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May 27, 2008

Volume 2, Number 4


During MSNBC’s live coverage of the May 20 presidential primaries, NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell channeled Democratic “realists” to promote the idea that Republican election officials would try to deny Barack Obama a “fair vote” in November. Mitchell’s suggestion — that Republicans (but not Democrats?) cannot be trusted to run an election — echoes her colleague Keith Olbermann’s embarrassing effort four years ago to dismiss President Bush’s 2004 victory as the byproduct of a sinister scheme involving rigged voting machines in Ohio. [Audio/video (0:42): Windows Media (2.58 MB) and MP3 Audio (197 kB)]

Noting Obama's strategists believe he can win states that previously went Republican, Mitchell raised the counter-argument posed by "realists" working for Hillary Clinton: "Other Clinton loyalists, but realists, say that [Obama's] electoral map is a stretch in one regard: There are, you know, Republican Governors and Secretaries of State, if you will, Katherine Harris-type election officials in those states. So, even though he may have won primaries or caucuses in those states, he has to go up against the establishment, which would be Republican, and he has to figure out a way to get a fair vote if he's the nominee in those red states."

If a Republican campaign had raised such a baseless and paranoid theory about Democratic election officials, journalists would have ridiculed it as a desperate smear rather than promoted it as a realistic analysis. But impugning the GOP as the party of disenfranchisement is evidently a media theme.

On May 23, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who in his 2001 book claimed that Al Gore was the true winner in Florida (even though a media recount determined Bush was the real victor), appeared on PBS's Bill Moyers Journal to decry a new Indiana law requiring that voters show identification at the polls. Toobin condemned it as "a very clear attempt by Republicans to stop Democrats from voting....The fact is, electoral fraud scarcely exists in this country. The real agenda was to help Republicans." [Audio/video (1:11): Windows Media (4.33 MB) and MP3 Audio (313 kB)]

Imagining GOP dirty tricks every four years might soothe liberals who cannot fathom that voters would reject them in a fair election. But supposedly objective journalists should know better than to promote a partisan fairy tale that casts Democrats as perpetual victims of those awful, evil Republicans.

For more, see the May 21 and May 27 CyberAlerts.



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