TV journalists have been using DNC talking points to inaccurately slam a series of state election security laws as “racist,” reminiscent of “Jim Crow,” and deliberate “voter suppression.”
The narrative on TV news networks goes something like this: “racist” Republicans are using the “Big Lie” (their term for suggestions of fraud in the 2020 election) as an excuse to pass restrictive election laws, in an attempt to prevent people of color from voting.
On March 26, CNN Newsroom host Brianna Keilar began her show with this proclamation: “We are watching the Big Lie turn into voter suppression before our very eyes.”
That same weekend on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent bemoaned the new laws as “a huge wave of voter suppression efforts.” He later complained the media were being too fair to Republicans by framing the debate as merely political rather than moral: “There isn’t a mid-point between a fireman and an arsonist.”
MSNBC was no better; on Tuesday, ReidOut host Joy Reid spent nearly half her show laying into “Georgia’s Jim Crow voter suppression law.”
But much of the breathless reporting about these new election security laws is inaccurate. This past Sunday on ABC’s This Week, for example, panelist Margaret Hoover (not exactly a fire-breathing conservative) pointed out some of the numerous ways in which Georgia’s recently-passed election law actually expanded voting rights: “It gets rid of signature match. It expands early voting… It expanded Saturday and Sunday voting.”
Furthermore, Erick Erickson noted that one of the media’s biggest gripes about the Georgia law — requiring voter ID on absentee ballots — is actually quite popular with voters, including among the populations whom liberal journalists insist it would disenfranchise:
A University of Georgia poll found that a majority of liberals, conservatives, black voters, white voters, men, and women actually supported requiring a photo ID copy be provided to vote absentee. The Republican law does not even go that far — merely requiring a drivers license number or a photo ID number with the photo ID freely provided.
CNN’s New Day co-host Alisyn Camerota was subjected to another series of fact-checks on Tuesday morning while interviewing Georgia State Senator Butch Miller. In one instance, Camerota charged that the law would “restrict” early voting hours, when in reality it expanded them by more than a day’s worth:
ALISYN CAMEROTA: You restrict early voting hours from 9:00 A.M. To 5:00 P.M. Isn't that when most people are at work?
BUTCH MILLER: Well actually, we increased early voting hours by 33 hours over the entire period that early voting is available in Georgia.
CAMEROTA: Right, but those particular hours --
MILLER: If you read the bill, if you read the bill, You will find that there are 33 more hours.
CAMEROTA: Okay. But I have-- the law specifies that early voting hours must run from 9:00 A.M. To 5:00 P.M. That's the language in the bill. But isn't that --
MILLER: Shall. Beg your pardon. Shall run from 9:00 to 5:00, but may run from 7:00 to 7:00.
MILLER: So there are a lot of details here that apparently maybe we need to review to make sure that you're clear on. Sorry.
In smearing these election security laws as a danger to democracy, journalists have been making Democrats’ case for sweeping legislation like HR-1, which would negate state election laws (among other things). CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein explicitly argued in favor of that bill this past weekend during the wee hours of March 29: “If Democrats are going to prevent this from happening, or reverse what’s already been done, they really only have one option. And that is to end the filibuster to pass a nation-wide floor of voting rights, like what’s contained in HR-1.”
The problems with this coverage go far beyond inaccurate reporting. We now have journalists impugning the motives of Republican-led state legislatures as a matter of fact, in the hopes of advancing the Democratic agenda.