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  • Three ways Fox News reacted -- or didn’t -- to news of election fraud in North Carolina

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    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.

  • Fox & Friends hosts former Ohio secretary of state with own track record of voter suppression to complain about Florida recounts

    Ken Blackwell, who once rejected voter registration forms because he said the paper was too thin, suggested Florida “clean up” its voter rolls

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Continuing their effort to cast doubt on the ongoing vote recounts in the Florida Senate and gubernatorial elections, Fox & Friends hosted Ken Blackwell, a member of President Donald Trump’s now-defunct Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, to complain about the recount process. But Blackwell himself regularly sought to curtail access to the voting booth in his former capacity as Ohio secretary of state.

    Since the November 6 elections, Fox News has attempted to dispute the legally mandated recount in two statewide Florida elections with baseless claims of voter fraud. Furthering that theme, Fox & Friends brought on Blackwell to spew nonsense about the vote in Florida being “corrupted” by the recount process. He claimed that “Florida has to clean up … their voter rolls” to “make sure that folks who are deceased are taken off the rolls,” echoing a tiresome and groundless right-wing myth that widespread voter fraud is caused by “dead people voting.”

    Blackwell told Fox & Friends that election officials need “transparency” and “penalties” to restore confidence in Florida’s recount process “and get rid of folks who violate the standards. Three strikes and you're out.” But in his former role as Ohio secretary of state, Blackwell was accused of multiple attempts to suppress the vote, such as allegedly “failing to provide voter registration opportunities in public assistance offices as required by the National Voter Registration Act,” and even rejecting “1000s of voter registration applications due to paper weight.” His office also repeatedly leaked voters’ Social Security numbers when he was running for governor in 2006 -- all before he was named to Trump’s election fraud commission.

    From the November 13 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    KEN BLACKWELL (FORMER OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE): I think they’re going to look to the secretary of state to be in the lead, but the attorney general of Florida has a role, as does the governor. Look, the bottom line is that we cannot allow an election to be corrupted behind -- by hiding behind the veil of gross incompetence. And so that means that there are some steps that we have to take: One, we have to clean up -- Florida has to clean up, as are other states are doing, their voter rolls. We have to make sure that folks who are deceased are taken off the rolls -- folks who have moved from the state are taken off the rolls in the state that they have left. We, in fact, have to make sure that there are standards of transparency, and they must be enforced.

    And thirdly: It is very important that there are penalties to folks and personnel that violate these rules. Because, you know, my dad used to always say, “If you reward bad behavior, all you're going to get is more bad behavior.”

    BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): But, Ken, you know about Broward County. You sued them, right? Your organization sued them. You could have called this ahead of time.

    BLACKWELL: Well, look, but that -- that's the point. You have to have eyes on the process. Transparency, and as I’ve told many people, you, Brian, the other week, you know, “Those who want to do evil love the darkness.” We have a responsibility to make sure that our system, in a bipartisan way, has eyeballs on all of the process, at every step of the process. That is so, so important. And this, this -- this notion, that you can have chronic, massive incompetence that is excused -- that corrupts a process. That lowers confidence in the results, and it breeds distrust.

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Ken, real quickly, give us one thing Florida -- in particular, Broward County, perhaps -- should do to fix it?

    BLACKWELL: Transparency. Transparency, transparency, and get rid of folks who violate the standards. Three strikes and you're out. That’s baseball, and that's criminal justice system. Three strikes and you're out. Broward County, this person has had many strikes.

  • Fox & Friends contradicts itself on Florida vote count

    Guest co-host Katie Pavlich falsely states vote count deadline has passed minutes after reporter correctly says Florida law allows four days after election for vote tallies

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox & Friends contradicted itself within five minutes in a report on the ongoing process of tallying the votes from the 2018 Florida Senate race between incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott. Guest co-host Katie Pavlich parroted Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) debunked smear that “the early voting numbers that were in on Sunday were -- they’re all supposed to be … counted on Tuesday by Florida law standards,” suggesting election officials were circumventing the law in an attempt to change the results of the election. But, literally minutes prior to Pavlich’s spurious claim, Fox News correspondent Griff Jenkins correctly noted that Florida officials “have until noon” on Saturday, November 10, “to submit their unofficial vote totals.”

    From the November 9 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

    GRIFF JENKINS (FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT): Now, under Florida law, any race with a margin of half a percent or less automatically goes to a recount. Attorney Mark Elias, now representing [Sen. Bill] Nelson, said this, he says, “We’re doing this not just because it's automatic, but we are doing it to win.”

    And in the race for governor there, also in the razor-thin majority -- recount territory, rather, Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis leads Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by more than 36,000 votes, or .4 percent -- .44 percent. Gillum, who conceded the race to DeSantis on Tuesday night, indicated through his lawyers that they're also gearing up for a fight.

    Now, Florida has 67 counties, they all have until noon tomorrow to submit their unofficial vote totals. One thing is for sure, It's good to be an attorney for election law in Florida in November.

    ...

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): Here’s the thing, and this is the reason that Rick Scott has sued Palm Beach and Broward County. Suddenly, mysteriously, apparently Broward County is finding more ballots. Now, how is that?

    KATIE PAVLICH (GUEST CO-HOST): All of a sudden.

    PAVLICH: The other issue here, in terms of legal problem, is the early voting numbers that were in on Sunday were -- they’re all supposed to be voted by Tuesday -- or counted on Tuesday by Florida law standards, and yet, here we are getting to the weekend, and those early totals are still being counted in Broward County.

    STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): They were busy.

    PAVLICH: Very busy.