From time to time, MSNBC hosts like to do their part to further the meme that Republicans are out to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning constituencies such as blacks and the elderly by using voter ID laws as a back-door way to discourage voting by those groups.
Today Hardball fill-in host Michael Smerconish picked up the baton, interviewing Michael Waldman of the liberal Brennan Center for Justice about his group's claim that its new "comprehensive study" finds five million Americans will be effectively disenfranchised in 2012 thanks to new voter ID laws in numerous states.
For his part, Smerconish did play a bit of devil's advocate:
On Friday's Dylan Ratigan show on MSNBC, host Dylan Ratigan reported on Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann attempting to form a congressional tea party caucus and proceeded to rant: "...the tea partiers were nowhere when it came to ending the mass extraction in Wall Street, so I think they're actually full of crap." [Audio available here]
Ratigan then wondered: "...for a movement, however, that prides itself on having no formal ties to the federal government, forget the aspect of being full of crap when it comes to the banking system, why are the Republican Party members and tea party members so receptive to getting together?" He posed that question to his guests, left-wing talk show host Cenk Uygur and former Bill Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman.
Uygur couldn't agree more with Ratigan's assessment: "You took the words right out of my mouth. She [Bachmann] is so full of crap. I mean, she might be the queen of crap." He then proclaimed: "All she's ever done is protected the bankers....I guess the tea party movement, in essence, is actually about protecting the richest people in America. Wow, what a populist movement you have there."
Waldman took the conversation even lower, as he argued: "The Republicans would like to benefit from the...neurotic energy of the tea party. But they don't really want them in the front parlor. They don't want everybody to identify their extremism with the Republican Party, just the way the Democrats didn't want the Weathermen determining the face...At the front of the house." The Weathermen, or Weather Underground, was a anti-war domestic terrorist organization during the Vietnam war era. Barack Obama associate Bill Ayers was a member.
On Friday’s American Morning program, CNN correspondent Carol Costello referred to the liberal organization ACORN as merely "a group committed to registering minority voters," and highlighted how it’s "trying to quiet what it calls ‘hysteria,’ coming from conservative circles" who "charge it’s... guilty of voter fraud." The on-screen graphic accompanying her report, which was the last full segment during the 6 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, exclaimed that "ACORN Fight Back: Says Conservatives Creating ‘Hysteria.’"
Despite playing two clips from Republican presidential candidate John McCain and conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who both criticized ACORN, Costello played three clips from two individuals who sympathized with the organization. The first two clips came from former U.S. attorney David Iglesias, who was one of eight U.S. attorneys who were controversially fired by the Justice Department in 2006. He compared the GOP’s focus on the liberal group to the "Red Scare of the 1950s." During the third clip, Michael Waldman, a former speechwriter for President Clinton who now directs the Brennan Center at NYU’s School of Law, emphasized that "voters should know is that when someone registers under a fake name, that doesn’t mean they can vote under a fake name." Costello identified Waldman as merely as an "elections expert," and repeated his talking point twice at the end of her report.