Roland Martin Doesn't Call Out DNC Chair for Linking GOP-Backed Voting Requirements With Jim Crow Laws

CNN analyst Roland Martin simply allowed DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to say what she wanted about Republicans on his Sunday show Washington Watch, on TVOne.

Schultz linked Florida GOP-backed voting proposals with Jim Crow laws and poll taxes, and said one has a better chance of being struck by lightning than see an instance of voter fraud. Martin not once challenged Schultz over her rhetoric. Schultz was referring to Republican-backed measures in certain states that require a photo I.D. to vote and trim the number of early-voting days, in order to prevent voter fraud. Schultz hit such policies as discriminatory.

"[N]ow you have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally – and very transparently – block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates," Schultz insisted. After she spoke, Martin briskly moved on to the next question.

The story was picked up by Politico and other online sources, and Schultz retracted her Jim Crow analogy a day later.

Later in the interview, Schultz ridiculously added that "you're more likely to get hit by lightning than you are to see an instance of voter fraud in this country." And again, Martin did not question her assumptions.

At the end of the segment, Schultz was asked about Rep. Anthony Weiner's Twitter fiasco – one day before Weiner called his press conference and revealed that he had lied to the media for a week about the scandal. Schultz called Weiner's situation "a personal matter" and added "that's where it should be left."

A transcript of the segment, which aired on June 5, is as follows:

ROLAND MARTIN: An ongoing effort underway in Republican-controlled state houses across the country, could be another. Republicans are backing measures that will require photo identification and other type of things, including cutting the number of days for early voting. Republicans say it will cut down on voter fraud. Critics contend it's a step backwards, and it would discriminate against the poor, elderly, students, people with disabilities, and minorities. Joining me to explain why Democrats are against this move is the chair of the Democratic National Committee, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. We're glad you're here on Washington Watch.

Rep. DEBBIE WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ (D-Fla.), DNC Chairwoman: Thank you Roland. Great to be here with you.

MARTIN: Your home state – Gov. Rick Scott is leading one of these efforts, and for the life of me, I don't understand whenever I see Republicans or even Democrats contesting votes and things along those lines. We talk about this is the fundamental right to be Americans, but to put roadblocks up to – to – for voting makes no sense to me.

SCHULTZ: Well, I mean if you go back to the year 2000, when we had an
obvious disaster and – and saw that our voting process needed refinement, and we did
that in the America Votes Act and made sure that we could iron out those kinks, now
you have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow
laws and literally – and very transparently – block access to the polls to voters who are
more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates. And it's
nothing short of that blatant.

MARTIN: Now, Georgia has a voter I.D. law that was passed, and the Obama Justice Department – they actually approved that particular law, saying it will not impact minority voters. But other states are looking to – to put into place voter I.D. laws. Your – the DNC’s position on those voter I.D. laws.

SCHULTZ: Well, photo I.D. laws, we think, is – are very similar to a poll tax. I mean you look – just look at African-American voters as a snapshot. About 25 percent of African-American voters don't have a valid photo I.D. I mean – and – and the reason it's similar to a poll tax is because you've got the expense. You've got the effort. There's difficulties for s- -- for many people in getting a photo I.D. So, you're literally just throwing a barrier in the way of someone who's trying to exercise their right to vote. And the reason that it's not necessary is because we already have very legitimate voter verification processes, signature checks that are already in place; and there is so little voter fraud, which is the professed reason the Republicans are
advancing these – these laws. There's so little voter fraud, and I mean you're more likely to get hit by lightning than you are to see an instance of voter fraud in this country, but Republicans are imposing laws all over the country, acting like it's not – voter fraud is rampant, and it's ridiculous.

(...)

SCHULTZ: Rick Scott, the Republican governor of Florida, as part of his election reform law that he just pushed through the legislature, literally said to third party groups who register voters, "We're going to fine you a thousand dollars per voter if you don't turn the voter registration form in within 48 hours of registering that voter."
    
MARTIN: So, if you have some 10,000 folks' names on forms – if it's not turned in [in] 48 hours –

SCHULTZ: That's $10,000 [sic].

MARTIN: – you're looking at a massive, a thousand dollars per voter?

SCHULTZ: Per voter. So, of course, the League of Women Voters said, "We're not registering voters in Florida anymore." A- -- and, look, Roland, there – there are going to be lawsuits over laws that disenfranchise voters and that are deliberately trying to block access to the polls for certain voters. So I mean we – we – we see through what they're trying to do. They say they're trying to prevent voter fraud. There really aren't very many instances of voter fraud, and we're not going to – we're not going to allow it to run roughshod over the electoral process.

MARTIN: I do want to ask you one issue. You and I, we go back and forth on Twitter. We’ve seen this drama with Congressman Anthony Weiner. Do you want him to just give a straight answer? I mean, because part of this deal is we’ve heard multiple, different things here – although he's a member of Congress, it’s a – it' – it's – Twitter. He's saying he was hacked. He's still a public official, and so where do you stand on this in terms of, should he be reporting this as an investigation to the federal authorities if a member of Congress certainly had his Twitter account hacked?

SCHULTZ: I – I think it's a personal matter that Anthony Weiner is dealing with, and that's where it should be left.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014