Is the mainstream media allergic to the truth?
Over the last few months, the National Center has been analyzing and reporting on state-level voter ID laws. We have done so with objectivity and thoughtful legal analysis. The same cannot be said of the media elites in this country.
They are misleading the public. And they are either doing so out of ignorance, malice or both.
Seemingly taking their marching orders from the Obama White House and Attorney General Eric Holder, the media echoes claims that voter ID laws are poll taxes, Jim Crow laws, voter suppression measures and are racist. In recent months, tens of thousands of articles have been foisted on the public – all with this same false narrative.
As I researched and read through legions of media reports and advocacy efforts about voter ID laws, I was not surprised to find a progressive slant, but I was appalled at their legal understanding of the issue. Or should I say, lack of understanding.
In almost every article discussing the new wave of voter ID legislation passed in recent years, there exists a near total blackout regarding the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case Crawford v. Marion, where the American Civil Liberties Union challenged an Indiana voter ID law. The Court voted 6 to 3 to uphold the Indiana law as a constitutional, commonsense measure to protect against voter fraud.
In his majority opinion, liberal Justice John Paul Stevens explained that “[t]here is no question about the legitimacy or importance of the State’s interest in counting only the votes of eligible voters… the inconvenience of making a trip to the BMV, gathering the required documents, and posing for a photograph surely does not qualify as a substantial burden on the right to vote.” Stevens said that Indiana’s voter ID law was “unquestionably relevant to the State’s interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.”
The Court even said that law was constitutional despite the fact that Indiana did not produce specific in-person fraud, and that the law was passed with some partisan motivation. Stevens pointed out that voter fraud has a long history in America and that if:
a nondiscriminatory law is supported by valid neutral justifications, those justifications should not be disregarded simply because partisan interests may have provided one motivation for the votes of individual legislators.
So when the media claim that new voter ID laws are invalid since voter fraud cases are allegedly rare and some voter ID laws passed on partisan lines – that simply isn’t true.
In every voter ID case currently being challenged in state or federal court Crawford is either a binding precedent or extremely persuasive.
In almost all respects, the new voter ID laws passed by democratically-elected officials in Texas, South Carolina and Pennsylvania are substantially similar to the Indiana law the Supreme Court validated. An objective journalist reporting on any current state-level voter ID law must compare that law with Indiana’s, and – if they want to attack the law (which should really be left to an opinion page) – they must distinguish the two. But they almost never do. As far as the media seems to be concerned, Crawford doesn’t exist.
Unsubstantiated liberal rhetoric is par for the course for today’s media elites, but willfully dismissing clear U.S. Supreme Court precedent that is inconvenient to their narrative is beyond the pale. (At least with Citizens United, the left normally attacks the case before going off the rails.)
To augment my own anecdotal observations, and get to the bottom of the media’s depravity, I decided to have a little fun with Google search terms.
On August 15th, I searched Google news for a few different items. First, I simply searched for “voter ID laws.” Google news returned 27,700 results. Clearly voter ID is a prominent news story of local and national significance.
Next, I refined the search seeking “voter ID laws Crawford v. Marion.” I expected to get somewhere less than 27,700, but I was floored when my search returned only 31 hits. That’s right; of all the talk on voter ID laws only 31 results in Google news mentioned a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that established the law on this issue.
I further clicked on the “all news” button on the top cluster of articles, and it revealed only eight primary sources discussing voter ID that also mentioned Crawford.
That result was even more amazing.
Of the eight results, the National Center’s Voter ID Task Force directly produced two, and one referenced National Center work. The first was a blog I wrote regarding the ACLU’s legal challenge to Pennsylvania’s voter ID law (which the ACLU lost), the second was a paper by National Center adjunct fellow Horace Cooper (noting that poor and disadvantaged individuals are the most likely to have their votes stolen) and the third was an Epoch Times article that quotes me from a press release about Pennsylvania’s voter ID law.
So outside of the National Center, almost no one is willing to explain the true history and legal precedent that back new voter ID laws.
So, if not the truth, what is the media selling? Race wars and rhetoric, that’s what.
The next Google news search I entered was “voter ID laws racist,” which yielded 4,540 results. So the media unnecessarily infuses race into voter ID stories 145.5 times more often than they report on binding legal doctrine. While some of these articles are likely defending voter ID laws against charges of racism, the results are nonetheless instructive on the media’s wayward focus on the voter integrity issue.
And it gets worse.
A search for “voter ID laws Jim Crow” yielded 761 results – 24 times more than Crawford is mentioned.
Political and policy discourse in this country is often lamented as being divisive and nasty. It certainly is when it comes to voter integrity measures. And there is a clear culprit – the progressive media.
Back in July, Huffington Post Senior Washington Correspondent Dan Froomkin implored journalists to ditch objectivism and attack conservatives who support voter ID measures. Froomkin, who was “terminated” from the Washington Post not long into Barack Obama’s presidency (possibly because his primary skill was bashing former President George W. Bush), claimed that:
The GOP has taken increasingly radical positions, confident that the media’s aversion to taking sides will protect it from too much negative coverage. But failing to call out the voter ID push is like covering the civil rights movements and treating ‘separate but equal’ as if it was said with sincerity.
Apparently Froomkin missed the boat. The media largely ditched impartiality about voter ID long ago. They are on his side. Most journalists are pressing the false racial narrative of Attorney General Holder and demonizing voter integrity at every turn.
It would seem that the mainstream media does not want the public to know the truth about voter ID laws because it does not fit with their narrative of pushing liberal agendas and promoting liberal politicians. But, as the media so often does, they are underestimating the American public.
In a recent Washington Post poll, nearly 75 percent of Americans said they support voter ID laws. Clearly, the media efforts to demonize these commonsense voter protection measures have failed.
Since the media are derelict in their duty, they despise us here at the National Center for doing their work for them. For standing up for voter ID laws, commonsense and the Constitution, the left has vilified National Center work and our staff. But don’t worry. We are not backing down.
The hatred, smears, attacks and libel spewed by the likes of Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton and Dan Froomkin only strengthen our resolve. An old saying goes “stand for what’s right even if you are standing alone.” Well we are standing up, but we are not alone. We have the Constitution, the rule of law, commonsense and the American people with us.
The mainstream media has only themselves and their race-baiting allies in the Obama Administration.
I like our chances.