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In an article about the Minnesota Senate election recount trial, the AP reported that "voters testified Tuesday their ballots had been unfairly rejected as Republican Norm Coleman argued thousands of disqualified absentee ballots should be counted in the U.S. Senate race" and quoted one voter who testified that he felt his ballot had been improperly rejected. However, the AP did not note that the testimony of two of those voters reportedly showed that their ballots appear to have been properly rejected.
In his Washington Post column, George F. Will falsely claimed that the 25-year extension in 2006 of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act "was based on the evidence used for the 1975 extension." However, as the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia wrote in a May 2008 ruling, before extending Section 5, Congress "held extensive hearings and compiled a massive legislative record documenting contemporary racial discrimination in covered states." Indeed, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees examined evidence of discrimination since 1982 -- the year of the last major reauthorization -- in extending the VRA.
Previously having stated that Democrat Al Franken "only needs to steal 130 more votes to win" his race against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman for Minnesota's U.S. Senate seat, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough again raised the subject of "steal[ing]" votes on the December 16 edition of Morning Joe -- at least the fifth time he has made such comments since the recount began on November 19. After co-host Mika Brzezinski reported that Franken is behind Coleman by 188 votes, Scarborough asked Pat Buchanan, "Buchanan, can you steal 188 out of 1,500? That's easy, right?"
Discussing the recount in the Minnesota Senate race between Al Franken and Sen. Norm Coleman, Fox News' Bret Baier asserted that the Franken campaign has been "dogged" in challenging questionable ballots and then aired a photograph of a ballot challenged by Franken, stating: "Franken is challenging this ... ballot, although the bubble beside Coleman's name appears to be clearly marked." However, Baier did not note or display any of the published examples of ballots that the Coleman campaign has challenged which "appear to be clearly marked" for Franken or another candidate besides Coleman.
Attacking Media Matters on his radio show for noting that his previous claim that Sen. Norm Coleman "was certified the winner" in the Minnesota Senate race was false, Bill O'Reilly repeated the falsehood, claiming: "[W]hat I said was, Coleman's victory was certified by the state because it was. He had 215 more votes, which is absolutely true." In fact, the Minnesota State Canvassing Board did not "certif[y]" a "victory" for Coleman or Al Franken, having authorized an automatic recount of ballots for that race; Minnesota election law states that "no certificate of election shall be prepared or delivered until after the recount is completed."
On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough again suggested that Al Franken is willing to "steal" votes in order to prevail against Sen. Norm Coleman. In making the suggestion, Scarborough again gave no evidence of any wrongdoing by Franken. Gov. Tim Pawlenty stated as recently as November 16 that "[a]s of this moment, there is no actual evidence of wrongdoing or fraud in the process."
Chris Matthews echoed the discredited rumor that 32 ballots from Minneapolis were mishandled in the Minnesota Senate race. Matthews asked: "What about these absentee ballots that were found in somebody's back seat and they're now counting them as official -- what is that about? That sounds pretty squirrely or sneaky or what -- I don't know what it sounds like." In fact, a lawyer for Republican Sen. Norm Coleman has reportedly said regarding those ballots that "[i]t does not appear that there was any ballot-tampering, and that was our concern."
The top of this article seems fine as the reporter outlines the extraordinarily close recount race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. But boy, the piece completely falls apart as the Times' Christina Capecchi stuffs the second half of the dispatch with right-wing talk points presented by right-wing talking heads.
*The article quotes Coleman's election attorney who accuses the Franken camp of vote-counting ""shenanigans," but requires the attorney to provide not proof/examples.
*In addressing the fact that the Secretary of State overseeing the recount is a Democrat (last time we checked that was allowed), the Times reports that Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten traced the official's "ties to liberal Democratic groups."
The Times though, doesn't bother to note that Kersten is a right-winger who smeared Franken right before Election Day as a "slanderer of Christianity." She's hardly a source worth citing in the New York Times.
*Speaking of dubious sources, the Times also quotes Sean Hannity who claims there's some "fishy business" unfolding in Minnesota. This has been the right-wing mantra all week: Dems are trying to "steal" the Minnesota election. The proof? There is none, which means there's absolutely no reason for the newspaper to be legitimize that kinds of GOP conspiracy talk.
In total, the Times article quotes or references six Coleman supporters but just one Franken backer.
The Franken/Coleman recount is going to be a lengthy process. Let's hope the Times can improve its coverage.
Fox News repeatedly aired graphics that purported to show "POLL CLOSINGS" in Eastern Standard Time for each state. But in states that cross time zones, the times listed in the graphics reflected the western-most time zone in the state, which could result in people watching Fox News in the eastern portion of some states being left with the impression that local polls would be open for an hour after they actually close.
MSNBC continually aired graphics that purported to show "POLL CLOSING" times for each state. But in states that cross over time zones, the times listed in the graphics reflected the western-most time zone in the state, in which polls close an hour later than the rest of the state. Thus, people watching MSNBC in the eastern portion of some states could be left with the impression that local polls would be open for an hour after they actually close.
MSNBC continues to run graphics claiming that polls close in Florida at 8 pm EST. In fact, in the vast majority of the state, polls close at 7 pm EST. There are similar problems with MSNBC's closing times for various other states.
Sure, every once in a while an MSNBC reporter reminds viewers that the times listed at the bottom of the screen may not be accurate in all parts of the state, and viewers should check with local officials for their closing times. That's great for the viewers who happen to be listening the one time an hour or so that MSNBC decides to tell the truth.
But anyone who doesn't happen to hear that and relies on the graphics that have been scrolling across the screen non-stop is in danger of showing up to vote after polls have closed.
So here's the question: At what point does the fact that MSNBC is knowingly misinforming voters about their voting hours cross the line from "irresponsible" to "illegal vote supression"?
MSNBC is currently running a graphic along the bottom of the screen listing states in which polls close at a given time.
MSNBC's focus seems to be on when voting in a given state is finished so that they can "call" the winner.
The unfortunate result is that MSNBC is telling viewers that polls close in Florida at 8 pm EST. But for the majority of the state, that isn't true -- in most of the state, polls close at 7 pm EST. So Florida voters who rely on MSNBC could show up to vote after polls have already closed.
There are likely similar problems with MSNBC's listing of closing times for other states, too.
MSNBC should really fix this. And voters should check their local poll closing times with more reliable sources.
UPDATE: Chuck Todd explains MSNBC's graphics: "We encourage you, if you're confused about when your polls close, to go and check with your local officials ... we want to tell our viewers when we'll start seeing vote counts, and that's why we have those final times up on our screen. So if you need to know when your polls close, check with your local officials."
Of course, if you want to know when your polls close, you should check with local officials. But in an ideal world -- a world in which MSNBC recognized that it's a really bad thing to mislead voters about when they can vote -- you could count on news organizations like MSNBC to tell you the truth about such things.
In a Politico.com piece, John Fund described "out-of-state" registrants who reportedly cast ballots in Ohio as "fraudulent voters," without noting that a Columbus Dispatch article Fund apparently cited in his piece quoted an Ohio prosecutor saying of the people: "[M]y take is that they haven't come here to deceive anyone. ... They were under the impression they were entitled to vote."