Fox News has mounted an impressive campaign to convince its audience that voter fraud is a rampant problem ahead of Tuesday's elections -- Bret Baier even promoted his channel's coverage of the topic on Sunday's Special Report by telling viewers that Fox would be reporting on voter-fraud allegations "in every show." (As we've noted, voter fraud occurs infrequently, and the conservative media's incessant claims about election fraud have been false more often than not.)
Glenn Beck contributed to the campaign during a special Sunday edition of his TV show, bolstering the narrative with false claims and fearmongering. In fact, during the opening segment, Beck told viewers that he was going to "scare the bat snot out of you in the next hour."
Glenn Beck is nothing if not subtle.
Beck began his discussion of voter-fraud allegations by telling his audience to "[e]xpect the fraud. Expect the intimidation. It's all been done before." He continued, "Eric Holder's DOJ didn't seem alarmed, you know, at the radical militants that were hovering at the polls. 'No big deal.' They inexplicably dropped the rock-solid case against them." As he said this, video rolled of the two New Black Panther Party members who stood outside a Philadelphia polling station on Election Day 2008.
Of course, Beck is wrong. "Eric Holder's DOJ" didn't "drop the rock-solid case." First of all, the decision not to pursue criminal charges in the case was made during the Bush administration. And second, the Obama Justice Department successfully obtained an injunction against the New Black Panther who was carrying a nightstick that day.
Beck then mentioned an allegation that Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) was "clearly politicking in voting areas." Beck commented: "That, by the way, is against the law. But who really cares anymore? That is exactly what Michelle Obama was doing in Illinois a couple of weeks ago."
This, too, is garbage. The source of the claim about Michelle Obama is apparently the Drudge Report, which cited a pool reporter from the Chicago Sun-Times. Drudge seized on a quote in the pool report from a voter named Dennis Campbell, who said of Obama, "She was telling me how important it was to vote to keep her husband's agenda going."
The Chicago Tribune reported that while she cast her ballot, "Obama abided by election laws that prohibit electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place. She did pose for pictures and told one voter: 'Make sure you get everybody out there voting. This one counts, as much as the other one.' "
Regarding whether Michelle Obama broke the law, FoxNews.com reported:
It all depends on what Obama actually said to the group of voters. Had she specifically told Campbell he needed to vote for a candidate who would support President Obama's agenda, she would indeed have violated Illinois election laws, as would someone wearing a campaign button or distributing political literature inside a polling place. But according to a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections, Obama made no such statement.
Rather, the elections official said, Obama told the group how important it is to vote early and vote in general, a perfectly appropriate suggestion at a polling place. Campbell's characterization of the conversation may simply have included his political position, that he voted "to keep her husband's agenda going," but not that the first lady had specifically encouraged Campbell to support Obama-friendly candidates.
Glenn Beck, debunked by his own operation's reporting. Nice.
And what would a Beck diatribe be without an attempt to demonize a person or an organization by associating them with George Soros?
Beck continued on about the allegation against Jackson Lee, which was made by a Tea Party group called the King Street Patriots. A voter registration group, Houston Votes, is accusing the King Street Patriots of voter intimidation and suing them, and both the King Street Patriots and Jackson Lee are requesting that the DOJ send representatives to the polls.
Beck said that the "parent company" of Houston Votes is "funded by George Soros -- the George Soros-Open Society-funded group Texans Together Education Fund." Then, in his "spooky dude" George Soros voice, Beck said, "Gee, I wonder which side will take the phone calls at the DOJ." If his point wasn't clear enough, Beck said later in the show that Soros is "Al Capone; he is just setting the system up" to steal elections.
Fear and false claims like these aren't just the most important components in Beck's broadcasts -- they're the very foundation of the right-wing media's storyline about voter fraud. We'll undoubtedly be getting plenty more of both, before and after the elections.