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Biden Is President, But Some In Rural West Still Cling To False Notion That Trump Won


On the show tonight, we are talking with voters around the country, getting their views on this Inauguration Day. So now we turn to one of the most conservative states in the nation, Idaho, which is where we find NPR correspondent Kirk Siegler.

Hey, Kirk.


KELLY: Where have you been today? Who have you been talking to?

SIEGLER: Well, I've been in - here in southwest Idaho. I've been in a little town named Star. It was rural. There's been a lot of growth lately. Now more of a bedroom community to Boise - lots of retirees moving in, conservative transplants from California, in particular, and a lot of Trump supporters - you know, not a surprise, this being a divided country. And that was fully on display. A lot of people I talked to didn't even watch the inauguration, didn't want to watch it. Some were even going out of their way, running errands during it. I went to the DMV, if that tells you something, where I talked to a guy named Don Johnson. And he was there with a buddy, and they told me, you know, they feel like Trump is still the president. He's still their president, and they're going to keep following him. Let's listen to Don Johnson now.

DON JOHNSON: I've, you know, defended the country for 20 years. And to see it going the way it's going is really disheartening.

KELLY: Kirk, what was your sense of what he meant by that? Where does he see the country going that's disheartening to him?

SIEGLER: Well, Mary Louise, I mean, he thinks it's going to be going to a worse place and that the divisions are going to get worse. You know, President Biden talked to the country today a lot about unity. You know, as we've been reporting, I can tell you I'm not sure people who I talked to here really heard that or believed it. You know, a lot of people in parts of the country like this also believe in conspiracy theories that President Trump couldn't have possibly lost this election, you know? They believe there was widespread fraud. I heard that a lot today, even though more than, you know, 60 courts have ruled otherwise when the Trump campaign lawyers provided no evidence of that. But still, you know, I talked to a voter named George Martin. He was talking to me through his face mask, very concerned about the virus. But, you know, he told me he thinks Facebook and big tech also had a hand in Biden's victory. So let's listen to George Martin now.

GEORGE MARTIN: I have deep-seated beliefs that it was rigged, and I felt that the media played a very big part of it.

SIEGLER: Well, again, Mary Louise, we need to stress, of course, that there's no evidence that this election was rigged.

KELLY: Indeed. I am curious if you would pull back the curtain a little bit for us. As a reporter out talking to, it sounds like, some very conservative voters, were people friendly? Did they want to talk to you?

SIEGLER: Well, some people for sure, like George Martin that you just heard from - friendly and happy to talk. And, you know, I find that's usually the case. I spend a lot of time in small towns like this. But I have to tell you that today, you know, at times, it felt pretty tense, even pretty hostile in some places or more than usual. You know, the former president, I have to - I don't have to tell you, Mary Louise, took pains to discredit us, calling us fake and the enemy in the news media.

KELLY: That's why I was asking. Yeah.

SIEGLER: (Laughter) And, you know, as a result, I think, you have to say there's a lot of disillusionment out here. You know, some folks told me I was from NPR; we're the liberal media. And there's, you know, no point in talking to me because the news media, they'd tell me, spins what conservatives say, you know, even when I say rural, conservative America is my beat for the most part. And I live right here down the road, you know - doesn't matter. You know, I should say this isn't scientific, of course. This was just one slice of one community I spent the day in, Mary Louise. But, you know, it was definitely tense and certainly, unlike in other parts of the country, not a lot of optimism I'm hearing here.

KELLY: A fascinating snapshot of one of the many corners of the country that we're checking in with tonight to see how people are viewing the day's proceedings. NPR's Kirk Siegler in Idaho - thanks, Kirk.

SIEGLER: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As a correspondent on NPR's national desk, Kirk Siegler covers rural life, culture and politics from his base in Boise, Idaho.