The American Prospect's Adam Serwer explains the basic problem with CNN's report about ACORN: "CNN is unable or unwilling to make the critical distinction between registration fraud and voter fraud."
That's a huge distinction. Here's CNN's Drew Griffin last night:
GRIFFIN: ACORN's voting registration drives are under investigation or suspicion in several states. Just yesterday, local authorities raided this ACORN office in Las Vegas where ACORN workers allegedly registered members of the Dallas Cowboys football team.
And here's how Griffin ended his report:
GRIFFIN: It absolutely is a crime. That was a fraud, somebody who filled out those forms. And I looked at them, Anderson. They're obviously a fraud.
But the election workers say we have to turn this over to the actual elected board of elections. The board of elections has to then bring in the county attorney to see if an investigation, a criminal investigation, should begin. So all of that will be, you know, weeks, maybe even months down the road, and of course, that's going to be after the election.
By noting that the "criminal investigation" might not come until "after the election," Griffin suggests the fraud will have an effect on the outcome of the election. This is alarmist: Unless those members of the Dallas Cowboys actually show up to vote in Nevada, the fact that someone registered them to do so won't make a bit of difference on election day.
From time to time, people whose job is to sign up new votes are going to fill out voter registrations for Mickey Mouse to pad their totals. That's a problem, but it isn't going to affect vote totals unless Mickey Mouse actually shows up to vote. But you wouldn't know that from the media's frenzied reporting of the Republicans' biennial attacks.
Every election year, conservatives start screaming about "voter fraud." And the media pays a great deal of attention. And, when all is said and done, there is typically a negligible amount of actual voter fraud.
Meanwhile, as we've been reminded in recent election cycles, voter disenfranchisement does happen.
You'd think the media would have learned by now. And yet they're in a frenzy over the Right's attacks on ACORN ... and all but ignoring stories like this:
Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law, according to a review of state records and Social Security data by The New York Times.
On his radio show, Chris Baker said, "I don't think homeless people should vote. Frankly. In fact, I have to be very honest. I'm not that excited about women voting, to be honest." Baker later said: "But that's just me. I'm a pig, and that's fine. All right? And we'll see that, I'm sure, on a lame-ass website very soon. But I don't think hobos ought to vote at all. They're nuts. And I think that there needs to be a little more care in who votes."
On The Situation Room, John King uncritically reported that "[i]n a statement, a McCain spokesman took a shot at the other party, saying, 'Americans can't afford the Democrats' liberal agenda to raise taxes, nationalize health care, cut off trade, and crush the economy under big government.' " Following what has become a pattern in the media, King failed to note the significant falsehoods and misleading claims in McCain's statement and simply read it without challenge.
CNN's Brianna Keilar reported, "Today the Senate voted to stop debate on a bill that would have given Washington, D.C., residents their first ever representative in the U.S. House." But Keilar did not note that it was 41 Republicans and one Democrat who voted to block the bill, denying proponents the 60-vote supermajority needed to end their filibuster.
On Special Report, correspondent Anita Vogel falsely claimed that ballot initiatives proposed by Democrats on the distribution of California's electoral votes would "protect the current process." In fact, the initiatives would change the "current process" if enacted by California and other states.
On Fox News Live, correspondent Anita Vogel reported on a ballot initiative proposed by a Republican organization that would "divvy up" California's "55 coveted electoral votes to the winner of each congressional district, rather than the winner-take-all system currently in place." On-screen text during Vogel's report identified a spokesman for the GOP group as "pro-reform" and an opponent of the initiative as "anti-reform." However, the spokesman has criticized two other initiatives on California's electoral vote that have been proposed by Democrats.
Morton Kondracke said that the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the Bush administration's firing of nine U.S. attorneys have "discovered nothing specifically nefarious that any of -- that these firings had anything to do with, except, maybe, the failure to prosecute voter fraud cases." In fact, two of the fired prosecutors have said that they investigated voter fraud allegations but found insufficient evidence to warrant prosecution or a grand jury investigation, while administration officials have stated that a third was fired for reasons unrelated to his performance.
Dick Morris asserted that the Bush administration fired eight U.S. attorneys "because they wouldn't prosecute voter fraud and other crimes." In fact, two of the fired prosecutors have said that they investigated such allegations, but found insufficient evidence to warrant prosecution or a grand-jury investigation.
On MSNBC's Hardball, Chris Matthews failed to question Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman's baseless assertion that illegal votes helped Democrats win the Washington state gubernatorial election.
MSNBC host Chris Matthews claimed that a recently reported data-mining initiative led by Harold Ickes -- an adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) -- is "just like we saw the NSA doing" in conjunction with President Bush's controversial warrantless domestic eavesdropping program. But the initiative run by Ickes, according to news reports, relies on commercially and publicly available information that Republicans have used for years in their data operations. Matthews made no mention of these Republican operations.