ABC World News reported on ACORN but ignored voter suppression, including indictment of GOP official in NH case

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

On World News, Jake Tapper reported on "accusations of voter fraud" against ACORN workers, noting that "ACORN officials said the primary problem isn't a few phony names on voter registrations, but real voters being prevented from casting their ballots." But World News did not report on the indictment of former RNC official James Tobin and in the past two weeks has not aired any reports on the issue of voter suppression.

In an October 14 report on ABC's World News about "accusations of voter fraud" against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), ABC News senior political correspondent Jake Tapper noted that "ACORN officials said the primary problem isn't a few phony names on voter registrations, but real voters being prevented from casting their ballots." But while reporting on alleged instances of voter-registration fraud, World News did not report on the indictment -- reported earlier that day -- of former Republican National Committee official James Tobin, who allegedly lied to the FBI about his role in suppressing a get-out-the-vote campaign in New Hampshire in 2002. Nor has World News followed up* on a recent New York Times investigation finding that "[t]ens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law." More generally, in the past two weeks, World News has not aired any reports on allegations of voter suppression, despite Tapper's assertion in an October 10 Political Punch blog post titled "Voter Fraud, Voter Suppression" that "legitimate concerns" have arisen about "improper voter purges amounting to voter suppression."

He gave recent examples of voter suppression, including:

The U.S. Department of Justice, for instance, this week said that Georgia's actions to verify identity and citizenship appear to violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Brennan Center for Justice has issued a new report criticizing the way voter "purges" are conducted: "Officials strike voters from the rolls through a process that is shrouded in secrecy, prone to error, and vulnerable to manipulation."

The New York Times reviewed state records and Social Security records and concluded that "(t)ens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law" -- the six battleground states being Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada, and North Carolina.

Tapper also wrote, referring to voter-registration fraud and voter suppression: "There's a case to be made to voters that any news organization, candidate, or political party that acts as if one of these two issues is a problem, but ignores the other, is only concerned about their side winning, as opposed to caring about a clean and orderly and fair election."

In the past two weeks, World News has not reported on any of the voter-suppression stories Tapper highlighted.

According to an October 14 Associated Press article, Tobin was originally sentenced to 10 months in prison on "telephone harassment" charges in 2005 after being "accused of helping to arrange more than 800 hang-up calls that jammed get-out-the-vote phone lines set up by the New Hampshire Democratic Party and a local firefighters' union." Tobin's conviction was eventually overturned, but he was indicted October 9 "by a federal grand jury in Portland on two counts of making false statements about the incident to an FBI agent" about the phone-jamming plot.

The new indictment alleges that Tobin, in part, "knowingly and willfully made a false and fraudulent material statement, to wit, during an interview with a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tobin stated that it was [then-executive director of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee] Charles McGee's idea to contact [telephone service vendor] Allen Raymond to request his assistance in the phone jamming scheme, and that Tobin did not suggest that McGee call Raymond. In fact, as Tobin well knew, Tobin himself suggested to McGee that he call Allen Raymond, with whom McGee was not acquainted."

The AP further reported: "McGee and Raymond both pleaded guilty in the phone-jamming scheme and testified against Tobin. McGee served seven months in prison and Raymond served three months. The jamming also led to a lawsuit that was settled with Republicans paying the Democrats $135,000."

From the October 14 broadcast of ABC's World News with Charlie Gibson:

GIBSON: Election Day is three weeks from today, but there are already accusations of voter fraud. The charges, made by the McCain campaign, are directed at a group called ACORN. That's an association of community organizations, which has been filing registrations for new voters who may not be legitimate voters at all. So here's our senior political correspondent Jake Tapper.

[begin video clip]

TAPPER: In Nevada, election officials raided an ACORN office after finding fraudulent voter registration forms for members of the Dallas Cowboys' starting offense.

ROSS MILLER (Nevada secretary of State): What we can say with confidence is that Tony Romo is nowhere on our voter registration rolls.

TAPPER: There have been issues all over the country. An Ohio voter this week said he'd filled out 73 ACORN voter registrations in exchange for cigarettes and cash. Florida election officials rejected an ACORN application for Mickey Mouse. Today, John McCain attacked ACORN and tried to tie it to Barack Obama.

McCAIN: ACORN is tampering with America's most precious right. There has to be a full and complete investigation, but it has to be immediate. Senator Obama has had relations with ACORN in the past.

TAPPER: Obama acknowledged a relationship with ACORN, which advocates for low-income communities, but said it is not advising his campaign.

OBAMA: We've got the best voter registration and turnout and volunteer operation in politics right now, and we don't need ACORN's help.

TAPPER: Obama called McCain's attack a distraction from real issues.

OBAMA: This isn't a situation where there's actually people who are going to try to vote, because these are phony names.

TAPPER: ACORN officials today said they fired overzealous employees and worked with authorities to pinpoint the bad registrations, which they say are a small percentage of the 1.3 million new voters they've signed up.

KEVIN WHELAN (ACORN spokesperson): Elections officials need to verify each application. So if we think or suspect it's bad, we say that in the cover sheet we turn in.

McCAIN: Well, what makes America special is what's in this room tonight.

TAPPER: ACORN officials pointed out that in 2006, McCain was keynote speaker at a Miami rally they co-sponsored for immigration reform.

[end video clip]

TAPPER: ACORN officials said the primary problem isn't a few phony names on voter registrations, but real voters being prevented from casting their ballots.

Jake Tapper, ABC News, Oregon, Ohio.

*Media Matters for America searched the Nexis database for ABC News transcripts between October 1 and October 14, using the search terms:

World News AND vot!
World News AND rolls
World News AND register!
World News AND registr!
World News AND New York Times
World News AND Tobin
World News AND Brennan
World News AND suppres!
World News AND eligib!
World News AND elect!

Posted In
Elections, Voting Rights & Issues
Network/Outlet
ABC
Person
Jake Tapper
Show/Publication
ABC World News Tonight
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