MSNBC's Roberts Attacks Florida Noncitizen Voter 'Purge' in Error-laden Softball Interviews with Liberal Activists

It's the Monday after a woefully disappointing unemployment/jobs report and the day before the Wisconsin recall looks likely to blow up in Democrats' face. You're MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts. How do you rally the Democratic base? It's as simple to turning to an old network standby: blasting those dastardly Republicans for "voter suppression" efforts.

On two programs today -- Roberts's 11 a.m. EDT MSNBC Live and filling in at 2 p.m. EDT on Tamron Hall's NewsNation -- Roberts treated viewers to softball interviews with liberal activists who bemoaned a voter "purge" in Florida.


"Florida's Gov. Rick Scott is vowing to keep purging people suspected of being ineligible to vote from Florida's rolls despite a warning from the federal government," Roberts noted as he introduced Judith Browne Dianis of the liberal Advancement Project.

Neither Roberts nor Browne Dianis informed viewers that Florida elections officials give suspected noncitizen voters "30 days from the receipt of the letter to provide documentation of citizenship" to keep their names on voter rolls, as the Miami Herald reported. What's more, noted the Herald last Tuesday, in Miami-Dade County:

...359 voters have provided proof that they are citizens. The county determined on its own that an additional 26 were citizens, while 10 others either admitted they were ineligible or requested to be removed.

So there were, in fact, noncitizens who were on the voter rolls who have since been removed as a result of the state's vigilance, a fact that was also missing from Roberts's interview with Browne Dianis.

Besides failing to challenge her assertion that Florida's Gov. Scott is a "foe of democracy" engaged in a campaign of "voter suppression," Roberts also let Browne Dianis deceive viewers when she charged that Florida removed from voter rolls "a 91-year-old citizen" and "World War II" veteran who was "taken off the rolls."

In fact, that 91-year-old veteran, Bill Internicola, proved his citizenship and is securely on the voter rolls, something that the Miami Herald reported last week. What's more, Internicola probably raised red flags with the state because his driver's license listed his date-of-birth two years earlier than the date listed on his voter registration file, as I've noted previously on NewsBusters.

Three hours later, subbing for Tamron Hall on NewsNation, Roberts turned to another representative from the liberal Advancement Project, Penda Hair for another softball chat.

In a segment entitled "Voter Injustice," Hair insisted that there was "no evidence that there are any noncitizens on the voting rolls of Florida." Roberts let Hair's assertion go uncontested. Once again, that's patently false. As the June 1 South Florida Sentinel reported (emphasis mine):

Miami-Dade had removed 13 people who admitted they weren't citizens. And Broward had received notice from only three people that they were not U.S. citizens.

That's at least 16 people off the rolls who should not have been on them in the first place.

To her credit, unlike Browne Dianis, Hair noted that suspected noncitizens have 30 days to reply to the inquiry from the board of elections to contest removal from voter rolls.

In neither the 11 a.m. nor 2 p.m. programs did Roberts bring on a defender of Florida's so-called purge, nor did he promise to work to get such a perspective on the air, even though he promised viewers in the 11 a.m. hour that the June 5 program would feature "one of those voters who was unfairly purged" from the Sunshine State's voter rolls.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters