Scarborough Blasts Media 'Lap Dogs' on Obama's 'Voter Suppression' Meme

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough scolded the media on Friday’s Morning Joe, claiming mainstream outlets acted as “lap dogs” to the Obama administration’s messaging on voter ID proposals during the 2012 election. Scarborough also pushed back against his liberal panel’s repeated attempts to connect voter ID laws to actual instances of racist voter suppression in the 1960s Jim Crow South.

The discussion came in wake of the Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday morning to overturn Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which required certain states, mostly southern, to pre-clear any changes to voting laws with the Department of Justice. Josh Green, of Bloomberg Businessweek, shared a Friday column in which he suggested the main purpose of voter ID laws were to “limit access to the polls” for minority voters. Scarborough pushed back on Green’s claims:

When I hear my dear friend Al Sharpton comparing the changing of early voting to what happened with Bull Connor in Birmingham and the south – John Lewis loves to do that all the time, too, and John is a good friend of mine, but you know, or a voter – telling somebody they have to bring a photo ID to the voting booth, and comparing that to the poll taxes or comparing that to the literacy test, or comparing that to the outrageous, hateful, despicable things that took place before 1965 – they lose me. And I think they lose most of the American people...

But the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson was eager to back up Green’s claims, arguing that voter ID proposals arise when “Republicans lose some races they don’t want to lose” and that “there is no such problem” as voter fraud. The problem for Green and Robinson is twofold.

First, many voter ID efforts – such as those in Virginia – provide voters lacking identification with a photo ID free of charge and with “very, very limited documentation.” Virginia also left more than a year for voters to obtain an ID, making sure the law did not go into effect until the November 2014 elections.

Secondly, an overwhelming majority of Americans support voter ID measures. A 2011 Rasmussen poll found that 75 percent of likely voters support a photo ID requirement at the polls, including 63 percent of Democrats. Further, a 2013 SurveysUSA North Carolina poll found that 75 percent of state residents – including 59 percent of Democrats, 56 percent of African-Americans, and an overwhelming 97 percent of Hispanics – “strongly” or “somewhat” supported a photo ID requirement.

But the liberals on Morning Joe kept peddling the Obama administration line of voter suppression. After Scarborough correctly pointed out that African-American and Hispanic voter turnout reached record highs in 2012, Green fumed:

Because you had a Justice Department step in and block voter ID laws, like the one that Texas tried to impose. And now, after the [Supreme] Court decision on Tuesday, [Texas] has announced it's going to turn around, it’s going to go ahead and do [the voter ID law].

Firebrand Donny Deutsch took it one step further, claiming no difference between voter ID proposals and racist voter suppression in the 1960s:

DEUTSCH: And I think the [Supreme] Court decision – you can link it back to those other horrific voter suppressions, because the motives were the same. Obviously not as dastardly, but the motive was to limit minority turnout.

SCARBOROUGH: Donny, that's just not true.

DEUTSCH: Of course it is.

Scarborough later criticized his guests and the media for putting “that presumption in people’s heads” and following the Obama administration on the voter ID issue “like lap dogs.”

Despite the host’s harsh words, Green, Ford Jr. and Deutsch still kept on Republicans, with the former two guests incorrectly asserting that a Pennsylvania Republican had openly claimed to want to suppress the minority vote:

FORD, JR.: But Joe, in these – in some of these states, these secretaries of states that are equivalent specifically said, the reason we're doing this is to try to limit the number of black and Hispanic voters. The guy said that. True motive. True motive. If the intent was that –       

GREEN: The guy in Pennsylvania said that. He said we’re going to hand the election to Mitt Romney with these laws. You tell me that the motivation isn't political for Republicans pushing these laws at the state level?

But Ford, Jr. and Green are completely wrong. The incident in question involved Pennsylvania State House Republican Leader Mike Turzai, who claimed in June 2012 that voter ID laws would “allow” Mitt Romney to win the state in November. While not the most appropriate statement, Turzai did not suggest the motive behind voter ID was to suppress minority voters. In fact, Turzai’s office later asserted he was referring to the decrease in voter fraud that photo ID laws seek to achieve.

Ford, Jr. even doubled down later, reasserting that the Pennsylvania attorney general said he wanted to “stop black and brown people from voting Democrat” in Pennsylvania.

Scarborough didn’t the challenge the claim – most likely because he didn’t have the facts in front of him as we do here – but he did, again, push back. The host called out the liberal panel for thinking, “because there’s a jackass in Pennsylvania, that every Republican who believes” in photo ID wants to suppress minority voters.

The conversation actually continued for several minutes. No matter, though, as it appears liberals like Green, Ford Jr. and Deutsch will continue to buy into the false notion that asking for a photo ID at the polls is akin to the horrible suppression practices of the 1960s.

See the relevant transcript below:


MSNBC
Morning Joe
June 28, 2013
6:49 a.m. Eastern

JOSH GREEN: Tuesday, you had the Voting Rights Act decision, strikes it down on its face. Good news for Republicans, they aren't blocked from these voter ID laws. The problem is, that forces to the frontburner the issue of disenfranchising voters, which is what a lot of these laws do. And if you, as the GOP, are trying to broaden your appeal to minorities, and what's happening at the state level is a series of laws that limit the ability of black and Latino people to vote, that shrink early voting times, the message you're sending is we don't want you in our party. Dick Armey had a great line, you can't call her ugly all year and then invite her to the prom.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Right.

GREEN: You can't limit these people's rights to vote and then say, hey come vote Republican, we're trying to broaden our appeal.

SCARBOROUGH: This is – and I was just talking about what the Republicans need to do to reach out and not pick unnecessary fights. I don't think this is an unnecessary fight. I have seen over the past couple days people, and Harold, I would love your input and if – Gene’s still with us?

EUGENE ROBINSON: Still here.

SCARBOROUGH: I’d love to have your input on this, Gene. When I hear my dear friend Al Sharpton comparing the changing of early voting to what happened with Bull Connor in Birmingham and the south – John Lewis loves to do that all the time, too, and John is a good friend of mine, but you know, or a voter – telling somebody they have to bring a photo ID to the voting booth, and comparing that to the poll taxes or comparing that to the literacy test, or comparing that to the outrageous, hateful, despicable things that took place before 1965 – they lose me. And I think they lose most of the American people, because the American people aren't stupid enough to believe that having somebody bring a photograph ID to a voting position is the same thing as Bull Connor loosening dogs and water cannons on people who want to vote.

ROBINSON: Well, you don't have to make the direct comparison to understand or to believe, frankly, that these – that voter ID, and limiting early voting, have a political motive. They're not all about good government. If there were some big problem with impersonation, voter fraud, for example, then okay, let's talk about the acute need for voter ID. But there is no such problem. It – you know, people can point to like one case or two cases. It doesn't happen. And what does happen is, that Republicans lose some races they don't want to lose and it can't be a coincidence that these are all Republican issues. So, you know, I think it's legitimate to criticize this stuff. You don't necessarily have to draw a direct line. Obviously there's a difference between Bull Connor and voter ID.

SCARBOROUGH: You wouldn't have known that, though, hearing what a lot of people have been saying over the past three days, that this is the greatest setback of all time – to suggest that nine states in the south aren’t as racist or as bigoted as they were in 1965.    

ROBINSON: Well, but it is, it is still true though –

SCARBOROUGH [interrupting]: Which, by the way, can I just say – as a southerner, that is offensive to me, because you know what? It wasn't just in the nine states. I lived in most of them growing up. It’s not just those nine states and Arizona that have tried to pass voter ID laws. It's happened in Ohio, it’s happened everywhere across America.

ROBINSON: No, exactly.

SCARBOROUGH: I would like – you know what? Expand the map, but stop focusing on us in the deep south, because guess what? The south has changed and Gene, you know it as well, you know it better than I know it.

ROBINSON: There you go. Joe, you could have written my column. I said expand the map. Expand the map to include jurisdictions where, you know, there's some worse stuff going on and there is in parts of the south. Now it is still true that the majority, the largest number of the sort of proven violations of the Voting Rights Act, or transgressions under the Voting Rights Act, have happened in the south. But that's possibly because that's where people are looking for them. So – and if you look for them in Ohio and Pennsylvania, you might start finding more too. So I say expand the map rather than doing away with it.

SCARBOROUGH: And just focusing on the political realities of 1965 – Josh, stay with us, we’ve got a lot more to talk about on this topic. Harold, we want to get you in too.

(...)

SCARBOROUGH: Welcome back to Morning Joe. Donny Deutsch is here –

DONNY DEUTSCH: You know what? You don't like to be told you’re wrong, it’s that simple.
                 
SCARBOROUGH: Josh Green and Harold Ford, Jr. Highest minority turnout in the history of the United States of America.

HAROLD FORD, JR.: In 2012.

SCARBOROUGH: In 2012. And all we heard voter suppression, voter suppression. And I just sat there going, the media is going right along with this – talking about voter suppression, any story they can find, they're going to whip them into a frenzy. Democratic donors, Democratic base, Democrats are going to be whipped into a frenzy. They’re going to run out and say voter suppression, voter suppression. And then after the election, the highest African-American turnout ever. Highest Hispanic voting turnout ever.

DEUTSCH: I think that’s an unfair response though.

GREEN: Because you had a Justice Department step in and block voter ID laws, like the one that Texas tried to impose. And now, after the [Supreme] Court decision on Tuesday, [Texas] has announced it's going to turn around, it’s going to go ahead and do [the voter ID law].

DEUTSCH: And I think the [Supreme] Court decision – you can link it back to those other horrific voter suppressions, because the motives were the same. Obviously not as dastardly, but the motive was to limit minority turnout.

SCARBOROUGH: Donny, that's just not true.

DEUTSCH: Of course it is.

SCARBOROUGH: Donny, I've always supported –

DEUTSCH: I’m not talking about you!

SCARBOROUGH: I know, but you're saying the motive is the same. If I think somebody should be able to bring a photo ID – because, you know, the first time I voted they said what's your name? Joe. Is that you? Yeah. Okay. Sign here. And then I vote. I was like – wow. There's not a lot of safeguards here, are there? It’s always surprised me. So when somebody says, hey why don't we have somebody bring a voter ID? I go, well, you know, you bring your ID to everything else. Why not? I'm just thinking that's a sensible, sane thing to do. Suddenly people are running around saying – oh, you must be racist. No, I'm not.
                               
DEUTSCH: The political motive –

FORD, JR.: But the motivation –

SCARBOROUGH: Are they racist at the airport when they're asking for my photo ID?

DEUTSCH: I think they [Republicans] want to win elections, and I think the motivation –

SCARBOROUGH: No, is it racist for TSA agents to ask me for my voter ID? Wherever we go?

FORD, JR.: But Joe, if you agree that that aspect of the Voting Rights Act was included because the motivation was to restrict or to limit or to create bars or impediments to people voting – I agree, I think the motivation in a lot of these efforts were the same. Now, some of the comparisons may be a little outsized. But if the motivation is the same, then the remedy that we design to fix this – regardless of how draconian some on the [Supreme] Court may think – if the motivation of those doing this is what it was 20 years ago, 30 years ago is what it is, what it was then, then the remedy –

SCARBOROUGH: But this administration and the mainstream media that followed right behind like lap dogs, they all put that presumption in people's heads. Like let’s say myself. Or you will say to me. Because you know me, you've known what I've done

FORD, JR.: But Joe, if you ran all of these states – if you were the secretary of state in all these states, the equivalent of what runs the voting booth, I wouldn't have an issue. But you're not.

SCARBOROUGH: Does anybody think that most Americans find it objectionable or racist for people to have to bring a photo ID to the voting booth? Because over the past three days, that's what we've been hearing. That this is the most racist thing since Jim Crow laws, especially if those states are implementing measures that will help provide the IDs for them to use.

FORD, JR.: But Joe, in these – in some of these states, these secretaries of states that are equivalent specifically said, the reason we're doing this is to try to limit the number of black and Hispanic voters. The guy said that. True motive. True motive. If the intent was that –

GREEN: The guy in Pennsylvania said that. He said we’re going to hand the election to Mitt Romney with these laws. You tell me that the motivation isn't political for Republicans pushing these laws at the state level?

SCARBOROUGH: So you think, because there's a jackass in Pennsylvania, that every Republican who believes that you should have a photo ID if come to vote – think about it! How low do we want the bar to go, Donny? I mean, this is a joke. This is such a joke.

DEUSTCH: Nobody’s saying that! Nobody  – Joe! Joe!

SCARBOROUGH: I will guarantee you – most people in middle America, Donny, would be offended if you said they were racists because they believe –

DEUTSCH: No, Joe – I can’t believe!

SCARBOROUGH: Because they believe there should be a photo ID when somebody goes – don’t you have to have a photo ID to go get Sudafed? Don’t you have to have a photo ID if you get almost anything?

DEUTSCH: Tell me if you agree with these two statements. I believe the overwhelming [unintelligible] of Americans would not think it's racist to have a photo ID. I also believe the political motivation behind those nine states was driven to limit minority vote.

SCARBOROUGH: How do you know?

DEUTSCH: That's what I believe.

FORD, JR.: Well, that guy in Pennsylvania said it.

GREEN: Republican officials have said so openly.

SCARBOROUGH: You had a guy in Pennsylvania you say that said it.

GREEN: Yep.

SCARBOROUGH: OK, fine.

GREEN: Other Republicans have said it too.

SCARBOROUGH: So, there’s a jackass in Pennsylvania, who’s a joke and shouldn't be in office.

GREEN: So my point in this column, though, was you impose these laws, you have jackasses like that saying that stuff open, and the practical effect is it is going to be more difficult for Republicans to win those minority voters – and they need to.