I Pay For A Newspaper to Get Facts Not “Who Knows?”

You see it every day: a critique of one of the Times’ typically lame bylined pieces from their DC bureau. We all know they’re awful. If the Times covered New York City politics in the wimpy, “who’s to say” way they covered DC politics, they’d be laughed out of town. The latest example is this weekend’s fact-famished both-sides-do-it take on voter fraud. But here’s Jay Rosen pointing out that weak coverage is weak business:

But it’s not that safe. Democrats argue/Republicans contend/We have No Idea… increasingly won’t cut it for the Times, or its competitors like the FT, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post. The upscale, high-information readers the Times wants to charge more money to, the core loyalists who are being asked to finance more of the operation— these users are increasingly likely to know about various preponderance-of-evidence calls independent of whether the Times knows enough to include that review in its reporting. When this kind of reader comes upon he said, she said reporting on a big story where it’s CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE, as with the right to vote: bad moment for the Times brand.

My sense: What was acceptably lame under market conditions that Bill Keller began with is a more corrosive practice today. I think The Masthead knows it. This is one of the reasons theycreated the Upshot, where preponderance of evidence, not a summary of partisan talking points, is supposed to be the baseline practice.

Yes, they did create the Upshot, and what I’ve seen is pretty OK, but readers are busy. Why do we need to hunt down the facts about voter fraud in the part of the Times where they deal with facts? Why do they print falsehoods on the front page? That’s how you send readers, not to mention precious clicks, to Vox or Five Thirty Eight.

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65 replies
  1. 1
    Schlemizel says:

    Increasingly I rely on Ironic Times for all the news thats fit to read. This weeks edition has a great graphic quiz on page 3

    ironictimes.com is one of the things that gets me out of bed on Monday. It’s news you can lose.

  2. 2
    Mudge says:

    Always remember that facts have a liberal bias. Marco Rubio phrased it best when discounting human contributions to climate change, he didn’t believe “that notion”. Republicans believe there is significant voter fraud, do not believe the origins of climate change and believe that fetuses feel pain. Detailing any facts that contradict these beliefs generates attacks. Democrats are less likely to attack when facts are absent. Newspapers are safer by being ambiguous.

  3. 3
    MomSense says:


    That is fantastic! I love the chart on page 3.

  4. 4
    c u n d gulag says:

    Bill Keller should be a 4 letter-word.

  5. 5
    Comrade Jake says:

    I’ve pretty much given up listening to NPR in the mornings because of this same sort of bullshit. All they do is report on what each side is “saying”. It’s maddening.

  6. 6
    danielx says:

    Why do we need to hunt down the facts about voter fraud in the part of the Times where they deal with facts? Why do they print falsehoods on the front page?

    How do I count the ways…

    Because the Times is nervous about being criticized by Brent Bozell and Michelle Malkin and David Gregory and assorted flying monkeys?

    Because of concern over losing “access” if they print something the wrong person doesn’t like? (Whether access is actually worth anything if unused is a whole ‘nother question.)

    For the Times as well as every other mainstream media outlet*: boys and girls, you may as well go ahead and the truth as it is, because it’s not going to make you any less credible with wingnuts – they don’t believe you have any credibility anyway and they’re not walking around bent over double with concern for getting the facts either. If it doesn’t come from Fox News they don’t believe it, which is why they keep getting hit over the head with the heavy sack of shit known as reality.

    So you might as well do your fucking jobs and report the facts as they are. Which in the instance of the column about Aqua Buddha’s apostasy just might include something about how the supposed epidemic of voter fraud is, like, nonexistent. The problem there is that wingnuts have come to view any election that doesn’t produce the results they want as fraudulent.

    *Mainstream does not include Fox News.

  7. 7
    aimai says:

    I always thought the Times temporized on facts not for fear of Brent Bozell et al but because a certain number of its own readership are Republicans and don’t want to be reminded that they are the party of lies and deceit. you guys aren’t under the impression that the only people who read the Times are liberals, are you?

  8. 8
    MomSense says:

    Go check out the advertisers at the New York Times. Pretty sure this will explain why they do what they do.

  9. 9
    Paul in KY says:

    @aimai: I know the owners of the Times are not liberals.

  10. 10
    Eric U. says:

    I always figured it was the advertisers that were republican. Seems like this matters less in a digital world, but old habits die hard

  11. 11
    MomSense says:

    @Eric U.:

    The Times online is full of ads for HSBC, TD Ameritrade, etc.

  12. 12
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    @Mudge: Marco Rubio phrased it best when discounting human contributions to climate change, he didn’t believe “that notion”.

    I don’t believe in that “Marco Rubio” notion that some people have been nattering about. Sounds like a fictitious stereotype of a slimy weathervane politician.

  13. 13
    Morzer says:

    @Snarki, child of Loki:

    Well, I don’t believe in your notion of disbelieving in the notion of Marco Rubio. A colleague of a friend of a third cousin fourth times removed’s dogwalker’s acupunturist’s accountant says she’s 75.3%* certain she saw a man just like him walking down the street in Punxsutawney not five years ago.

    *I blame Nate Silver for the new interest in percentage points of certainty. Young people these days!

  14. 14
    some guy says:

    Anne Barnard: ” Some say al Qaeda is bad, while others I Skype with from Beirut say al Qaeda has given the Syrian people a new sense of order. al Qaeda pledges to make the trains run on time, something the Assad regime seems incapable of doing during the current fighting.”

  15. 15
    Botsplainer says:

    Everything about modern Republicanism/Conservatism is moored in the 10 year period from 1964-1974.

    The financial side was willing to go with civil rights and The Great Society (butter) as long as they got their guns side with Vietnam. Nixon’s silent majority really did exist at the time (or at least, call it “a majority of the plurality,accompanied by a complacent group of go-alongs”), but once a minority too large to ignore rose in opposition to a reckless, pointless and unwinnable involvement in Vietnam, those “go-alongs” flipped their inaction to the liberal side on war politics.

    Nixon was canny enough to toss some domestic and foreign policy bones to liberals and progressives, even as he slooooooooooowly wound down the war. His presidency would have ended on a positive note, and he’d have probably been followed by some relatively inoffensive moderate GOPer had it not been for the bloodlust of his aides in spiking the ball into McGovern’s face in 1972. Once he committed his crimes in the coverup and all the Congress decided to line up against him, the activists took note and seemed to decide “no more bones will be thrown, and we shall expect loyalty and purity from everyone aligned with the faction”.

    He was a complicated guy, and a fairly gifted pol with some sociopathic tendencies that a better set of aides probably wouldn’t have triggered. If I were to guess, I’d say that the truly poisonous personalities in the whole morass were Mitchell, Ehrlichmann and Haldeman. I’m wondering now how much involvement they had in the disastrous selection of Spiro Agnew as VP.

    ETA: back to main point – after Watergate, there were huge demands from Nixons Silent Majority for the media to say positive things and to quit tearing down the icons of conservatism – the military, showing Christian hypocrisy, showing failures of laissez faire business practices. The media listened, USA Today was born, the idiot point-counterpoint pieces achieved prominence, and voila, the current environment arose.

  16. 16
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Botsplainer: If I were to guess, I’d say that the truly poisonous personalities in the whole morass were

    Ever heard of a guy named Henry Kissinger?

  17. 17
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Botsplainer: BTW, USA Today was started *8 years* after Nixon resigned.

  18. 18
    Botsplainer says:

    Another point – I posit that only about 1/3 of the boomers are reliably liberal/progressive on both social and economic issues. Probably a solid 40-45% still want to kick hippie asses and of the rest, 10% are completely apolitical with the remainder tending toward conservatism.

  19. 19
    JGabriel says:

    @danielx: @danielx:

    *Mainstream does not include Fox News.

    Sadly, I’m afraid mainstream does include Fox News. Worthwhile journalism is the rarity these days, while repeating conservative talking points for today’s audience, well-mixed with celebrity interviews to clear the bitter taste from the palate, is simply de rigueur.

  20. 20
    Botsplainer says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I know. It takes a while for shit to bubble. It met the most fervent wishes of people like my grandmother, who hated reading about conservative failure in investigative pieces.

    If a nice white man in a good suit said or did something, it was good enough for her, no further investigation needed. Investigations tear down good things, y’know. America #1!!!

    My grandfather (lifelong union guy, former CCC draftee, 4 time FDR voter, Eisenhower Republican) was more complex, and didn’t mind muckraking even though he had some wingnut tendencies.

  21. 21
    Morzer says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Is Kissinger the sparkly vampire with whom all the wannabe hard boyz fall in love at the end of Season Three? I don’t keep up with youf culture the way I probably should.

  22. 22
    JGabriel says:


    you guys aren’t under the impression that the only people who read the Times are liberals, are you?

    No, but I am under the impression that any Republican who regularly reads the Times would be regarded by the majority of his/her party as a Republican In Name Only.

  23. 23
    Botsplainer says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Ever heard of a guy named Henry Kissinger?

    Doctor Dumbass? Ridiculous notions, but not evil as an individual.

  24. 24
    Tommy says:

    I bought my first newspaper in maybe three or four years yesterday. I kid you not needed to wrap a lot of glassware to pack away. Only reason I bought it. Ponder that.

    I have a MA in Journalism …..

    When I didn’t work in Journalism (which lasted less then a year) I often had a WSJ, NYT, and Washington Post on my desk each day. It was wonderful. I like ink on my fingers. But they now suck. I don’t care. Bet most others don’t care either.

  25. 25
    JGabriel says:


    It takes a while for shit to bubble.

    Ah, Shakespeare. Cut from the rough draft of the three witches scene in Macbeth, if I remember correctly.

  26. 26

    I believe this is called a ‘death spiral’. All the causes mentioned are self-reinforcing, and if you’ll notice, it’s not just one factor that pushes national journalism towards conservative coddling he-said-she-said. Just about every influence on national journalism you can name pushes them to the right.

    I’d like to highlight the ‘country club’ aspect. National journalists are a social group. Once they started drifting towards being useless center-right bullshitters, they screened new entrants to their group to be like themselves. Thirty years of this, and they’re all sitting around nodding about how wise their hero Brokaw is as he launches into a racism-tinged rant about Americans have it too easy and for their own good need to learn to live without ‘entitlements’.

  27. 27
    danielx says:


    I have to disagree, although I hear you. The Times, to a lesser degree the Post, McClatchy and other outlets still do excellent stories, when a particular story is straight fact reporting and doesn’t involve trying to do the he said/she said mambo. Nor do they back off from a president simply because he (or she, as might be) is the president, as one William Jefferson Clinton can testify. Fox doesn’t practice journalism as such. Its polemics are very explicitly designed to either a) show conservatives in a favorable light, which is getting more difficult by the day, or b) show (if necessary, make up) something bad about somebody or something that wingnut world doesn’t like, which isn’t all that difficult since wingnuts don’t appear to like much except tax cuts and bombing brown people.

    Or both. Preferably both. The Fox News audience isn’t noted for its attention to or need for logical consistency.

    As for treatment of incumbent presidents…Fox spent years demonizing Bill Clinton, just as they’ve spent years demonizing Obama – in the latter case more vehemently because their audience hates Obama the way the devil hates holy water. But for the other guys…remember all those Fox News stories talking about how W was an incompetent moron whose foreign and financial policies were running the country into the ground?

    Yeah, me neither.

  28. 28
    Kay says:

    The real crime is that the voter impersonation lie took hold at all, and it did take hold. Major media only started treating it as a lie around 2010, but it was always untrue. It was always verifiably untrue and should have been immediately suspect because it is a crazy accusation that doesn’t make any sense.

    The NYTimes or any newspaper doesn’t have some kind of duty to treat every claim as presumptively true until the accused (here, minority, young and low income voters) prove it isn’t true. That’s backward. It’s supposed to work the other way.

    Republicans made the claim that voter impersonation fraud was a problem. They were the people making the claim. It’s an accusation. It’s grounded in the idea that certain groups of people commit felony voter fraud and that this crime they’re committing has gone undetected. That’s an outrageous accusation. It should trigger an immediate demand that they back it up, but it didn’t! Instead we got a decade where Republicans were given the benefit of the doubt and the millions of people that Republicans were accusing of voter fraud were not, even though the people Republicans were accusing were actually harmed by these laws.

    They extended presumptive credibility to Republicans and denied it to the people Republicans were targeting.

    They should examine why they did that, and why it took them a decade to demand that Republicans back the claim up. Why would major media assume certain groups of people were regularly committing this improbable crime? Why would major media assume certain groups of people were walking into polling places and impersonating someone else? Does it make ANY sense, just on the face of it?

    It’s particularly disturbing because of the whole voting rights history in this country. It’s flat-out nuts to give a group of powerful people presumptive credibility when they’re narrowing access the the vote. NOTHING in our history suggests that’s on the up and up. THAT claim in particular should be treated with the utmost caution and care, because it’s NEVER been well-intended. We know that. It’s not up for debate.

    Basically, my take-away from this whole sorry spectacle is powerful people can say anything about a group of less powerful people and the powerful people will be believed and the less powerful people will be harmed until they can disprove the claim. That sucks, and that’s what they should look at because it goes to who THEY consider credible.

  29. 29
    Kay says:

    Rand Paul still doesn’t believe them. Rand Paul didn’t say “we spread an outrageous lie about you and wrote it into state codes”. He said “we’re sorry you took offense”

    Those are two different things.

    He’s now denying them even their (justifiable) anger. He’s made it about hurt feelings. It’s not about hurt feelings. It’s about laws they wrote that were grounded in an outrageous and insulting lie that they deliberately spread. He’s denying their agency as credible people who are making a specific claim. It’s a pat on the head. That these idiots are falling all over themselves to congratulate him is disgusting.

    They’re still handing all the power to the accuser. They’re still denying the substance of the claim. Voting rights advocates don’t want or need Rand Paul’s blessing. They want Rand Paul to stop backing laws that narrow the right to vote. They’re his equal. He doesn’t have to “give” them credibility or the benefit of the doubt. They should have HAD that, and now they’ve EARNED it because they disproved the claims of Republicans.

  30. 30
    Schlemizel says:

    You are missing the fact that a great deal of the effort the Nixon team put in for his reelection was to insure that it was McGovern that got the nomination. Donald Segretti and company worked a ton of dirty trick against the 8 Dems who polled better than Nixon. This in no small part led to the ugly convention where a lot of hurt feelings were misdirected against Dems instead of the actual source of the filth.

    Nixon was the prototype of the modern GOP in that it was all about power, governance came in a distant second.

  31. 31
    Kay says:

    How did a lie that is unbelievable on its face get so far? Who is responsible for that happening?

    Let’s make a list. The liars. The media who extended a decade of credibility on an easily disprovable claim. Judges. going all the way to the Supreme Court.

    Will it happen again? Sure! They’re probably cooking up and outrageous accusation right now! What’s to stop it from happening again? Tomorrow is a new day and they’re still as presumptively credible and bullet-proof as they were yesterday, no matter how many times this happens.

  32. 32
    Paul in KY says:

    @Kay: Alot of the people promoting that meme were columnists who are basically GOP mouthpieces.

    They’re not going to let the facts get in the way of a good (for them) story.

  33. 33
    scav says:

    Um, the brief textual gloss around an animated population pyramid is what I’m supposed to get excited over as data-driven news? What Have I been missing. well, here kudos for being better than graphics in USAToday. Appetizers in a news diet I suppose must be counted a step.

  34. 34
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Kay: I think part of what goes on is a kind of dog-whistling to the paranoid that accomplishes a slippage of evidential standards. The people supporting voter ID laws don’t really have to make the case that voter impersonation fraud is a major problem that swings elections. They just have to insist that it could hypothetically be a problem, and point to the use of IDs to use your credit card and drive a car, and sound generally very reasonable, while winking in the direction of the people who believe that Obama is busing in a thousand illegal immigrants to swing the local school board election.

    It’s the same thing with Benghazi. The whole thing is red meat for the people who believe that Obama is a Muslim Brotherhood stooge who intentionally let terrorists kill his own ambassador. That story is crazy. But the people at the top who keep harping on Benghazi don’t publicly assert the crazy, they just make some convoluted meta-assertion about Susan Rice’s talking points and whether or not somebody used the word “terrorism”, so they don’t get called on it. It’s all insinuation that doesn’t have to be defended.

  35. 35
    Kay says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Right, but that’s columnists, opinion pieces. Once the laws started to go in (2005) why wasn’t there an immediate call for them to back these claims up?

    It took a decade for voting rights people to disprove this.

    Ten years. It shouldn’t take ten years, unless something else is going on, some bias or extension of unearned credibility to one side and a denial of presumptive credibility to the other.

    That’s fucked up. It isn’t supposed to happen. It’s WORSE than “both sides”. It’s “one side is credible and the other side is not”. It doesn’t even make sense in terms of process. Republicans were the moving party. They were CHANGING the laws. The burden should have been on them to explain why they needed to change the laws in 26 states! Instead, voting rights advocates were ordered to disprove these claims which were accepted as fact. WTF?

    I think that indicates bias. For some reason, these claims were EASY to believe. People who said it was voter suppression were treated like eccentric crackpots. It was incredible to watch.

  36. 36
    Kay says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    I agree with you to a certain extent, but I also believe that the targets of the laws mattered. African Americans, Latinos, poor people and young people were considered presumptively less credible than the people who were targeting them. I think that’s worth examining.

    There have been so many investigations into voter fraud and so many claims have been disproved, but one in Maine sticks out to me. Maine did an elaborate examination of young people, looking for voter fraud. They found NONE. Not one or two. None. It didn’t matter. The voter fraud train kept rolling. It took a huge pile of these cases to move the needle. Why was that? What bias did we start out with? Felony voter fraud is a serious accusation. Why were they allowed to fling it around until it became “true” and then became “untrue” a decade later?

    Part of my objection is practical. We are always moving backward and then getting back to the same place. We don’t have decades! I mean, Jesus Christ. Conservatives can gum up the works for years. :)

  37. 37
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Schlemizel: wow, 2000 called and they want their web design back

    what is it, a low rent Onion with a few real news items snuck in just to baffle you? I know I’ve seen that graph in the last week, I think it had something to do with Fox News coverage of Benghazibenghazibenghazi.

  38. 38
    Kay says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    There’s an opportunity cost. Voting administration is actually an issue. We could do a lot better with it. We could make voting easier, not more difficult. Just in terms of competent government people shouldn’t be waiting on lines in Florida.

    But we screwed around with voter impersonation fraud for a decade, and spent tens of millions of dollars on it. The provisional ballot situation in Ohio ALONE is a mess. It’s litigated endlessly and we have an absolutely damning federal opinion that should have inspired fixes, yet it will continue for years while we chase voter impersonation fraud. It’s bad government, bad management.

  39. 39
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Botsplainer: In a thousand years Kissinger could not wipe all the blood from his hands!

    More proof there is no god — Kissinger and my wife’s grandfather came from the same small town in Bavaria* and were about the same age. Opa survived the Holocaust in a camp in Switzerland, and emigrated to the US where his Swiss diploma got his foot in the door at an engineering firm. Well, Opa passed away a couple of years ago and Henry Kissinger is still alive.

    *-it was all too close to Nazi stronghold Nürnberg–it’s said Nuernbergers arrived in a bus to burn down the synagogue on Kristallnacht

  40. 40
    pseudonymous in nc says:


    I always thought the Times temporized on facts not for fear of Brent Bozell et al but because a certain number of its own readership are Republicans and don’t want to be reminded that they are the party of lies and deceit.

    I think that’s going further than needed.

    The American mode of “respectable high-end political journalism” is simply not in the business of stating primary facts. They report the fact that politicians are saying things, not whether the things they say are factual, because to do so would be uncouth.

  41. 41
    Chris says:


    “Both sides do it” always has an unspoken corollary, “but Democrats are worse.” So, really, it’s always meant “one side is trustworthy and the other is not.”

  42. 42
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Kay: While investigations after the vote don’t seem to turn up much voting fraud, I’ve heard of two examples of neighborhood block voting that are troubling.

    One, in the Republican Cuban neighborhoods in Miami, apparently at church on Sunday some residents would give others their voting cards to vote for them. Such a scheme relied on: consent, and poll watchers and election volunteers either knowing this was going on and letting it happen or not being able to tell those people apart. It seems unlikely that photo ID would hamper this considerably because if someone is so adverse to going to the polls on Tuesday they would probably lend their ID just as readily. Early voting, automatic absentee ballot would make such practices irrelevant.

    It’s also claimed that in a recent election some in the ultra-Orthodox community were organizing young men to show up at the precinct to vote for names that hadn’t yet voted. They were being challenged but there were also shenanigans involving blocking poll watchers earlier in the day. (It should be noted that some ultra-Orthodox in Israel have been busted big time for electoral fraud in municipal elections.) When the paper managed to get some of the kids to talk they said they felt it was okay because “the community” did so much for them.

    There’s always a considerable amount of coercion and social pressure in community block voting, and a certain disrespect for law, typically because the community either feels entitled or because they have fostered a fear of outsiders that justifies illicit behavior in order to “protect” the community.

    This isn’t the boogyman that voter ID laws are intended to prevent … and how would ID matter if poll watchers are being illegally barred from the polling place anyway? What good is ID if community members are “helping” the elderly fill out ballots in nursing homes?

    We cause more problems than we solve by not having truly UNIVERSAL suffrage. National holiday, inked on exit, and polling stations everywhere would be more transparent (assuming nothing happened to those ballot boxes on their way to the canvass).

  43. 43
    Kay says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    It’s the same thing with Benghazi

    It’s not the same thing, and here’s why. Benghazi is about bad actors in government, powerful people.

    Voter impersonation fraud is about millions of ordinary voters. Elected Republicans targeted voters for a smear campaign and media went along with it. THAT is wild.

    That also defies common sense. It flips the ordinary approach on its head. A normal unbiased person would say ‘wait a minute, aren’t state actors usually the people we look at with suspicion in a state-run process?” That’s true, too! Any massive voter fraud scheme would come from state actors! They’re in the positions to pull it off.

    But, no, just in this one case we said ‘those voters in Milwaukee are committing fraud, and that’s obviously why Russ Feingold was elected”. I think that has to do with who those voters ARE.

  44. 44
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Another Holocene Human: In Brooklyn during the election for DA; the block voters lost, but by a slim margin.

  45. 45
    Paul in KY says:

    @Kay: I don’t think our side (the people who can get in the news/our columnists, such as they are) pushed back hard enough with: “Lots of poor voters do not have picture IDs. They have no cars. The GOP thinks all these people vote Democratic & that’s why they want these laws to ‘fix’ a non-existant crime”

    Uphill climb, as you eloquently noted.

  46. 46
    Another Holocene Human says:


    I agree with you to a certain extent, but I also believe that the targets of the laws mattered. African Americans, Latinos, poor people and young people were considered presumptively less credible than the people who were targeting them. I think that’s worth examining.


  47. 47
    Kay says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    If they want to do voter ID issue a national voter ID and pay for it. Mexico reformed their whole voting system with a federal ID. It didn’t matter, the voter fraud fraudsters still claimed fraud, but at least they put their money where their mouth is.

    Republicans can’t have it both ways. They can’t scream about voter fraud (and undocumented immigrants, BTW) and yet refuse any provision to remedy their complaints in an equitable manner. They pull this shit again and again, where they put the burden of regulation on certain people, individuals. They do it with gun laws, too. It’s somehow my job to avoid their gun tragedies, because gun owners refuse to take responsibility and accept some reasonable regulation of themselves.

  48. 48
    Paul in KY says:

    @Kay: Maybe the GOP reps knew it had been done…by themselves, so definitely those perfidious Democrats can do it too. Ipso, facto, smacko…

  49. 49
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Kay: Well, we all know what a fucking joke that is–REAL ID makes it fucking impossible in practical terms for poor people and old people to get state ID’s so they’re fucked from the get-go. You need the proper ID to get the proper ID, a perfectly closed loop of derp.

    That’s why I said let’s just do hand dipping in ink like they do in Africa and have real, universal suffrage, instead of splitting hairs over resident aliens and undocumented and student visas and ooga booga furrinerssss.

  50. 50
    Paul in KY says:

    @Kay: The reasons (as you know) are just to try & depress Democratic turnout by hook or by crook. That’s what they do. Why the MSM went along with it, alot of them are GOP leaning & they also think this (voter supression) is a political tactic & it is up to the Democratic party to do a counterattack (not them).

  51. 51
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Paul in KY: Your theory has merit.

    I’d say right-wingers in general. It was suspected for years (but never proven) that there was ballot stuffing going on in South Boston. Although they were nominally urban machine Democrats they were some of the biggest right wingers in the state. (Until about a decade ago–the Southie hold has been breaking down and the GOP went for asshole exurban voters in a big way and is going Foxified, while the Rockefeller Republicans had already changed parties.)

  52. 52
    Kay says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Honestly, it was more than that. This is a white rural area and everyone drives. I simply wasn’t taken seriously. They humored me, because I know them and I help on their issues, but they didn’t think it was a real problem, Democrats here. It really only hit locally for our people when they were trying to repeal Kasich’s collective bargaining law and they panicked, because they knew they needed AA urban voters in the “Three C’s” (three big Ohio cities).

    By 2012, they were completely on board, but it took white Democrats a decade too. It’s like two different worlds. The issue resonates so much with black people for obvious reasons, but in my experience white Democrats simply didn’t get it, not on a gut level. There was a huge disparity in intensity and passion. I got tons of hand-waving, even on this site when I started writing about it.

  53. 53
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Paul in KY: A lot of privileged suburban people, the same demo that vote with the most frequency, could not imagine that it would be at all difficult for ANYONE to get an ID, after all it was trivial for them. And they were always bummed during presidential elections when those mysterious last in urban canvass reports would turn over the results to the other party. It had to be fraud! (Not, say, inadequate # of polling stations, more antique equipment, people who had to wait until after work to vote, and infrequent, inconsistent voters turning out for ‘the big one’.)

    so yeah, it was very, very easy to believe for those sitting in the driver’s seat. It takes a long time for people’s paradigms to shift–they have to hear the same message over and over again for learning.

  54. 54
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Kay: Ten years is a long time. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those white Democrats or somebody in their family eventually ended up on the wrong side of REAL ID.

    Although going to the DMV was always a PITA thanks to state budget cuts in Florida, before REAL ID there were a lot of options for poor people, people born at home, etcet to still obtain state ID. Not any fucking more.

  55. 55
    Patrick says:

    @Comrade Jake:

    I’ve pretty much given up listening to NPR in the mornings because of this same sort of bullshit. All they do is report on what each side is “saying”. It’s maddening.

    Yup. It is no different than “liberals claim the world is round, while the GOP on the other hand thinks it is flat. We have to leave it there…”

    How fricking dumb does NPR, or CNN and other ones think I am? Just give me facts. This is why I don’t waste my precious time with NPR etc. It is pure garbage. I will never forget how NPR help cheer-lead the Iraq war back in 2002-2003.

  56. 56
    J R in WV says:

    The whole Voter ID thing is a smoke screen. I see people here talking about taking the “ballot boxes” back to town for counting. This is so not the case today I wonder if any of you have voted in the past 10 or 15 years?

    There are NO ballot boxes anymore! None. There are voting machines, most of which are totally NOT transparent.

    2004 Ohio went for W Bush because the CEO of Diebold promised that it would. They made the voting machines, specifically without the same audit trail equipment that all of the ATM machines they manufacture are required to have by the banks. Why? So they could cheat without being detected!

    All this Voter ID nonsense is to distract from the fact that the counting of the votes has been totally stolen in many places by Republican businessmen building non-transparent voting machines.

    I spent my career doing work developing computer systems. Our systems had edit trails built in, no data was over written, it was changed to a new fact entered, the old fact was kept with an end date, the ID/timestamp of the person entering the new fact was kept, and none of this is true for voting machines.

    Vote totals are generated internally by a “master” voting machine that reads the data from the individual machines.

    Who knows where that total really comes from?

    When was the last time the machines were visited by a tech from the company? Is there any way for that tech to know what a software update really does? No. Nor the County Clerk responsible for the voting totals.

    In the bad old days there were paper ballots, and people counted them in public at tables in the courthouse. Reporters watched, and phoned numbers to the newsrooms of every little newspaper. Cheating required a conspiracy, many people were involved, and the authorities had little trouble breaking up these conspiracies, even here in West Virginia.

    Smoke screen hiding the real conspiracy – the Republican way!

  57. 57
    Paul in KY says:

    @Kay: When I was a teenager, I counted the days till I could get my driver’s license. All my contemparies (almost all white) did too. Even if I wouldn’t have a car of my own for years & had to beg to borrow the family one, it was a big deal (to me).

    Have to think a bit to put yourself in situation where you wouldn’t have a need for a driver’s license. I had to use my parent’s car when I took my test. They don’t give you one unless you can pass (in someone’s car).

    Whitebread America is a smug place. Very insular too.

  58. 58
    Paul in KY says:

    @J R in WV: That is certainly a problem. A tremendous one, if our worst fears are true.

    However, this fake voter-id stuff is a big deal. the thing you talked about up above is a major felony (if caught). The thing Kay is talking about is being enshrined in law & is totally legal.

  59. 59
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Another Holocene Human:

    In the last one of these threads, rikyrah pointed out that up until at least 1965 (and probably later) African-Americans in the South were almost always born at home because there were no hospitals nearby who would accept them as patients, and the midwives would file the birth certificate or not, as she pleased.

    I realize it was cultural blindness on my part but, holy shit, it never even occurred to me that people only 5 years older than me could have a birth certificate problem.

  60. 60
    Kay says:

    @Paul in KY:

    It was interesting to watch, because Sherrod Brown and Dick Durbin got it. I went to one of their “field hearings” on voting rights and to be blunt the entire thing was led by black Democrats. Brown and Durbin get it because they live in states where THOSE AA leaders are a crucial part of their constituency, their coalition. There was no “both sides”. Black leaders want it addressed and they have some real power with those two Senators. It was nice to watch because this isn’t about “interest groups” or “pandering” which is how it’s always portrayed in media. This was a civil rights demand from a group of people who know their own power and are using it.

    That’s SO different from this mealy-mouthed, patronizing ” I feel you pain” shit from Rand Paul, because it’s a discussion among equals, it’s black leaders exercising their political power within the Democratic Party.

  61. 61
    Gene108 says:


    The lack of outrage over the 2000 Florida voter purge, IMO set the stage for further restrictions on voting.

    For American conservatives their attitude to thousands of their fellow Americans being deprived of a Constitutional right was “good, my guy won”.

    This creates a roadblock to not restricting voting rights, because a good chunk of voters are either apathetic or supportive of those efforts.

  62. 62
    Chris says:

    @J R in WV:

    The whole Voter ID thing is a smoke screen.

    And everyone knows it. One of the things that struck me about reading right-wing websites back when I still did it (PJMedia, RedState, Instapundit) was how widespread and uncontroversial among their commenters it was to say that Democratic voters simply shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

    That’s what the 47%er meme is about – poor people shouldn’t vote, because they have no skin in the game, they’re just going to vote themselves other people’s money and destroy the system. But it goes even beyond that to all sorts of other categories of voters whose only common denominator is “they don’t vote for us.” Students? They’re young and stupid and brainwashed by left-wing academia. You can’t really trust them to vote. If you do, they’ll vote left-wing. Muslims? They’re all infiltrators who’ll vote against us just like the Pope their mullahs tell them to. Heck, I’ve even read a commenter going “Americans living abroad shouldn’t be allowed to vote. I say this even though I’m an American living abroad. Because most of them vote Democrat.”

    They know (“they” = not just their political strategists, but pretty much the entire base) that suppressing Democratic votes is the ends in itself. We know that suppressing Democratic votes is the ends in itself. Which just makes the pundits’ endless “voter impersonation fraud is a very serious problem!” charade that much more of a farce.

  63. 63
    Chris says:


    The lack of outrage over the 2000 Florida voter purge, IMO set the stage for further restrictions on voting.


    We’re pretty much back to the Gilded Age standard, with poll taxes screwing significant amounts of poor people out of their right to vote and machine politics rigging elections in favor of the rich and powerful.

  64. 64
    redoubt says:

    @Mnemosyne: My mother, born in Louisiana in the 1930s, has two birthdays–the date she was born, and the date her birth certificate was filed, three weeks later. (You need not ask what race.)

    @Chris: I live in a state where this happened, and he’s still on the ballot. Republican? Of course.

  65. 65
    Morzer says:


    It’s worth remembering that New Hampshire’s Republican junta made noises about students not being mature enough to vote and hinted at legislative measures to “correct” the situation.

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