Mitchell baselessly suggested misleading Republican "robocalls" are "the kind of procedure that both parties have used"November 7, 2006 2:11 PM EST ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE
On the November 7 edition of MSNBC's Decision 2006: Battleground America, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell baselessly suggested that making "robocalls," such as the one "being used in Illinois against [Democratic congressional candidate] Tammy Duckworth" is "the kind of procedure that both parties have used -- clearly -- but the Republicans have used it more this year than not." In fact, the robocall from the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) targeting Duckworth, which Mitchell aired, as well as many other reported robocalls made by the NRCC across the country, have been referred to as "false flag" robocalls because they do not identify the party responsible at the beginning of the call. Democrats have said that the absence of that identification at the outset might lead prospective voters to believe they are being harassed by the Democratic candidate the call targets, rather than the Republican group that sponsored the call; contrary to Mitchell's assertion, Media Matters for America has seen no reports of similar accusations leveled against the NRCC's Democratic counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), or any other Democratic entity. As Media Matters has noted, several media reports leading up to the midterm elections have baselessly asserted that Republicans and Democrats equally engage in "dirty tricks" while providing only Republican examples or filling the evidentiary void by asserting that, despite their lack of evidence of Democratic shenanigans, they're either going to do it or just haven't been caught yet.
Besides Illinois, there have been reports in local media outlets of robocalls on behalf of Republican candidates in a number of other states as well, including North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, New Mexico, Kansas, New Hampshire, Maryland, Montana, and Tennessee.
While Mitchell did point out that the calls are "misleading" because "people hang up before they hear who the caller is," she baselessly suggested that Democrats had placed similar robocalls. Mitchell also failed to note charges that some of these Republican robocalls violate the law. The New Hampshire Union Leader reported on November 6 that New Hampshire's attorney general's office believes that Republican robocalls being used there "may have violated New Hampshire law by contacting residents listed on the federal Do Not Call registry."
According to blogger Joshua Micah Marshall, "If you don't listen through the whole message, the machine keeps calling you back, often well in excess of half a dozen times with the same call. It only stops if you listen all the way through. As you can imagine, that's driving a lot of people through the roof."
From the November 7 decision of MSNBC's Decision 2006: Battleground America:
MITCHELL: Let me ask you about some of the techniques -- you've talked about the get-out-the-vote effort. Let me ask you about some of these techniques that are being used this year, particularly, the automated voting. Let's take a listen to one of these robocalls being used in Illinois against Tammy Duckworth.
ANNOUNCER [audio clip]: Hello, I'm calling with information about Tammy Duckworth. Tammy Duckworth said she would seriously consider repealing part of the recent federal tax cut. Tammy Duckworth's plan could mean higher taxes for married couples and the death tax would return. And repealing the current child tax credit would mean that the tax credit would get cut in half. Tammy Duckworth is wrong on taxes and wrong for Illinois.
This call was paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee and not authorized by any candidate or candidates' committee. Www.nrcc.org. Thank you for your time.
MITCHELL: Danny, how do you, how do you defend that?
DANNY DIAZ (Republican National Committee spokesman): Well, that's a call from another committee but, ultimately, it's talking about Tammy Duckworth's record; it's right on the mark. She is not for -- she's not for making the tax cuts permanent. She does have a weak record, and she would be part of a party that would increase taxes on the American people $2.4 trillion. And, ultimately --
MITCHELL: They have -- they've denied that but, in any case, what about the fact of having these calls come, these automated calls -- they are misleading, they are often -- people hang up before they hear who the caller is. I mean, isn't this the kind of procedure that both parties have used -- clearly -- but the Republicans have used it more this year than not?
DIAZ: Well, I mean, these aren't the RNC's calls and I can't speak to what another committee is doing. But what I can say is that we're aggressively getting out the message and Tammy Duckworth is not for making the tax cuts permanent.