No, 44 States Didn’t Reject Trump’s Election Integrity Commission: Anatomy of a CNN #FakeNews Narrative
“Never let a crisis go to waste,” Rahm Emanuel’s call to exploit the fog of disaster for political gain, is apparently too passive or moral of a strategy for the #Resistance.
Now, the approach is to “always play the virtuous victim.”
Even less ethical, even more shameless. Yet luckily for the American citizen, the swamp still operates under the old assumption that a political lie can make it halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes tied. No longer is that so -- with the media/cultural filter exposed as obsolete, the lie is an immediate liability. Often, the lie becomes the more interesting story, and in this case, it became the more necessary one to learn of for those intending to remain informed citizens.
On July 5, CNN published an article titled:
Sounds like a nationwide stand of virtuous victims: what could possibly appear more empowering to the #Resistance’s swarm of Facebook activists? Indeed, thousands shared the piece based solely on the headline; they didn’t bother clicking.
But those who did, and who additionally read the article with the learned approach of objective analysis, subsequently found that the article immediately negated both its headline and much of its following content. Those readers also found that the article uncritically printed the grandstanding, hypocritical responses from many of the 50 states CNN contacted about the voter commission, knowing the article itself disproved many of their responses.
That willingness to stuff matter and antimatter into the same piece is the incredible part: the authors reveal they are aware their own story is incorrect as they construct it. No later corrections required! As long as that headline reaches the public. Outlets such as CNN are willingly allowing themselves to be exploited by the D.C. swamp when interests align. It’s a masterfully representative example of fake news; a self-contradicting toilet-flush swirly of bias-fueled incompetence.
Here’s the real news, below: You’ll see how it makes the CNN fakery and the hypocritical grandstanding by several states the only newsworthy elements of this whole episode.
Donald Trump has created the Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity.
The goal of the committee is to affirm that the bedrock of our republic, that we are led by “the consent of the governed,” is secured. Eligible registered voters must be allowed to vote. Anyone else must be forbidden from voting. The registration process must be secure and assiduously maintained.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has been selected as vice chairman of the committee. At the end of June, Kobach sent the same letter to all fifty states.
The letter included this request:
[I]n order for the Commission to fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting, I am requesting that you provide to the Commission the publicly available voter roll data for [your respective State], including, if publicly available under the laws of your state, the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information. (Emphasis added)
Do note that Kobach included the pivotal words “publicly available,” and that he redundantly included the pivotal words “publicly available” twice, as I just did redundantly, because Kobach was probably of the mind that the swamp creatures were going to dishonestly grandstand about the contents of his letter.
Indeed, CNN did notice that Kobach had twice included those pivotal words, and CNN recognized that they were, indeed, pivotal. Wrote CNN:
The vice chairman's letter twice requests only "public" voter information.
Further, CNN noted that Kobach had thricely clarified himself in an interview with another outlet:
Kobach clarified the specifics of his request Friday: "Every state receives the same letter, but we're not asking for it if it's not publicly available," he told The Kansas City Star.
Just in case anything sentient still wasn’t clear on the core concept, CNN invited Kobach to appear on Anderson Cooper’s show. And lo, Kobach declared:
Whatever a person on the street can walk in and get, that's what we would like.
So, apparently Kobach has limited his request to publicly motherf****** available information.
How public? Well, state law often requires that this information be released to the public if requested by an American citizen. Each state does have a roadblock of an administrative fee, which varies greatly from state to state.
Although most of the data included in statewide voter registration lists is considered public information, laws determining who can acquire the lists and the costs to obtain them vary by state. The United States Elections Project recently conducted an analysis of the availability, data included, layout, price, and ordering information for voter lists from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and developed an online resource detailing each state’s approach to sharing these lists.
People access state voter rolls for a variety of reasons, including research. Most commonly, however, political campaigns and parties use them to reach out to voters. In some states, only candidates and campaigns may access voter lists. In others, lists may be broadly available -- but only for political or electoral purposes. All states prohibit the use of voter list data for commercial purposes. Further, although all states provide voters’ names and addresses, they vary on whether phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, voting histories, or absentee data are included.
Some states charge interested parties a fee to cover costs associated with the production and formatting of lists. In states that charge a fee, the cost of voter lists ranges from $2 in the District of Columbia to $32,500 in Arizona. The report estimates that it would cost a U.S. citizen $126,482 and a campaign $136,671 to purchase all the voter lists available to them nationwide.
That is, indeed, a chunk of money.
Anyway, Kobach has established that the committee is only after a certain type of information previously defined, and CNN, in its article, reports on the actual contents of Kobach’s letter, and on his two public comments, one of which was given to CNN itself.
But they then slapped the headline “Forty-Four States and DC Have Refused To Give Certain Voter Information to Trump Commission” on that article, along with a few sentences of narrative -- false narrative -- that backed the headline.
Why was that narrative false?
Well, because, as CNN reported just a couple column inches away, Kris Kobach had already beaten several horses to death. Forty-four states did not refuse to turn over “certain information” to Kobach BECAUSE KOBACH HAD NOT REQUESTED THAT “CERTAIN INFORMATION.”
Only FOURTEEN STATES and D.C. refused to turn over the PUBLICLY AVAILABLE information, according to the laws of those respective states, that Kobach had requested.
The other thirty states? Most of them were simply clarifying state law for their citizens; that they would release only that respective state's publicly available information, just as Kobach had requested. But many of them grandstanded, declaring that they would not turn over PRIVATE information, which … wait for it … Kobach had NOT requested.
How do we know CNN knew their headline was bunk?
Well, for starters, they had already reported … ah, just scroll up a little. But also, CNN then printed, at the bottom of its article, the actual written responses from every single state that answered CNN’s question regarding whether or not each state would comply with Kobach’s request.
Did CNN question ANY of those grandstanding states that irrationally responded by saying they would never give Kobach PRIVATE information? Nope. CNN just uncritically tacked them onto the total, producing a headline that would find itself devoured by its own article body. Narrative achieved!
CNN Facebook shares? Climbing.
Of course, this story gets worse.
Why did Kobach request the voter information from all 50 states and D.C. in this manner, rather than undergoing each states’ process, as described in the Pew Charitable Trusts chart?
The only rational motivation, of course, was to save taxpayer money. The committee would be spending approximately $130,000 to gather the publicly available information otherwise; he instead requested that states assist the committee without the unnecessary taxpayer burden.
Meanwhile, as some states require the release of voter information that is properly requested and purchased, some of those secretaries of state grandstanding in the CNN article must simply comply once the Fed's check clears -- thus screwing over their own citizens who paid for it with their federal tax bill.
That’s some price to pay just for the #Resistance to read an “empowering” quote on Facebook.
Of course, this being the swamp, the hypocrisy gets significantly more expensive and two-faced.
Let’s take the states of Delaware, Virginia, Louisiana, and Maryland, plus Washington, D.C.: All are refusing to comply with Kobach’s request; all are grandstanding about the nefarious Trump administration and their supposed “virtuous victim” protection of their citizens' information.
However, all of them have paid dues of at least $25,000 to become member-states of a non-profit organization called ERIC, created during the Obama administration.
ERIC is by no means an objectionable organization; it is indeed a laudable one. In fact, ERIC exists for precisely the same reason that the Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity now exists: helping states to maintain pristine voter rolls.
From ERIC’s website:
Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC)
The Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) is a non-profit organization with the sole mission of assisting states to improve the accuracy of America’s voter rolls and increase access to voter registration for all eligible citizens. ERIC is governed and managed by states who choose to join, and was formed in 2012 with assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts.
(View the ERIC Bylaws and Membership Agreement [mentions $25,000 dues])
The seven states that pioneered the formation of ERIC in 2012 are: Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. Washington D.C., Oregon, Connecticut, Louisiana, and Minnesota joined in 2014, Alabama, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island in 2015, and Alaska, Ohio, New Mexico, West Virginia and Wisconsin in 2016.
The states were inspired to create ERIC due to the challenges in maintaining the accuracy of voter registration records. While most private industry, and many government agencies, have updated their systems to take advantage of modern technology, voter registration systems remain largely based on 19th century tools, such as handwriting on paper forms and postal mail. The inherent inefficiencies in the system result in unnecessarily high costs, and make it difficult to keep voter rolls clean throughout the country. For example, 1 in 8 voter registration records in America contain a serious error. In addition, more than 51 million citizens, or 25 percent, remain unregistered to vote. (Emphasis added)
So, here’s your swamp creatures: The four states plus Washington, D.C. that are bolded above read ERIC’s mission statement, and found out that, golly, “1 in 8 voter registration records in America contain a serious error.” That sure sounds like a real crisis, not a Rahm Emanuel-style one. Those four states and Washington, D.C. agreed.
So they chose to not only share their PUBLICLY AVAILABLE voter information with ERIC and any other states that signed on with ERIC, but they also each paid ERIC $25,000 in dues for the ability to do so.
Now, Kris Kobach comes asking for that same data -- but this time those four states plus Washington, D.C. hypocritically choose to grandstand about their citizens' “privacy.” Worse, they attack Trump for cooking up some conspiracy theory about voter fraud and widespread problematic voter rolls -- WHICH THESE SWAMP CREATURES HAD AGREED WAS A SERIOUS PROBLEM WHEN THEY PAID TO JOIN ERIC.
Here’s Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, from an ERIC state, quoted in -- of course -- that CNN article:
"I have no intention of honoring this request," Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement Thursday. "Virginia conducts fair, honest, and democratic elections, and there is no evidence of significant voter fraud in Virginia. This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November. At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump's alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression."
If that’s what Terry really thinks, why hasn’t he withdrawn his state from ERIC?
Because that’s probably not what Terry really thinks.
Here’s D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, another hypocritical member of ERIC:
"The best thing I can do to instill confidence among DC residents in our elections is to protect their personal identifiable information from the Commission on Election Integrity. Its request for voter information, such as social security numbers, serves no legitimate purpose and only raises questions on its intent. I will join leaders of states around the country and work with our partners on the Council to protect our residents from this intrusion," DC mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement.
And ERIC member-state Delaware:
"Releasing this information to the White House would not serve the mission of safeguarding the fairness and integrity of elections in Delaware and would not be in the best interests of Delaware voters," said State Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove said in a statement Monday. Sec. of State Jeffrey Bullock echoed the sentiment in the same statement: "Delaware will not be a party to this disingenuous and inappropriate campaign against one of the nation's foundational institutions."
And ERIC member-state Louisiana:
"The President's Commission has quickly politicized its work by asking states for an incredible amount of voter data that I have, time and time again, refused to release," Secretary of State Tom Schedler said in a statement Monday. "My response to the Commission is, you're not going to play politics with Louisiana's voter data, and if you are, then you can purchase the limited public information available by law, to any candidate running for office. That's it."
And ERIC member-state Maryland:
"The assistant attorneys general representing SBE have considered the request and have determined the disclosure is prohibited by law," Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a tweet Monday, adding in a second tweet, "I find this request repugnant; appears designed only 2 intimidate voters and 2 indulge the President's fantasy that he won the popular vote."
Hypocrisy, grandstanding, fake news, and CNN: welcome to The Swamp, circa 2017.
Ask most Americans if ineligible or fraudulent registrations should be removed from the voter rolls, and they will answer “yes,” and it doesn’t matter if they say “no,” because of course ineligible or fraudulent registrations should be removed from the voting rolls.
With Trump’s increasingly successful presidency on the issues he was elected on -- excellent economic and job growth, border crossings down 75%, the gradual restoration of the Rule of Law -- there simply is no time for the #Resistance to waste waiting for an actual, or even a perceived, crisis. They simply play the "virtuous victim" no matter the situation.
And all of the players that contributed to the rise of Donald Trump -- particularly a pridefully incompetent and inaccurate media working in tandem with a hypocritical crew of career elitist politicians, all practicing Hillary Clinton’s “public stance/private stance” strategy -- have proven incapable of learning a damned thing and changing.