New Year, Same Old ‘War on Voting’ Shtick at MSNBC.com

MSNBC.com’s Zachary Roth has an obsession pitting “voting rights activists” against Republicans in his running series on the supposed “step backwards” that voting rights have taken in the past year. In a January 2 online piece, Roth whines that, “Republican legislatures in states across the country continued to advance restrictive voting laws.”

In typical MSNBC fashion, the piece is peppered with quotes from individuals fretting over the state of voting rights in America, including Dan Tokaji of Ohio State University who with regards to Congress reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act said, “I’m not optimistic about any legislation getting through the current Congress.” Throughout his article, Roth routinely used the term “voting rights activists” to describe supporters of new voting laws.

Roth, like the rest of the liberals at MSNBC, ignorantly claims that only Democrats and opponents of laws such as photo ID, care about “voting rights” but provided no evidence of how the authors of such bills oppose easy access to the ballot. Roth hyped Wendy Weiser of the liberal Brennan Center for Justice who frets that upcoming legal cases surrounding new voting laws will, “really send a signal as to how strong the protection of Section 2 really is going to be against discriminatory voting changes.”

Rather than providing his readers a quote from a supporter of the new voting laws, Roth was perfectly content citing a liberal who concluded that such laws represent “discriminatory voting changes.” As if that weren’t enough, the MSNBC.com reporter hyped efforts by the Obama Department of Justice which is:

Adding muscle to its voting rights arm. The White House announced in November that it will nominate Debo Adegbile, a highly regarded former top lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, to serve as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, a post that includes oversight of DoJ’s voting section. And it reportedly will appoint Pamela Karlan, a Stanford University law professor and prominent voting rights advocate, as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in charge of the voting section.  

Roth shows that he has absolutely no intention of presenting a fair picture as he proclaimed that “Republican-controlled states are poised to continue the push for regressive voting laws.” In the numerous examples Roth provided to illustrate the GOP’s “war on voting” he produced no evidence of anyone actually barred from voting or anyone being the victim of “regressive voting laws.” By using the scary “regressive” term, Roth has created a false “war” to throw at Republicans.

Roth then supposedly contrasted the GOP’s “regressive voting laws” with Democratic "efforts to expand access to the ballot" such as:

"[i]n Kentucky, [where] three bills have been pre-filed that would restore voting rights to those with past criminal convictions. A similar one was pre-filed in Virginia. And in Florida, which in recent years has cracked down on voter registration activities, two measures would move in the opposite direction, making it easier for eligible citizens to register to vote.” 

Roth concluded his article with another quote from Weiser demanding a call for action, “Unfortunately the push to restrict voting continues. We need to keep pushing back against these unfair efforts to restrict the franchise.”

This should be just a preview of coming attractions in 2014, a crucial midterm election year. The Lean Forward network is intent on whipping up the liberal base by playing to fear and anger over an imaginary "war on voting." It's the sort of cynical pandering you expect from a liberal interest group but which should be beneath a self-professing news organization like MSNBC.

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