Fox News host Megyn Kelly began the network's substantive coverage of oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, the current Voting Rights Act case before the Supreme Court, by incorrectly reporting the reach of the Voting Rights Act as limited to select states, while also appearing entirely unaware that this historic law has prevented voter suppression against limited-English proficient speakers since 1975.
On the February 27 edition of America Live, Kelly hosted a segment on the constitutional challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the provision that requires certain jurisdictions with histories of racial discrimination to federally "pre-clear" election changes prior to enactment, reminding viewers it's the "biggest civil rights case in decades." However, both Kelly and Fox News reporter Shannon Bream neglected to inform viewers that the constitutional challenge is only to the "pre-clearance" provision and repeatedly reported the Voting Rights Act as limited to those Section 5-covered jurisdictions. Fox also ran a map of those states covered by Section 5 (mistakenly labeled as "Covered By Voting Act Entirely") and Kelly asked "Alaska? Is that right?"
The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed on the Voting Rights Act by Edward Blum, founder of the in-house legal project of the right-wing's Donors Trust, but failed to disclose his ties to the Supreme Court's VRA case, Shelby County v. Holder. The op-ed, which identifies Blum as a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and director of the Donors Trust-supported Project on Fair Representation, recycles misinformation about the challenge that has been extensively and widely debunked.
In a paid speaking engagement before the Lane Country (Oregon) Republican Party, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin attacked fellow Fox News employee Karl Rove for running an "incumbency protection racket" and decried the treatment of conservative candidates "thrown under the bus by feckless Republicans."
In an excerpt of her speech on February 22 posted to YouTube, Malkin referred to Rove's "Conservative Victory Project," which is reportedly an attempt to promote more electable Republican candidates while attacking primary candidates who are unlikely to win races, as "an incumbency protection racket."
She accused Rove of "badmouthing conservatives who've had a problem with big government Republican policies of which he is the primary architect" and "badmouthing good candidates who stepped up to the plate when no one else would, who were savaged by the media and then thrown under the bus by feckless Republicans." She declared, "that's not the kind of Republican Party I want to belong to."
Malkin blamed "big government Republicans" for helping to create the "seeds that were planted" that led to the Tea Party movement because "conservatives were sick of seeing their money squandered on people who did not believe in their principles."
Other conservatives have recently panned Rove's new organization, describing them as "snakes in the GOP grass" and "the Bush insider team that helped lead to the rise of Barack Obama." Fox hosts, contributors and frequent guests like Mark Levin, Erick Erickson, Liz Cheney and Mike Huckabee have also attacked Rove for this initiative.
Attendees at the dinner paid $95 per person to hear Malkin speak (lowered from the previous price of $125). According to a report in the Register-Guard, the Lane County Republican Party paid a deposit of $7,500 towards Malkin's speaking fee, and planned a "private reception" with Malkin for "45 to 50" people paying $500 each. On her personal website, Malkin notes that "my speaking fee is high."
Conservative media's Charlotte Allen recently wrote an extensive cover piece for The Weekly Standard that relies on discredited right-wing activists Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams to attack the Department of Justice's renewed focus on properly enforcing the Voting Rights Act. But while conservative media typically advances these sources and their debunked myths, it is disturbing that mainstream coverage of the Supreme Court case of Shelby County v. Holder is relying on von Spakovsky and not disclosing his highly unreliable background.
Allen, responsible for a piece dubbed "The Stupidest Thing Anyone Has Written About Sandy Hook" by lamenting in National Review Online that no men or "huskier 12-year-old boys" were available to protect the "feminized" victims of the Newtown massacre, takes on the "politiciz[ed]" DOJ under President Obama in her story for the The Weekly Standard. In the article, Allen manages to repeat most of von Spakovsky's and Adams' stale misinformation of years past, ranging from the non-scandalous New Black Panther fiasco and non-existent Fast and Furious conspiracy, to DOJ's "belligerent stances" on enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Allen also successfully writes over 6,500 words on the alleged "politicizing" of DOJ without divulging von Spakovsky and Adams were poster children for such conduct when they worked for the DOJ under George W. Bush, disparages U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder because his "people" are not black enough to claim civil rights history, and finally undermines her main thesis by admitting that - under any presidency - DOJ follows the policy preferences of the White House.
Ultimately, however, that Allen uses the collected works of von Spakovsky and Adams is unsurprising. What is troublesome is that mainstream outlets are also publishing the opinions of von Spakovsky and Adams as the "conservative" perspectives on Shelby without disclosing their extremist background.
From the February 21 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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The war of words on the right continues to escalate, with radio host Mark Levin becoming the latest Fox News figure to attack Fox political analyst Karl Rove. In a February 8 post on his Facebook page, Levin accused Rove of lying about conservative Rep. Steve King (R-IA). Earlier in the week on his radio show, Levin claimed Rove is "despised by the grassroots" and said Rove's name and new political group "are poison in conservative and Republican circles in many respects."
Rove has recently been at the center of a conservative firestorm over the announcement of his new group, Conservative Victory Project, which the New York Times explains will work "to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts."
Levin -- a frequent Fox News guest who has agreed to make regular appearances on Sean Hannity's Fox show -- wrote on his Facebook page that Rove "flat out lied" during an appearance on Sean Hannity's radio show. According to Levin, Rove told Hannity that Rep. Steve King (R-IA) had "endorse[d]" controversial comments about rape made by defeated Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin. Levin added, "This is the kind of sleaziness conservatives are fed up with. And Rove went on national radio and smeared King with this lie."
King, who is reportedly considering running for a Senate seat in Iowa, has been identified as the type of conservative Rove's organization would likely target. Steven Law, president of American Crossroads, the super PAC co-founded by Rove that created the Conservative Victory Project, has expressed concern about King's history of extreme comments, which Law labeled his "Todd Akin problem."
Levin has also targeted Rove on his radio show. On February 7, Levin declared that Rove is "despised by the grassroots," mocked his "stupid little third-grade whiteboard," then brought "my buddy" King on the show and said: "Steve King and all you conservatives out there who are thinking about running in these primaries and so forth -- your best commercial is going to be that your opponent is funded by Karl Rove. I'm serious, Steve King -- I think Karl Rove's name, I think his organization are poison in conservative and Republican circles in many respects." Levin added, "Bring it on, Karl baby. Bring it on, doughboy. Bring on your little whiteboard. We're ready." During the same show, Levin also labeled Rove a "propagandist."
Fox News contributor Karl Rove recently formed a group that will, in the words of The New York Times, work "to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts." That doesn't sit well with Rove's Fox News colleague Mike Huckabee, who called Rove's Conservative Victory Project "absolutely repulsive" and suggested that people like Rove are spending millions "to destroy a Republican that you don't think is up to your country club level" during a February 8 interview.
Listen to Huckabee's comments from Cumulus Radio Networks' Geraldo:
RIVERA: Karl Rove says the Republican Party has to go through a metamorphosis, has to change. You know Bill Kristol says wait a second, the Tea Party's not so bad. Where do you stand?
HUCKABEE: I think Karl needs to go through a metamorphosis. You know this idea that somehow a handful of Republicans are going to attack Republicans that the handful doesn't like? I find that repulsive. I find it absolutely repulsive. This is not how you build a strong Republican Party, is by going after the people in your party who are different than you are. This is fratricide. And if the Republican Party wants to render itself utterly, utterly irrelevant, the best way to do it is to become several little parties within the party, which is apparently what some folks seem to think we ought to do. When you marginalize the Tea Party, marginalize the pro-life and pro-family part of the party, you lose every election coming up in the future. You lose every election. There may be a few local elections that you might win in some places outside the base of the party, but you're not going to win a national election again.
HUCKABEE: If you're going to spend millions of dollars, spend it to build up your Republican, the one you like, not millions to destroy a Republican that you don't think is up to your country club level. I find that just horrendous. [Cumulus Radio Networks, Geraldo, 2/8/13]
Huckabee joins numerous other conservative pundits, including Fox News contributors, who have criticized Rove's project for favoring the Republican establishment over conservative principles.
Geraldo Rivera asked Fox News colleague Karl Rove when he would "start vetting me" as a U.S. Senate candidate through Rove's recently formed political group during an interview on Rivera's radio program. Rove replied that he would when Rivera gets "serious about being a candidate" and that it's "not enough to just talk about it, you've got to file a committee and go raise money."
Both Rivera and Rove have been using their Fox News platforms to further their respective political interests. Rivera has said that he's seriously considering a run for the U.S. Senate from New Jersey and will continue to appear on Fox News to "hone a message" until "it's no longer legal" to do so (a move that has drawn criticism from media ethicists).
Rove, meanwhile, has used his Fox News platform to push the interests of his group American Crossroads, which recently launched the Conservative Victory Project. The New York Times reports that the group will work "to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts."
Rove's project has come under heavy fire from conservative pundits, including Fox News contributors, for favoring the Republican establishment over conservative principles. Rivera defended Rove, stating: "I agree with you that the Republican Party has to be a lot more open-minded and not nearly as rigidly ideological and has to stop killing themselves in the primaries." He later added that he hopes "the GOP heeds your advice, which is stellar as usual." Rivera recently wrote in a Fox News Latino column that he's a Republican but "voted for Obama/Biden" because of abortion, immigration reform, and marriage equality.
Before and after every major election, John Fund can be found on Fox News and elsewhere in the conservative media hyping allegations of voter fraud that he insists are tainting our democracy and require legislative remedy, usually in the form of strict voter ID laws. And, sure enough, he's taken to National Review Online to wave around a Hamilton County, Ohio, investigation into 19 cases of possible voter fraud in the 2012 election. Unfortunately for Fund, those 19 cases represent a minuscule percentage of the hundreds of thousands of votes cast, and just two of the cases involve voters casting more than one in-person ballot, a type of fraud that strict voter ID laws are supposed to prevent.
Critics of voter ID and other laws cracking down on voter fraud claim they're unnecessary because fraud is nonexistent. For instance, Brennan Center attorneys Michael Waldman and Justin Levitt claimed last year: "A person casting two votes risks jail time and a fine for minimal gain. Proven voter fraud, statistically, happens about as often as death by lightning strike."
Well, lightning is suddenly all over Cincinnati, Ohio. The Hamilton County Board of Elections is investigating 19 possible cases of alleged voter fraud that occurred when Ohio was a focal point of the 2012 presidential election. A total of 19 voters and nine witnesses are part of the probe.
Note that Fund's example of someone arguing that voter fraud is "nonexistent" is Waldman and Levitt arguing that it's exceedingly rare, which is obviously not the same as "nonexistent." So already he's refuting an argument no one is making.
But what about the Hamilton County investigation that has Fund so excited? A whole 19 cases of possible voter fraud! Fund doesn't bother to mention that there were 421,997 ballots cast in Hamilton County in 2012*. So even if every single one of those 19 cases involved the fraudulent casting of a ballot, they would represent just 0.0045 percent of the total. That's pretty rare -- which is exactly the point Waldman and Levitt made.
Rush Limbaugh promoted the accusation that Democrats were using The New York Times to pressure the Supreme Court into rejecting the current constitutional challenge to the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, which he claimed would fuel Democratic voter fraud. But Limbaugh ignored the fact that support for the Voting Rights Act has historically been, and currently is, bipartisan and the odds of in-person voter fraud are rarer than getting "struck by lightning."
During the February 5 edition of his show, Limbaugh aired a segment titled, "Democrats Move to Make Voter Fraud Easier," in which he declined to get into the "specifics" of the actual case, instead alleging a partisan conspiracy was underway to "facilitate Democrats winning elections" through "fraud." Among other inaccuracies, Limbaugh apparently was unaware of the accounts of voters unable to exercise the franchise, the eleven states that already permit election day voter registration, the "correlation-causation" fallacy of assuming greater turnout means voter suppression does not exist, and the fact that in-person voter fraud - the rationale behind requiring unnecessary and redundant photo ID - is a myth.
Instead, he attacked a New York Times article that reported a recent Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis of the 2012 election that concluded "blacks and Hispanics waited nearly twice as long in line to vote on average than whites":
RUSH: So what is this all about? Well, you have come to the right place. This article is motivated by three things. First, the Supreme Court is about to rule on the Voting Rights Act in a few weeks, so the New York Times is leaning on them. The New York Times knows that the justices of the Supreme Court value the opinion of reporters and editors at the New York Times. And so the Times is getting its marker down on what it wants the court to do in relationship to this Voting Rights Act case that's coming up. And without getting into specifics, what they want the justices to do is find it possible, make it possible for more Democrats to vote, make it easier for more Democrats to vote.
Notice there's nothing here about Republicans being in these long lines. The whole premise of the story, long lines equal long waits, equals people leaving the line and going home and not voting, which equals lost votes for the Democrats, which equals, "We can't have that." And so the Voting Rights Act case, without getting into specifics of it, the New York Times is putting down a marker for the justices so that they can keep in mind what's really important about the Voting Rights Act, and that is to do whatever is necessary in their ruling to make it possible for fraud to continue, to make it possible for registration and voting on the same day, same place, to take place, to happen, or whatever is necessary to facilitate Democrats winning elections.
The media should be aware of the Voting Rights Act's historic importance for all communities of color, particularly the "awakened" Latino vote, and not simply report that it is a black and white issue of importance only to African-Americans. While a significant number of amicus (friend of the court) briefs filed in Shelby County v. Holder - the Voting Rights Act challenge that the Supreme Court will hear February 27 - focus on the struggle for African-Americans' right to vote, a diverse range of civil rights advocates have joined the effort to uphold the law.
Hispanic civil rights advocates - in addition to advocates for Asian Americans and Indian Nations - are briefing the Supreme Court on the continued importance of the Voting Rights Act in the face of well-documented voter suppression against their communities. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination to "pre-clear" changes to their election practices with the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court. Led by a small Alabama county, Southern states are challenging Section 5's constitutionality - arguing, in part, that it unfairly singles them out and is outdated - despite their long history of voter suppression on the basis of race and national origin.
USA Today recently reported on the pushback against this ahistorical claim, noting that in response to Shelby County's attempt to strike down "the heart" of the Voting Rights Act, long-time African-American participants in the struggle for the right to vote in Alabama filed multiple amicus briefs in support of the law. USA Today did not, however, report the perspectives of other voters of color, despite the fact that the Southern and Southwestern Latino population has not only skyrocketed, but has also been the victim of extensive state-sponsored discrimination.
Karl Rove appeared on Fox News' Hannity to defend his new group, the Conservative Victory Project, against complaints from fellow conservatives that it would undermine the Tea Party movement. Rove, a Fox News contributor who regularly appears on the network advance his political agenda, insisted that the group is not an attempt to protect the GOP establishment over Tea Party candidates, but to promote "the most conservative candidate that can win."
The New York Times reported on February 2 that the Conservative Victory Project , which is backed by Rove and his allies who were also involved in his American Crossroads super PAC, is "the most robust attempt yet by Republicans to impose a new sense of discipline on the party."
During the February 5 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity noted that Rove's new effort has "drawn the ire of conservatives and the Tea Party," who are "accusing Karl Rove of putting the establishment ahead of conservative principles." Indeed, conservative media figures have been vocal about their opposition to Rove's new anti-Tea Party project.
Hannity expressed his own concern about the group, saying to Rove: "My fear is, is that if Karl Rove is fighting the Tea Party and conservatives are battling establishment candidates ... I am concerned that we're going to lose."
From the February 5 edition of MSNBC's The Last Word:
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From the February 5 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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From the February 5 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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