MSNBC Drags Up Tired GOP ‘War on Voting’ Agenda to Close Out 2013

There are a lot of things that MSNBC claims that the GOP is engaged in a “war” on. Whether it’s a “war on women” or a “war on voting,” the folks at MSNBC can’t seem to go a day without finding something to smear conservatives.

Take Thomas Roberts on December 30, who during his 11:00 a.m. show announced “The biggest blow to voting rights this year was the Supreme Court's decision striking down a key piece of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” In typical fashion, he brought on two liberal guests to slam the GOP over the MSNBC-labeled “war on voting” -- Ben Jealous, former head of the NAACP, and Mark Morial, the president of the National Urban League. The guests doubled down on the MSNBC line.

Roberts continued the network's campaign against states enacting new voting laws, such as North Carolina, which he said, “Passed the nation's most restrictive voting law.” Roberts never bothered to explain what made the law restrictive other than liberals claiming they are restrictive. It's always a racist conspiracy, never an attempt to preserve the integrity of the vote.

Without making his guest explain or defend his claims, Roberts allowed Jealous to argue that new voting laws are “put in place to make it very hard for working people who are disproportionately people of color in that state to get out and vote…. The good news is that we're winning in more states than they are, but the bad news is that where they have won, as with this law, they are rolling the clock back.”

Roberts then hyped an MSNBC.com piece highlighting the, “the top five villains and heroes of the year” and then asked Mark Morial, “Accurately, who would you say is the -- who's been most, I guess, heavy-handed in setting back voting rights?” Roberts had no hesitation labeling legislators who have pushed to institute new voting integrity laws as individuals who have been “accurately…heavy-handed in setting back voting rights.”

Nowhere in the segment did the MSNBC host bother to ask his guests to provide any evidence of an individual who has been prevented from voting as a result of new voting laws.

For MSNBC, this segment isn’t about having a fair debate on the merits of voting laws in America, but rather to scare their audience into thinking the GOP wants to prevent minorities from voting. Instead of talking to a conservative or playing quotes of conservatives defending new voter laws, Roberts chose to quote liberal activist Robert Kuttner, co-founder of The American Prospect, to push the network’s agenda, “A new freedom summer could reverse the impact of the attempted voter suppression and mobilize voters.” 

 

See relevant transcript below.


MSNBC

MSNBC Live

December 30, 2013

11:46 a.m. Eastern

THOMAS ROBERTS: 2013 marked a turning point for voting rights on the state level, and next year we could see a showdown on the federal level. Eight states passed laws restricting voting rights in 2013 and similar legislation was introduced in over a dozen other states. Now the biggest blow to voting rights this year was the Supreme Court's decision striking down a key piece of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Since then, North Carolina passed the nation's most restrictive voting law and the Justice Department is suing North Carolina and Texas and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and are also facing challenges to their laws which have yet to go into effect. Joining me now Ben Jealous, political analyst and former president of the NAACP and the National Urban League President Mark Morial. Gentleman, it’s great to have you here. Ben, let me start with you. Because earlier this month, we had a federal judge announcing the trial over North Carolina's law won't take place until 2015. So when we do the math on that, it's well after the 2014 election. Though advocates are pushing for an injunction. How confident are you that opponents can get an injunction before the midterms? 

BEN JEALOUS: You know, look, we'll push and there's reason to be hopeful. But at the same time the courts are sort of very conservative and so there is reason to be concerned here. And it's -- look, this is a law that cut early voting, killed same-day registration, killed the preregistration of 16 and 17-year-olds and requires photo ID This law was put in place to make it very hard for working people who are disproportionately people of color in that state to get out and vote. And, you know, this is the type of thing that, quite frankly, we wouldn't have to deal with if the Supreme Court hadn't gutted Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. And so Tom we are dealing with this across the country right now. The good news is that we're winning in more states than they are, but the bad news is that where they have won, as with this law, they are rolling the clock back.

ROBERTS: All right. So, Mark, on MSNBC.com right now we've got Zachary Roth rating the top five villains and heroes of the year. For voting rights villains the list reads Chief Justice John Roberts for the Supreme Court ruling, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Ohio Governor John Kasich. Accurately, who would you say is the -- who's been most, I guess, heavy handed in setting back voting rights? 

MARK MORIAL: You know, Thomas, the Supreme Court decision striking down Section 4 is perhaps the most egregious step because it disabled a very important tool that's been in place since 1965, and a tool which has yielded much fairer voting practices all across the nation. So to a great extent what the Chief Justice in his majority decision did was in effect send a signal to many, many states that the gates are now open for what I would call extreme oppressive voter suppression laws. So that decision, what that points to is an absolute need for the Congress and the president to pass a new provision of the Voting Rights Act that restores the protections of Section 5. I also think that it requires, and the Attorney General should be given credit for this, for action to be taken under the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act. I'd point out that the Justice Department just hired Pam Karlan, one of the nation's most talented voting rights lawyers, to assist in this effort. So this is going to be a fight. It's going to be a continuing fight not only by activists, but I think with the Justice Department fulfilling its responsibility as a protector of the constitution and the vote. 

ROBERTS: So, Ben, we've got Robert Kuttner co-founder of The American Prospect writing for the Huffington Post the need for the freedom summer of 2014 saying, quote, and a new freedom summer could reverse the impact of the attempted voter suppression and mobilize voters. Do you think that could be useful? This door to door broad-based movement to get people registered. Getting ID cards to those eligible voters?

JEALOUS: You know that is the only thing that can turn back the tide. And we saw this in 2012. You had states like Florida who put in very restrictive voter registration laws, laws that said that if you had a form out of the office, a voters registration form for more than 48 hours, you were facing jail time and/or a very big fine. Our volunteers at the -- showed up there the Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Day holiday 2012 and sheriffs across the state were threatening to put them in jail. But they signed up more than 120,000 people to vote and that's why the president could win by 60,000 votes. The only way to fight back is to do a door to door signing up people to vote, making sure they get their ID’s and showing the right wing that we will not be -- we will not have the clocks turned back on us.  

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.