Our Horrible Media: Georgia edition

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on April 11, 2021

It's been a horrible few months for the American media, and there's no sign of it improving. I reviewed Tim Groseclose's essential tome, "Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind," shortly after it was released nearly 10 years ago, and the media's slanting of stories has only gotten worse. A quick scroll through Hoystory's archives will reveal case after case after case of the mainstream media behaving badly.

And those are all the outliers. Those are the especially bad hatchet jobs. Those are the intentionally slanted stories. It's hard not to read any "news" story nowadays and come away with the feeling that you may be being misled. News stories are no longer about giving the readers the facts; they're about furthering a narrative—a uniformly left-wing narrative.

Our horrible media on Georgia election reform

Late last month, the Georgia legislature passed and its governor signed a bill, S.B. 202, that makes a variety of changes to that state's election laws. President Joe Biden, who narrowly won the state in 2020, called the bill the "New Jim Crow" and our horrible media echoed those charges uncritically.

The New York Times, America's so-called "Paper of Record" and the publication that has the greatest influence on what appears on TV newscasts and smaller papers across the nation, headlined the story this way:

Horrible Media New York Times Edition

After the predictable editorializing in the opening paragraphs, we learn the following:

Though the law is less stringent than the initial iterations of the bill, it introduces a raft of new restrictions for voting and elections in the state, including limiting drop boxes, stripping the secretary of state of some of his authority, imposing new oversight of county election boards, restricting who can vote with provisional ballots, and making it a crime to offer food or water to voters waiting in lines. The law also requires runoff elections to be held four weeks after the original vote, instead of the current nine weeks.

So, the imposition of oversight of county election boards is part of a "raft of new restrictions?" That strikes me as a little odd, considering just a week later in an article by one of the same reporters praising Virginia for, among other things, doing away with voter ID requirements—something with overwhelming public support no matter what the political party—included this line:

The new law that was approved on Wednesday, called the Voting Rights Act of Virginia, requires all local elections administrators to receive public feedback or advance approval from the state’s attorney general for changes like moving voting precincts or elections registrars’ offices, and allows voters and the attorney general to sue over voter suppression. It expressly prohibits any racial discrimination or intimidation related to voting.

The exact same sort of state-level oversight of voting processes praised in Virginia is condemned in Georgia.

Then we're told that some "harsh" restrictions were contemplated, but not enacted.

The law does not include some of the harshest restrictions that had been proposed, like a ban on Sunday voting that was seen as an attempt to curtail the role of Black churches in driving turnout. And the legislation now, in fact, expands early voting options in some areas.

Wait. It expanded early voting?! How can this be if the it's all about making it harder to vote. How can this be "voter suppression" rules actually add more opportunities for voting than there were in pre-COVID elections?

No-excuse absentee voting, in which voters do not have to provide a rationale for casting a ballot by mail, also remains in place, though it will now entail new restrictions such as providing a state-issued identification card.

So, no-excuse absentee voting, but they must have ID. Again, only the extreme left is opposed to voter ID requirements.

The limiting of the number of drop boxes for completed ballots is another example of where the Times, and much of the mainstream media's other reporting is misleading. Prior to the 2020 election, drop boxes were illegal in the state of Georgia. That is, the number of drop box locations were zero.

As Dan McLaughlin over at National Review noted, the law actually does a lot to expand voting access.

In reality, S.B. 202 beefs up Georgia’s power to force localities (which control individual polling places) to add more precincts and more voting machines, addressing a specific, longstanding complaint by Democrats about the state’s current voting system. More broadly, while the bill modestly shores up election security and efficiency, it also expands weekend voting statewide, permanently authorizes ballot drop boxes, adds more state oversight of local officials, requires pre-canvassing of mail-in ballots to expedite vote counting on Election Night, expands eligibility to be a poll worker, lets illiterate people have others help fill out their absentee ballots, and requires jails to give access to eligible inmates to apply for absentee ballots. On the whole, it creates broader access to voting in Georgia than existed before 2020, and bars nobody from voting. [emphasis added]

The Times reporting is unfortunately what most of the media parrots. And even when other big media properties try to correct even the most harmless of the slanders against Georgia's voting law, it doesn't get much traction.

Georgia Public Broadcasting, no right-wing outlet, has an excellent explainer on what the law does and doesn't do, without any of the lies promulgated by the Times and its ilk. Even CBS News, weeks late and dollars short, points out that the new law is far from the new "Jim Crow," the president and much of the far left has decried it as.

Georgia Republican state Rep. Wes Cantrell is offering two new bills to replace the recently passed S.B. 202. The first aims to make Georgia's voting laws more like that in President Biden's home state of Delaware.

The bill will be called “The President Joe Biden Jim Crow on Steroids Voting Act.” Since President Biden seems to be very concerned about our laws here in Georgia, this bill will make Georgia’s voting laws identical to those of his home state of Delaware.
As a result, it will have 5 key features:
  1. 1. Instead of having up to 19 days of early voting in Georgia, we will have ZERO days of early voting JUST LIKE DELAWARE!
  2. Instead of having no excuse absentee voting in Georgia, you will have to have the excuse of being sick or disabled to vote absentee JUST LIKE DELAWARE!
  3. Instead of having plenty of secure drop boxes in Georgia, there will be no drop boxes JUST LIKE DELAWARE!
  4. Instead of being able to get drink/food from a non-poll worker outside of the 150 foot buffer & drink from a poll worker within the barrier in Georgia, it will be illegal to receive anything of value while standing in line to vote JUST LIKE DELAWARE!
  5. Instead of being able to vote in relative quiet in Georgia, your name will be announced outloud (and your party affiliation during a primary) so that your vote can be challenged by anyone in the precinct JUST LIKE DELAWARE!

Georgia election reform: Why now?

Democrats have been pushing the election changes in the wake of the 2020 election as prompted by racial animus and the fact that Biden won the state and it sent two Democrats to the Senate after narrow runoffs. This is all true, but it also misses a few things that is probably little more than bringing the GOP over to state Democrats' way of thinking.

First, while Georgia now looks like a purple state, it appears as though that is attributable largely to Donald Trump's presidency and personality. While Trump was narrowly losing the state, the elevation of Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to the Senate, were widely attributed to Trump's repeated efforts to call into question the security of the Georgia election suppressing the GOP vote.

While Georgia was shifting on the national level, Democrats managed to gain just one state Senate seat, and just three state House seats. Without Trump on the ballot, or flapping his gums, Georgia is likely still a red state.

Second, it was just three years ago, in 2018, when Democrats were complaining about Georgia's election system. Democrat Stacey Abrams has made a career out of repeatedly claiming that her race for Georgia governor was stolen from her—though the final margin was far larger than Biden's presidential margin. Among Abrams complaints was that she was running against Brian Kemp, then the Georgia Secretary of State. The Secretary of State's office is in charge of Georgia's elections, though it has no power over actual ballot counting, which is the province of the counties. Nonetheless, Abrams repeatedly claimed that Kemp's position as Secretary of State enabled him to somehow steal the election.

So, how did the legislature respond? It made it so the secretary of state is no longer the chair of the State Election Board, but is instead a non-voting, ex officio member. In short, it took away some of that office's powers to remove the appearance of impropriety that might attach in the very sort of situation that Abrams is been complaining about for two years.

That's not exactly something designed to reinstitute Jim Crow.

Another change includes setting up a system so that voters don't end up waiting more than two weeks, as they did in 2020, to find out who won. Delayed vote totals and "found" ballots don't inspire trust. As Georgia Public Broadcasting described it:

A change local officials embrace is a section that allows them to begin processing, but not tabulating, absentee ballots starting two weeks before the election. There's extra incentive to do so, by way of a new requirement that counties count all of the ballots nonstop as soon as polls close and finish by 5 p.m. the next day or potentially face investigation.

Plus, local officials are required to post and report the total number of ballots cast on election day, during early voting, via absentee voting and provisional ballots, all by 10:00 p.m. on election night, essentially providing the public with a denominator to understand the total possible votes out there as results trickle in.

Speaking of provisional ballots, out-of-precinct provisionals will not count anymore unless cast after 5 p.m. and a voter signs a statement saying they could not make it to their home precinct in time.

Now that counties must finish tabulating all the votes by 5 p.m. the day after the election, lawmakers moved up their election certification deadline to six days after polls close instead of 10.

Absentee ballots will be checked using the ID information voters write on the outside envelopes instead of their signatures, another departure from previous policy.

Finally, the legislation allows the state government to force changes on some localities that fail to provide sufficient voting locations and booths—a problem that has historically occurred in minority-majority precincts under Democratic control. Four-hour waits should become a thing of the past.

[For the record: I've lived and voted in two different states and four different counties. I have never had to wait longer than 10-15 minutes to vote. That it has been acceptable to some Georgia voters for decades to have to wait in hours-long lines to vote is outrageous.]

Our horrible media: The stories are slowly changing

As I noted above, two weeks after Biden declared Georgia the new Jim Crow, CBS News finally wrote an article that was more facts and less hysteria. NRO's Dan McLaughlin has published a helpful article showing how the goalposts are moving as more specifics of the law have been reluctantly reported.

Rich Lowry also pointed out that if reducing the number of early voting days is suppressing the vote, then Stacey Abrams is guilty of attempting it.

The truth is getting out, not because of the mainstream media, but despite them. Our media is horrible, and, sadly, it has little incentive to do better.


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April 2021



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