Several times on Saturday, CNN demonstrated its inability to grasp fact as well as its fixation on racial issues that strained for a reason to discuss slavery within topics you wouldn't expect it. Previewing the upcoming Georgia runoff between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican nominee Herschel Walker, correspondent Nadia Romero tried to tie the runoff system to slavery.
She first raised the topic at 8:03 a.m. Eastern during an appearance on CNN This Morning Weekend: “So let's talk about the runoff elections in Georgia as a whole. Usually, you see these runoff elections happening in the South -- in the Bible Belt -- in states that were formerly slave-owning states. And that is why so many people, including the Georgia NAACP, say that there is a racist element to why we have runoff elections as a total.”
So when you look at the voting that would happen in the 1870s -- in the Reconstruction after slavery when black men were allowed to vote -- you have to think about the mindset of those land-owning, powerful white men who were in the South at that time -- they're used to owning people that look like me. And so now, some of those people with brown skin are able to vote. How can you continue to control them?
She then explained that Georgia's runoff system requires the top two candidates to run against one another if neither receives more than 50 percent of the vote, and recalled that such a system in the past helped prevent members of the black minority from being elected in white-majority Georgia and other Southern states.
But her tracing of the system back to the Reconstruction era of the late 1800s was contradicted two years ago by NBC News correspondent Priscilla Thompson, who recalled that the system was devised in the 1960s after the Supreme Court ruled against previous tactics in limiting black power.
And if the system is inherently racist and meant to penalize the party black Georgians predominantly support (Democrats), then Romero should be asked if it was racist that then-incumbent Senator David Purdue (R) won the initial 2020 vote but later lost the seat due to a runoff stemming from his inability to hit 50 percent.
Romero's negative spin against a system that arguably promotes democracy by preventing a candidate from winning with less than 50 percent of the vote surprisingly goes against recent complaints by liberals about Donald Trump getting elected President with just 46 percent of the popular vote. Additionally, liberals have recently tended to support similar runoffs in California and Washington, as well as the ranked choice systems in Maine and Alaska which also utilize a runoff mechanism.
Romero's analysis was so popular with her colleagues that she repeated it three additional times that day when prodded by anchors Amara Walker and Fredricka Whitfield. For example, Walker was convinced in the 10:00 a.m. Eastern hour: “Very fascinating and important to keep the history in mind.”
As NewsBusters pointed out two years ago, it would have been more relevant to recount that, a few decades ago, after Democratic Senator Wyche Fowler was forced into a runoff and lost in 1992, Democrats lowered the runoff threshold from 50 to 45 percent, helping Democrat Max Cleland get elected in 1996.
After Republicans took the state legislature in 2005, they restored the 50 percent threshold, fearing that the state's Libertarian party would siphon away enough votes to help Democrats come in first place with more than 45 percent.
This lame attempt by CNN to make slavery relevant to a U.S. Senate election in the year 2022 was sponsored in part by Fidelity. Their contact information is linked.
CNN This Morning Weekend
November 12, 2022
8:03 a.m. Eastern
NADIA ROMERO: So, let's talk about the runoff elections in Georgia as a whole. Usually, you see these runoff elections happening in the south in the Bible Belt, and states that were formerly slave owning states. And that is why so many people, including the Georgia NAACP says that there is a racist element to why we have runoff elections as a total. So when you look at the voting that would happen in the 1870s -- in the Reconstruction after slavery when black men were allowed to vote -- you have to think about the mindset of those land-owning, powerful white men who were in the South at that time -- they're used to owning people that look like me. And so now, some of those people with brown skin are able to vote. How can you continue to control them? Or some what are you by a runoff system. So, if you have four or five people running for an election, if you didn't get 50 percent of the vote plus one, then you had to go to a runoff. So, the top two candidates will face off again, a weeks later. So, you dilute that black power. If you have one black candidate, and then you had three or four other white candidates. Now all those white candidates can throw their power behind that white person, the white population can now throw their power behind that candidate and ensure that a black person could never win. And that is why if you look at the fact that Raphael Warnock was the first black person elected to the Senate from the state of Georgia. How could that be knowing that at times in the state the black population was up to some 40 percent, there's always been black people in this state always voting, always a prominent force. But still, it took to 2021 before Raphael Warnock was able to make that achievement, that accomplishment, so here we are with this system that is in place. But the system has changed since the 2020 election with a Senate bill that was passed by a Republican-controlled legislature here in the state of Georgia. And that limited early voting, which tends to favor Democrats. And that's really something you can see all across the country mail-in ballots, absentee voting, early voting, favoring black voters and, and Democrat voters. And you're also seeing that that timeframe was shrunken, that was taken down. Same things happening now when it comes to this runoff election. Two years ago, people were having nine weeks to vote for runoff now that's down to just four weeks. And so, if you wanted to participate in this runoff here in the state of Georgia, you would have had to have had your ballots requested already by now. Because if you think about the time it takes to get that ballot to you make your selection, send it back and have it counted on time, we've really shrunk that down in half. And so that's another claim of criticism that there's an effort to suppress the vote here.
November 12, 2022
10:43 a.m. Eastern
AMARA WALKER: Yeah, and, Nadia, I got to ask you, you know, this idea of a runoff election especially here in the South, in Georgia, it has a troubling history, especially when it came to the purpose with the rules. Can you explain that?
ROMERO: Yeah, and if you really sit down and talk with someone over at the Georgia NAACP or other civil rights leaders, they'll explain to you that this all began in the Reconstruction era after the Civil War. It was a way to limit the power of black voters because there were so many black people in the states that were brought here against their will to work, and then once they were emancipated, black men then had the right to vote later on. And so this was seen as a way to limit that voting power by the black population that at times makes up some 40 percent of the electorate. So now you have this system that allows for two people to advance to a runoff election if you don't have 50 percent plus one vote. And that's what we're seeing again. And it allows for the white population to really rally together around their candidate, they have the numbers, the majority, and prevent a black candidate from ever getting that office, getting that seat. And that's why in 2021 many people will say it's the runoff election process is the reason why Raphael Warnock was the very first black person to win a Senate seat out of the state of Georgia. In all of these years, with all of the black people who live in the state of Georgia, and you see those milestones being reached in state after state here and the formerly slave-owning states. So this is a system that has come under question for a very long time now. But this is the system that we have in place. We also saw, Amara and Boris, the early voting process being shortened during the regular election and now for the runoff election as well, and early voting generally favors Democrats as well. That has come under fire as well.
WALKER: Very fascinating and important to keep the history in mind.
CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield
November 12, 2022
1:33 p.m. Eastern
PROFESSOR DAVID SCHWEIDEL, EMORY UNIVERSITY: I think it was two percent that went for the third party candidate in the election.
SCHWEIDEL: That two percent, do they have a reason to come out and vote --
SCHWEIDEL: -- in this special election?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD: Right, because, Nadia, often that turnout in midterm -- I mean, in runoff elections is usually very low. But, at the same time, what we're finding out about this runoff, people are learning a lot more about, I guess, the history --
WHITFIELD: -- of -- of midterms and runoff elections. What are they learning?
ROMERO: Well, we would normally have nine weeks -- like I mentioned -- it's down to four weeks -- so you have even fewer weeks now to make that decision and to remind people that you've got to do this all over again by December 6th if you're going to vote in person. But if you look at how this runoff election was started, mostly you're going to see this in the Bible Belt and formerly slave-owning states like Georgia. And after Reconstruction, when black men were able to vote, those white former slave owners said to themselves, "How can we still hold on to power? We have to take that voting block and eliminate their power to vote." And so, if you talk to the Georgia NAACP and other civil rights leaders, they'll tell you, runoff elections are really instilled in racism to limit black power -- limit black voters. And that's why you have all those candidates who may show up at the election, but if you don't have 50 percent plus one vote ---
ROMERO: -- you can't win. You have to now go to the runoff election. So that means that all of the white voters can now get behind the white candidate -- and just to make sure that that one black candidate who perhaps was part of that top two --
ROMERO: -- doesn't have a chance to become that congressperson. And that's why back in 2021 --
ROMERO: -- Raphael Warnock was the first black person to be elected to Senate -- to the Senate from this state despite the fact that we've had a very large black population --
ROMERO: -- in Georgia since its inception because people were stolen --
ROMERO: --- and brought here to work for free.
CNN Newsroom with Fredricka Whitfield
November 12, 2022
2:11 p.m. Eastern
WHITFIELD: And then, you know, this -- this race, even this --- you know, the changes that you talked about from nine weeks to four weeks
ROMERO: Right, right.
WHITFIELD: -- it's also sparking other conversations --
WHITFIELD: -- about its history.
ROMERO: The history, and was this built on voter suppression? Specifically on suppressing the black vote. If you look at runoff elections, you'll largely see them in formerly slave-owning states like Georgia. After the Civil War, the South lost, black men were able to vote, and so those former slave owners are now standing toe-to-toe with the people they used to own -- with the black men who they used to own. And their thought was: "How can I limit their voting power?" This is coming from the Georgia NAACP and from civil rights leaders who will tell you that this all comes from limiting the power of the black vote. That's why you have to have 50 percent plus one vote in order to win an election -- a statewide election here in Georgia.