground. He was not merely a contender. The vote had been counted and he had won the election.

To put it in context, Mr McCarthy’s complaint was lodged with Stuff on November 8 and with the Media Council on November 9. The complaint did not include any examples of the material complained about.

However, even at that stage, the current electoral college vote count was sufficient to say that Biden had the numbers, had won the election, and was therefore president-elect. Stuff was not inaccurate in its reporting.

Furthermore, there was other reporting on the claims of electoral fraud from Trump and his supporters, the dates of inauguration and recounts etc, so the public was informed on those matters too.

Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed.