Shannon Bream hosted what purported to be an objective discussion about the Texas voter ID law yesterday. But instead of bringing any facts to the discussion, she allowed Texas Republican Louis Gohmert to make unsubstantiated and inflammatory accusations about Democrats and “balanced” them with brief statements from the other side, presented as opposing opinions – which she then opened the door for Gohmert to attack.
On America’s News HQ, which by definition indicates it’s part of Fox News supposedly “objective news” line up and not its “opinion programming,” Bream’s introduction gave a clue to which side would be favored. “Tomorrow the State of Texas squares off against the Justice Department in federal courts. At issue, the state’s new law requiring voters to show a proper photo ID in order to cast a ballot.”
What she didn’t mention is that the “proper” photo ID is restricted to government-issue ID’s and disallows student ID’s, a point of contention. As USAToday reported – but Bream did not:
In March, the federal agency struck down the 2011 Texas law, saying that based on Texas’ own data, more than 600,000 of the state’s registered voters lack a driver’s license or ID card issued by the state’s Department of Public Safety and a disproportional amount are Latino, the Star-Telegram reports. The Justice Department also maintained that providing free state cards from the public safety agency was not enough because 81 of Texas’ 254 counties don’t have offices, according to the news agency.
Bream did announce that Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee had been scheduled to appear along with Gohmert and that she had canceled. But was that really a reason for Bream to abdicate all responsibility for substantive balance and fact-checking, especially when she knew she was interviewing a partisan guest? Instead, she presented her “balance” in the form of opinion from the other side:
Often they say it is those groups that are going to be impacted – disenfranchised, essentially: older people, poor people and minorities. How do you counter that criticism of this kind of law?
Nice try, Ms. Bream, but the disenfranchisement is fact. She didn’t mention that there’s quite a bit of evidence to prove it. The Brennan Center for Justice, e.g., found that more than five million registered voters could be negatively impacted – enough to impact the national election. That potential impact was another fact Bream overlooked.
Gohmert answered, “They didn’t mind risking their lives (in Iraq)… and yet people are saying, ‘Well, Gee, it’s too inconvenient to get a photo ID?’ You’ve got to have it if you want to make an appointment with the Attorney General… or you’re not getting in the Justice Dept.”
Of course, voting is a right and getting into the DOJ isn’t. That was another fact Bream let go.
Gohmert went on to say that Georgia created a requirement for photo ID and “They haven’t disenfranchised minorities, there’s been an increased number of minorities – in fact, much more than the percentage of white voters that came out. It didn’t disenfranchise anybody.”
It’s true there was an increased number of minority voters in Georgia but it’s quite possible that even more would have voted had the law not been in place. It suggests that “more minority voters” equals “enough” to the likes of Gohmert. And, apparently, to Bream, too, because she didn’t challenge any bit of this speciousness.
Gohmert went on to take swipes at the Supreme Court and President Obama for “overriding all Congressional law on immigration.” Gohmert accused Obama of “making 800,000 to a million new illegals legal.” He said Pelosi “has been out there in previous years saying to illegals, ‘You know, you’re gonna run things. You know, get out there. You’re the true patriots.' Encouraging ‘em, basically, to go vote. So it’s very transparent. They’re creating illegals into potential voters. And then they do not want photo ID’s, which will allow dead people to continue to vote and it will allow those who shouldn’t be voting to vote.”
This is nothing short of outrageous. There is absolutely no evidence that President Obama or Nancy Pelosi are encouraging illegal voting. Furthermore, the Brennan Center for Justice released a study in 2007 called, The Truth About Voter Fraud, which extensively analyzed claims of voter fraud.
The truth of the matter is that voter fraud—votes knowingly cast by ineligible individuals—is exceedingly rare; one is more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit voter fraud. Our work debunking the voter fraud myth is available at Truth About Fraud.
The report finds that most allegations of fraud turn out to be baseless—and that of the few allegations remaining, most reveal election irregularities and other forms of election misconduct, rather than fraud by individual voters. The type of individual voter fraud supposedly targeted by recent legislative efforts—especially efforts to require certain forms of voter ID—simply does not exist.
Rather than cite real statistics, Bream again feigned balance by saying, “Folks on the side of this will say those are all scare tactics and there aren’t real cases of fraud that you could point to in Texas.”
Why do any real fact-checking when you can just spent a few seconds citing the opposition as an opinion and then give the guest much more time to further scare monger?
Sure enough, Gohmert said, “The fact is, we know people are not disenfranchised by requiring the requirement… This Attorney General, who knows nothing about justice, who testified right in front of me that there are political dimensions to justice – well, there goes for this administration justice being blind. What they want is a political Justice Department.”
You’d have to be blind not to get the racial implications of Gohmert’s last statement. Especially if you followed the phony New Black Panther controversy in which Megyn Kelly spent weeks accusing the Obama Justice Department of allowing scary black men to intimidate white voters because of a supposed policy of racial preference. Until she suddenly clammed up about it when challenged on the air by Democrat Kirsten Powers. Fox spent more than eight hours of airtime to the “controversy” and 88 seconds covering the report that debunked it.
Once again, not a peep of challenge from “objective” Bream to Gohmert’s inflammatory accusation. Instead, she chirped, “Congressman, we’ve gotta leave it there but this will go to a federal court tomorrow in D.C. and, of course, the Voting Rights Act Section 5 headed for the Supreme Court as well, so we’ll keep an eye on those battles.”
Yes, and we can guess from which side she’ll be doing the viewing.
Maybe Gomer* should’ve been reminded that when the IRAQI people went to the polls, they did NOT show any photo IDs that I’m aware of. They DID, however, have a pretty ingenious way to prevent any voter fraud: After the people cast their ballots, they got “purple-thumbed.” (Maybe the FoxNoise crew can pull up a couple of images of that—if they haven’t burned all their Iraq War-related footage.) And I don’t recall hearing anyone complain (there or here) about any massive voter fraud during those elections. (After the results were announced, on the other hand, there was a lot of griping and complaining from the right-wing’s “democracy supporters”; how DARE those ungrateful Iraqis vote for those crazy Muslim parties and not for OUR puppets!)
*Yes, that is a bit childish but it’s also a bit unfair to Jim Nabors. His Gomer was simply naive rather than stupid evil like this Gomer.
This is a tactic I have noticed Fox “News” using more and more lately. It saves time not having all that back and forth between between sides and it’s a way of saying they presented both sides of an issue. It’s really no different than a one-on-one softball interview. Lobbing a poorly phrased opinion over the plate so the guest can knock it out of the park.
Drop by Headly Westerfield’s Aunty Em Ericann blog, where I make great fun of Gretchen Carlson. http://notnowsilly.blogspot.com/
With all my love…yadda, yadda, yadda….