Over a month after the 2018 midterm election, the North Carolina Board of Elections has still refused to certify Republican Mark Harris' initial apparent victory in the 9th Congressional District after questions were raised over alleged election fraud by members of his campaign. The allegations “suggest some kind of scheme” by “people supporting the GOP campaign” to influence the results of a close race. Sworn statements from voters in Bladen and Robeson counties “described people coming to their doors and urging them to hand over their absentee ballots, sometimes without filling them out.” Two women have come forward reporting that they were paid by Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr., a contractor who worked for Harris’ campaign specifically on absentee work, to collect ballots in their district. Both women claim that they didn’t know that what they were doing was illegal, but election law in North Carolina “allows only a family member or legal guardian to drop off absentee ballots for a voter.” Investigators are also looking into “unusually high numbers of absentee ballots cast in Bladen County” and other voters’ statements claim that they received absentee ballots without requesting them.
As these allegations surfaced, the election board announced that it will “hold a public evidentiary hearing into claims of irregularities and fraudulent activities” in the 9th Congressional District race. Media figures at Fox News, who have spent years fearmongering about the nonexistent threat of “voter fraud,” have largely remained silent or deflected when faced with these actual allegations of election fraud backed-up by substantial evidence. Here are three ways that Fox has chosen to cover election fraud in North Carolina:
Drawing false parallels
Fox News’ Shannon Bream covered the apparent plot to steal a North Carolina congressional seat by comparing it to legitimate collection of ballots in California elections. Bream claimed that the North Carolina news is “sparking questions about how Democrats swept areas like Orange County, CA,” even though California elections results have not been called into question by any credible source. (While it is legal for California voters who are unable to return their mail-in ballot to designate another person to deliver it for them, it is obviously illegal to collect and then fill out or destroy another person’s ballot.)
Ignoring that the alleged election fraud possibly benefited the Republican candidate
Fox has also failed to tell its viewers that the benefactor of the alleged election fraud is a Republican candidate, even though at least six sworn affidavits make clear that “the Republican nominee was the one who stood to gain from it.” Fox & Friends First reported on the story for less than 30 seconds, claiming that “ballots may have been illegally collected” without making it clear which party’s candidate is facing allegations. The hosts then pivoted to yet another story on incoming freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
In another late night segment lasting less than 30 seconds, Shannon Bream focused on the “Democratic candidate trailing in the race … withdrawing his concession,” before quickly moving on to a segment about scandals surrounding potential Democratic candidates for 2020 presidential election.
Dana Perino, host of The Daily Briefing, hosted a segment which explained the allegations, but again did not say which party likely benefited from the alleged election fraud. Additionally, the segment pointed out that Harris was still technically in the lead by 905 votes, but did not specifically mention that the alleged election fraud very well could have impacted this outcome.
Ignoring the story altogether
But for the most part, many shows on Fox News did not report on the story at all, which is unsurprising given the network’s close relationship with the GOP. None of Fox’s prime-time or morning shows this week covered the serious allegations, but they found time to cover stories that could hardly be called newsworthy. Any shows that did cover the story had segments that lasted around 30 seconds or less with little discussion or analysis. It appears Fox sees fraud as an issue only when there are made-up allegations of voter fraud against Democrats with no evidence to back them up.