Fox News Finally Reports On Voter Suppression (When It Affects Republicans)
Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP
Fox News reported on allegations of voter suppression in Florida against victims identified as mostly Republicans, but largely ignored similar stories of voter suppression in other areas of the country. Fox has historically downplayed the significance of voter suppression, especially voter identification laws that experts find will disenfranchise thousands if enacted.
On Fox's America's Newsroom, reporter Phil Keating reported on an investigation into an alleged effort to suppress GOP voters in Florida. Voters were reportedly sent letters claiming their citizenship was in question and would need to be validated before they could vote. The letter also noted that they risked a felony voter fraud charge if they voted without validating their citizenship. Keating added that the victims were mostly registered Republicans:
Fox News' concern over allegations of voter suppression stands in contrast to the network's handling of similar stories of possible voter suppression that did not disproportionately affect Republican voters.
The Florida story is one of many cases of voter suppression across the country, yet according to a search of closed caption and Nexis transcripts, it is the only one being covered extensively by Fox.
In Pennsylvania, predominantly Hispanic communities were targeted with a series of ads that falsely suggested that identification was required to vote. The ads, which ran only in Spanish, featured a woman holding a Pennsylvania driver's license and read "This Election Day, if you have it, show it." Before the ads ran, a judge ruled that state-approved voter ID was not required to vote in Pennsylvania.
The New York Times reported that a Republican-run election board in Ohio sent out 2,300 mailers to potential voters falsely identifying the election date as November 8, instead of November 6. The mailer also reportedly provided the wrong directions to the voting location. In Arizona, information sent with voter ID cards also mistakenly identified the election date as November 8, but only in Spanish. The English version of the information contained the correct date.
In Ohio, a series of billboards in primarily African-American neighborhoods warned that "voter fraud is a felony," which was described as a "brazenly intimidating message." This was the only story covered by Fox in a brief segment on the October 18 edition of On The Record, but was ignored by the rest of the network
In addition to ignoring suspected voter suppression that targets non-Republicans, Fox has also consistently downplayed the effect of voter ID laws, which experts agree could restrict the rights of thousands of eligible voters.
Fox host Greg Gutfield dismissed concerns over voter ID disenfranchisement, claiming "This is the soft racism of lowered expectations." On the July 11 edition of Fox New's The Five, Gutfield and fellow co-host Eric Bolling argued that it was wrong for Attorney General Eric Holder to criticize voter identification laws, calling his comments a "dog whistle."
On August 2, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy highlighted a flawed report that claimed minorities would be protected by voter ID laws. But contrary to the right-wing media's portrayal of the laws, evidence continues to mount showing that these laws would not only suppress the right to vote, they would, in fact, primarily target minority voters.
On the August 13 edition Fox News' America's Newsroom, conservative columnist John Fund promoted voter ID laws and downplayed the effect the laws could have on restricting voting rights. He claimed there is "no chance that someone will be denied the right to vote because they don't have an ID in Pennsylvania."
A September 12 Associated Press piece featured evidence from a study conducted by Cathy Cohen of the University of Chicago and Jon Rogowski of Washington University in St. Louis which found that as a result of new voter ID laws, "as many as 700,000 minority voters under 30 may be unable to cast a ballot in November."