The headline coming out of Wednesday’s Hillary Clinton–Donald Trump presidential debate was Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the Nov. 8 election results, following his claims that the process was “rigged.”
In fact, many observers have written, it is Republicans who are “rigging” the election through voter suppression of people of color.
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) October 20, 2016
The 2016 election is the first presidential contest in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act — and the country is witnessing the greatest rollback of voting rights since the act was passed five decades ago, as Ari Berman, contributing writer for the Nation and author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America,” has written.
Those observers don’t include only journalists. As Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow reported in July for the Washington Post, U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson wrote of Wisconsin’s voter ID law, “The evidence in this case casts doubt on the notion that voter ID laws foster integrity and confidence.
“The Wisconsin experience demonstrates that a preoccupation with mostly phantom election fraud leads to real incidents of disenfranchisement, which undermine rather than enhance confidence in elections, particularly in minority communities. To put it bluntly, Wisconsin’s strict version of voter ID law is a cure worse than the disease.”
[Green Party candidate Jill Stein made the same point about voter suppression in commenting on the debate Thursday on “Democracy Now!”]
GOP footprints on voter suppression run deep. Paul Waldman, a senior writer at the American Prospect, wrote Monday in the Post, “How is it possible that the Republican nominee for president would be able to convince so many people that the voting will be rigged? Maybe it’s because conservative media figures and Republican politicians have for years been saying that ACORN, an organization that was focused in part on registering poor people to vote, was in the business of stealing elections.
“Indeed, even though ACORN went out of business in 2010, for years afterward Republicans continued to insert provisions into spending bills banning the group from receiving federal money. A group that no longer existed. After the 2012 election, half of Republicans said in one poll that they believed this non-existent organization stole the election for [President] Obama.
“If you’re wondering why when he’s in Pennsylvania, Trump will tell his nearly all-white audiences to watch the polls in ‘certain areas,’ look no further than Fox News’ extraordinary campaign to convince its viewers that a 2008 incident in Philadelphia — in which a couple of knuckleheads from the New Black Panther Party stood outside a polling place glaring menacingly at voters — was a crime on par with the Rape of Nanking or the Armenian genocide.
“In one two-week period in 2010, Megyn Kelly did 45 separate segments on the New Black Panther case, despite the fact that George W. Bush’s Justice Department decided it was too trivial to merit any criminal charges. . . .”
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, has played a part. Sophia Tesfaye wrote Monday for Salon, “Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence is being applauded for publicly rebuking his running mate Donald Trump’s repeated claims of a ‘rigged’ election, yet what’s gone under the radar is that [the] Indiana governor may be allowing voter suppression in his own state.
“On Sunday when Pence appeared on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation,’ host John Dickerson asked him about Trump’s claims that the election is ‘absolutely rigged’ and his calls for supporters to closely monitor polling places for voter fraud. ‘I don’t think any American should ever attempt to make any other American nervous’ when voting, Pence responded.
“Dickerson did not question Pence, however, about why Indiana State Police recently seized 45,000 voter-registration applications, most of them from black voters. So while viewers may have given Pence credit for seeming relatively reasonable compared with his running mate, alleged voter suppression in his own backyard went largely unnoticed amid the hoopla over Trump’s hysterical claims. . . .”
Berman wrote Monday for the Nation, “Trump is pouring gasoline on a fire his own party created.
“The GOP’s voter-fraud crusade dates back to the 2000 election in Florida. That year, the state of Florida wrongly purged thousands of voters from the rolls, as I reported in a Nation excerpt from my book Give Us the Ballot. . .
” ‘The NAACP sued Florida after the election for violating the Voting Rights Act (VRA). As a result of the settlement, the company that the Florida legislature entrusted with the purge — the Boca Raton-based Database Technologies (DBT) — ran the names on its 2000 purge list using stricter criteria. The exercise turned up 12,000 voters who shouldn’t have been labeled felons. That was 22 times Bush’s 537-vote margin of victory.’
” ‘No one could ever determine precisely how many voters who were incorrectly labeled felons were turned away from the polls. But the US Civil Rights Commission launched a major investigation into the 2000 election fiasco, and its acting general counsel, Edward Hailes, did the math the best that he could.
“If 12,000 voters were wrongly purged from the rolls, and 44 percent of them were African-American, and 90 percent of African-Americans voted for [Democrat Al] Gore, that meant 4,752 black Gore voters — almost nine times Bush’s margin of victory — could have been prevented from voting. It’s not a stretch to conclude that the purge cost Gore the election. . . .”
Kevin Baker, Maureen Dowd, Roxane Gay, Susan Chira, Emily Bazelon, Will Wilkinson, Arthur C. Brooks, Wajahat Ali, Andrew Rosenthal, Teresa Tritch, Ioan Grillo, Anna North, Paul Krugman, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Carol Giacomo, Mark Schmitt, Katha Pollitt, Zeynep Tufekci, Elizabeth Williamson, Peter Wehner, New York Times: What We Saw in the Final Debate
Mary C. Curtis, Roll Call: Wednesday’s Presidential Debate: A Reality TV Show Gone Bad
Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Washington Post: Fact-checking the third Clinton-Trump presidential debate
Anti-Semitic Tweets Hit Jewish Journalists
“Nearly 20,000 anti-Semitic tweets have been directed at more than 800 journalists since the 2016 presidential campaign began, often because those journalists voiced critical opinions about Donald Trump, the Anti-Defamation League said Wednesday,” Dylan Byers reported for CNN Money.
“The anti-Semitic Twitter attacks, which have increased as the campaign has gone on, represent what the ADL describes in a new report as a ‘disturbing’ and ‘execrable’ trend.
” ‘There is evidence that a considerable number of the anti-Semitic tweets targeting journalists originate with people identifying themselves as Trump supporters, ‘conservatives’ or extreme right-wing elements,” the ADL report states.
“While the ADL is careful to note that Trump did not support these tweets, the group says he ‘may have contributed to an environment in which reporters were targeted’ because of his anti-media rhetoric, which has included labeling reporters ‘absolute scum’ and saying that while he did not want to kill reporters, he did ‘hate them.’
“The ADL says that of the 2.6 million tweets containing anti-Semitic language between August 2015 and July 2016, the top 10 most targeted journalists (all of whom are Jewish) received 83 percent of them.
“Julia Ioffe, a Washington-based journalist, received tweets that referred to her using slurs and said ‘Back to the Ovens!’ after she wrote a profile of Melania Trump for GQ.
“Jonathan Weisman, an editor at The New York Times, was sent images of ovens and of himself wearing Nazi ‘Juden’ stars after tweeting about casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s support for Trump, and after making note of the responses to Ioffe’s article.
“Hadas Gold, a reporter at Politico, recently received an image of herself wearing a Nazi ‘Juden’ star with a bullet hole in her head because she had been critical of Trump. . . .”
Byers also wrote, “Asked to comment on the ADL’s report, a Twitter spokesperson said the company would be introducing new safety improvements in the weeks ahead. . . .”
Anna North, New York Times: What It’s Like to Fight Online Hate
Julie Zauzmer, Washington Post: In 2016, people have read anti-Semitic tweets 10 billion times, many from Trump supporters
Debate Renewed Over Journalists’ Politics
“The Center for Public Integrity has issued a report claiming to detail how ‘journalists’ have donated to Hillary Clinton’s campaign far more than to Donald Trump’s,” Terry Krepel wrote Tuesday for Huffington Post.
The report [PDF] became a talking point for the Trump campaign in the post-debate analysis Wednesday night, as Trump and his surrogates charged media bias.
The report Monday said, “In all, people identified in federal campaign finance filings as journalists, reporters, news editors or television news anchors — as well as other donors known to be working in journalism — have combined to give more than $396,000 to the presidential campaigns of Clinton and Trump, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis.
“Nearly all of that money — more than 96 percent — has benefited Clinton: About 430 people who work in journalism have, through August, combined to give about $382,000 to the Democratic nominee, the Center for Public Integrity’s analysis indicates.
“About 50 identifiable journalists have combined to give about $14,000 to Trump. . . .”
However, Krepel wrote, “But if you read the report closely — which the right-wing media has no interest in doing — it’s obvious that CPI is using an overly broad definition of ‘journalist.’
“The star finding, usually cited in right-wing stories on the report, is that former ABC anchor Carole Simpson has donated $2,800 to Clinton. What CPI doesn’t make clear: Simpson left ABC in 2006 and currently works as a college professor.
“Insisting that Simpson continue to be held to the standards of a job she has not held for a decade — CPI offers no evidence that Simpson made any political donations while employed as a journalist — is simply dishonest. . . .”
Simpson would certainly agree.
She told Journal-isms by email, “When I worked for CBS, NBC and ABC as a broadcast journalist, there was never any doubt in my mind that giving money, campaigning, or wearing political buttons was strictly forbidden. A clause was even in our contracts that this behavior was grounds for reprimand and even firing. The restriction was understandable. Reporters are to be objective at all times because to be trusted, the public should have confidence that you are not biased.
“But I retired 10 years ago from reporting the news and became an academician. I have been teaching at Emerson College since 2007. Hillary was a friend and someone who could potentially become the first female president of the United States. I was invited to a fundraiser and accepted. I believe that since I am no longer a working journalist, I should be able to exercise my political rights like every other citizen[,] have the same political rights as any other citizen . . . not in journalism.
The center’s report also cited ESPN’s Claire Smith. “At ESPN, baseball news editor Claire Smith has made numerous small-dollar contributions to Clinton’s campaign that add up to almost $600. Smith, who in a tweet last week described Trump as a ‘would-be dictator & sexual predator,’ did not return requests for comment, and ESPN spokesman Ben Cafardo declined to comment.
“But ESPN’s political advocacy policy states that employees such as Smith ‘must avoid being publicly identified with various sides of political issues’ and that the sports network ‘discourages public participation in matters of political advocacy or controversy among editorial employees.’ . . .”
Cafardo referred Journal-isms to the political advocacy policy. Smith messaged Journal-isms on Thursday, “There is no issue of a policy violation. That much is clear, as affirmed by the company for which I proudly work. ”
Don’t forget to vote on Nov. 35th, Trumpsters!
— Claire Smith (@MzCSmith) October 16, 2016
The issue of journalists’ support for candidates comes up every presidential election cycle.
In 2007, Bill Dedman wrote for MSNBC.com:
“Also out: an editorial cartoonist who said he didn’t ‘give a rat’s ass’ about his newspaper’s policy on campaign contributions by journalists.
“And one newspaper has dropped the syndicated column ‘The Ethicist’ by New York Times writer Randy Cohen because of his donation to MoveOn.org, which he said he had thought of as ‘nonpartisan.’ . . .”
Cooper Allen, USA Today: Trump gets a rare newspaper endorsement
Ben Collins, Daily Beast: Student: Jerry Falwell Jr. Axed Anti-Trump Story from Liberty University’s School Newspaper
Joe Davidson, Washington Post: Two federal unions cling to Trump, despite everything
Adam Johnson, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting: ‘Nothing to See Here’ Is Pundit Takeaway on DNC Leaks
James Kirchick, Daily News, New York: Black voters vs. populism: Why African-Americans so powerfully resisted the siren song of Donald Trump — and before him, Bernie Sanders
Errol Louis, Daily News, New York: What Donald Trump should say now: Follow the examples of Teddy Kennedy and Arnold Schwarzenegger
Andrés Oppenheimer, Miami Herald: Trump’s Republican Party must regain its moral compass, or dissolve (Oct. 13)
Media Matters for America: Maddow Highlights Trump Campaign Hiring The Man Behind Fox News’ New Black Panther Party Obsession
Benjamin Mullin, Poynter Institute: Report: Voters want journalists to fact-check Trump and Clinton
Mark Joseph Stern, Slate: The GOP Created the “Rigged Vote” Myth
Doug Tsuruoka, Asia Times: Asian American discrimination will outlast the election
Erik Wemple, Washington Post: People magazine follow-up raises question: Why did it publish Trump puff piece?