Scarborough embellished as "reporting" WSJ editorial's one-sided echo of Coleman's recount accusation

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough falsely suggested that assertions in The Wall Street Journal about the Minnesota Senate race were the result of "reporting," including the Journal's reference to "double counting" in the race. But in claiming that there was "double counting," the Journal did not cite reporting and echoed an accusation by the campaign of the incumbent, Republican Norm Coleman.

On the January 5 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough falsely suggested that assertions in The Wall Street Journal about the Minnesota Senate race -- including the Journal's reference to "double counting" of ballots -- were the result of "reporting." Scarborough stated, "The Wall Street Journal is saying that there's some irregularities they need to investigate, double vote counts. I'm sure there's going to be a big debate about that," and later said, "The Wall Street Journal is writing today, reporting today, that there are a lot of discrepancies, a lot of inconsistencies, double votes being counted." But the Journal simply asserted that there was double counting, echoing the accusation by the incumbent, Republican Norm Coleman; it did not cite reporting to support its claim, only quoting State Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson, a member of the canvassing board, who the Journal said "has acknowledged that 'very likely there was a double counting.' "

Moreover, as Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall noted, at no point in the editorial did the Journal note that the canvassing board, which reached a unanimous decision rejecting "challenges to unmatched original damaged ballots," is bipartisan and has, in Marshall's words, "at least as many Republicans as Democrats, and may actually have more Republicans than Democrats":

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is an elected Democrat. He serves on the canvassing board automatically. For the rest he picked two Republican state Supreme Court Justices (justices appointed by Gov. Pawlenty (R)), one Independent judge appointed to the bench by former Gov. Jesse Ventura, and a fourth county judge who may be a Democrat or an Independent (we don't know because it was a non-partisan election).

Needless to say, the Journal doesn't mention this, but hints at it in this feeble excuse, claiming that the rest of the canvassing board has been "meek" in the face of Ritchie's "machinations."

The January 5 Journal editorial stated:

Mr. Franken started the recount 215 votes behind Senator Coleman, but he now claims a 225-vote lead and suddenly the man who was insisting on "counting every vote" wants to shut the process down. He's getting help from Mr. Ritchie and his four fellow Canvassing Board members, who have delivered inconsistent rulings and are ignoring glaring problems with the tallies.

Under Minnesota law, election officials are required to make a duplicate ballot if the original is damaged during Election Night counting. Officials are supposed to mark these as "duplicate" and segregate the original ballots. But it appears some officials may have failed to mark ballots as duplicates, which are now being counted in addition to the originals. This helps explain why more than 25 precincts now have more ballots than voters who signed in to vote. By some estimates this double counting has yielded Mr. Franken an additional 80 to 100 votes.

This disenfranchises Minnesotans whose vote counted only once. And one Canvassing Board member, State Supreme Court Justice G. Barry Anderson, has acknowledged that "very likely there was a double counting." Yet the board insists that it lacks the authority to question local officials and it is merely adding the inflated numbers to the totals.

However, the Franken campaign has argued that the evidence does not show that double counting occurred. In a December 24 order, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the State Canvassing Board's decision.

In addition, in a later segment of Morning Joe, Scarborough asserted, "The Wall Street Journal reporting this morning that there are some irregularities in Minnesota," and asked NBC News' chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd, "Tell me, how ugly do you think it's going to get before Franken's seated?" Todd responded in part by asserting that the Journal's editorial page has an "obsession over voting irregularities," adding: "I think they have the assumption of shenanigans when maybe we don't know that there are shenanigans in this case."

As Media Matters has documented, Scarborough has repeatedly invoked his "theory" that Franken "can steal" enough votes in the Minnesota race for U.S. Senate to emerge victorious, raising "steal[ing]" votes at least six times since the recount began on November 19.

From the January 5 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

SCARBOROUGH: We are. And also, Al Franken --

MIKA BRZEZINSKI (co-host): Yes.

SCARBOROUGH: -- may be ruled the winner today. The Wall Street Journal is saying that there's some irregularities they need to investigate, double vote counts. I'm sure there's going to be a big debate about that --

BRZEZINSKI: But it's not over. It's just not --

SCARBOROUGH: It's not even close.

[...]

BRZEZINSKI: The final ballots in Minnesota's still-undecided U.S. Senate race will be certified today, but that doesn't mean there is a winner. Democrat Al Franken has emerged with a 225-vote lead over incumbent Republican Norm Coleman, but now there is a seven-day waiting period pending any new lawsuits.

SCARBOROUGH: And there will be lawsuits, Mika.

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah, there will be.

SCARBOROUGH: As we reported earlier, The Wall Street Journal is writing today, reporting today, that there are a lot of discrepancies, a lot of inconsistencies, double votes being counted. In fact --

BRZEZINSKI: It's such a mess.

SCARBOROUGH: -- the Democratic secretary of state is saying --

BRZEZINSKI: It's a shame.

SCARBOROUGH: -- there are probably double vote counts, but we're going to certify it anyway, so it's going to be a mess.

BRZEZINSKI: It'll be interesting to follow that one.

[...]

BRZEZINSKI: And the final ballots in Minnesota's still-undecided U.S. Senate race will be certified today, but that does not mean there'll be a winner yet. Democrat Al Franken has emerged with a 225-vote lead over incumbent Republican Norm Coleman. But now, there is a seven-day waiting period pending any new lawsuits. Do you think there will be new lawsuits?

SCARBOROUGH: Oh, yeah. Let's check in right now with NBC News political director and NBC News chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd.

BRZEZINSKI: Newly minted.

SCARBOROUGH: Chuck, The Wall Street Journal reporting this morning that there are some irregularities in Minnesota. Tell me, how ugly do you think it's going to get before Franken's seated?

TODD: I don't think it's going to be that ugly, because it is -- you know, Minnesota isn't -- isn't like, well, Illinois, OK, where you feel like there's always corruption around the corner. It's a very clean-government state. This is a state that always has one of the highest voter turnouts. There's a lot of confidence in government in that state as opposed to other states. So, while I understand The Wall Street Journal editorial page's obsession over voting irregularities -- and it is a Journal obsession, led by John Fund, who is as knowledgeable about this stuff as anybody there is -- but I think they have the assumption of shenanigans when maybe we don't know that there are shenanigans in this case.

And I think you're -- this is what you're going to see today. Number one, Franken will be -- the canvass committee will say he's the winner. Now, the Republican governor and the Democratic secretary of state both have to certify it. The governor has said he's not going to certify it until all the lawsuits are done.

So the irony to this is, is I think you'll see Roland Burris as a United States senator before Al Franken, but it certainly looks like today that both of them are on their way to becoming senators.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Joe Scarborough
Show/Publication
Morning Joe
Stories/Interests
Al Franken, 2008 Elections
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