This will undoubtedly be called a partisan post, and when it is, I will be ticked off. It is not partisan to object to outright lies. It is partisan to ignore and accept lies according to who the liar is. This is the bind the news media has placed itself in, and a brilliant, throbbing example occurred during President Obama’s last press conference.
Discussing his concerns about state voter ID laws, Obama said,
“We’re the only advanced democracy in the world that makes it harder for people to vote. It traces directly back to Jim Crow and the legacy of slavery, and it became sort of acceptable to restrict the franchise. . . . we are the world’s oldest continuous democracy, and yet we systematically put up barriers and make it as hard as possible for our citizens to vote….This whole notion of election-voting fraud, this is something that has constantly been disproved. This is fake news.”
Wait, by “this is fake news,” was the President really announcing that what he just said was fiction? That would be very impressive, and a great new standard: imagine if the news media did that, and flagged their misleading stories! But I’m pretty sure that he was trying to make us believe what isn’t true, and a falsehood that supports the phony narrative that efforts to ensure the integrity of elections are really racist plots. Explicates John Fund:
“All industrialized democracies — and most that are not — require voters to prove their identity before voting. Britain was a holdout, but last month it announced that persistent examples of voter fraud will require officials to see passports or other documentation from voters in areas prone to corruption…In 2012, I attended a conference in Washington, D.C., of election officials from more than 60 countries; they convened there to observe the U.S. presidential election. Most were astonished that so many U.S. states don’t require voter ID…. [O]ur neighbors require voter ID. Canada adopted voter-ID requirements in 2007 and saw them reaffirmed in 2010; they have worked smoothly since, with almost no complaints. Mexico’s “Credencial para Votar” has a hologram, a photo, and other information embedded in it, and it is impossible to effectively tamper with it. …Britain is painfully learning that it too must take steps to restore confidence in its elections. Sir Eric Pickles, a former Conservative cabinet minister, warned earlier this year, in a government-commissioned report titled “Securing the Ballot,” that voter fraud had been allowed to fester in Muslim communities because of “politically correct over-sensitivities about ethnicity and religion.” Sir Eric said that the authorities were in a “state of denial” and were “turning a blind eye” to fraud cases. Last month, Theresa May’s government responded to the problem. It announced that “endemic corruption” meant that voters in certain areas will now have to show photo identification. The government may even require people to prove their UK citizenship before granting them the right to vote.”
As for Obama’s attempt to link current efforts to make sure voters are who they say they are to the racism of Jim Crow, that is fiction as well. Jim Crow era illegal efforts to keep blacks from voting involved outright intimidation, poll taxes and absurdly difficult literacy tests designed to block black citizens. Voter fraud was rampant, and there were no voter identification requirements. Besides, under Jim Crow, being black was often sufficient identification to get you stopped at the polling place. Obama’s statement is fake history. It is also unethical for the President of the United States, particularly one who has (falsely) styled himself as a scholar, to misuse that perceived authority in order to mislead the credulous public and pass along falsehoods. This, of course, has been an often legitimate complaint by the news media against Donald Trump. The same journalists never seemed to care so much when it was Obama spouting fake facts.
Disgraced fake news purveyor Dan Rather had the gall to post on Facebook over the weekend:
“Facts and the truth are not partisan. They are the bedrock of our democracy. And you are either with them, with us, with our Constitution, our history, and the future of our nation, or you are against it. Everyone must answer that question.”
Well put, Dan! Did you take issue with Obama’s lies about voter ID laws in other Western democracies? Dan didn’t, but then almost nobody in the mainstream media did either, because Obama’s lies don’t count, and besides, they were too busy pointing out that Trump’s Inauguration crowd wasn’t as large as he claimed it was.
Here is my favorite part! PolitiFact, the Democratic Party and progressive bolstering fact-checking organization that has been caught repeatedly covering for their favorite politicians and applying stricter standards to everyone else, decided to examine Obama’s claim about other nations. (It didn’t dare tackle the fake history, because even PolitiFact couldn’t wiggle out of that one.) Dutifully admitting that, yes, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, India, Canada, Spain, France, Malta, Belgium, Mexico all require identification, it explained–but! but!-–that in most of those countries, ID was “easy to get.”
Not easier to get than in the U.S., now. Just easy. In fact, identification is easy to get in the United States, too. There is no evidence that anyone who wants to vote and is a citizen can’t get proper identification.
PolitiFact’s verdict? Obama’s statement that “We’re the only advanced democracy in the world that makes it harder for people to vote” was “half-true.” No, really, that’s what they said. How can a statement that the U.S. is the only anything be “half true”? It is either true, or it is a false. This is false. It is not true at all. Most of the advanced democracies do make it “harder to vote,” which means, honest people will agree, harder than just walking up and voting.
PolitiFact is a partisan fraud, just like Snopes. If a journalist cites it, that tells you that the journalist is a hack.
This kind of deliberate complicity with lies coming from one side of the political divide is just another reason why no one can or should trust the news media until journalists prostrate themselves before us, list their ethical transgressions, promise to rededicate the profession to objectivity and fairness and give us reason to believe that they mean it. It doesn’t mean that they should not subject the flood of misinformation coming from the Trump Administration to legitimate scrutiny, but it should make us skeptical of their motives and judgment.