April 13, 2021

REALCLEARINVESTIGATIONS: The Absentee Vote Logic of the New York Times.

To pass a law limiting the use of absentee ballots, as Georgia recently did, is no longer to choose a side in a legitimate debate over how to balance ballot integrity and ease of voting. Instead, to express concern about the risk of election fraud is seen as being engaged in a different sort of fraud — an illegitimate effort to disenfranchise the poor and minorities. The New York Times has aggressively insisted the last several months that worries over absentee and mail-in ballots, in particular, are dishonest violations of voting rights. Times staff opinion editor Spencer Bokat-Lindell wrote late in October that “[t]he effort to discredit and discourage mail-in voting” was the “culmination of a decades-long disinformation campaign by the Republican Party and others to suppress votes, especially those cast by Black and Latino Americans.”

But what of the Times itself, which for over two decades has warned readers that the most common sort of election fraud involves absentee voting? As recently as September, Times reporters Stephanie Saul and Reid Epstein quoted Richard Hasen, who teaches election law at the University of California, Irvine, saying that “[e]lection fraud in the United States is very rare, but the most common type of such fraud in the United States involves absentee ballots.”

In 2018 operatives working for the Republican candidate for North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District seat, falsified absentee ballots. Times reporters Alan Blinder and Michael Wines told readers that the state’s long history of election fraud was “under a spotlight.” They quoted lawyer Bill Gilkeson saying that “absentee ballots” were “where the fraud really happens.” In 2019 Blinder wrote, “The Ninth District controversy ranks among the highest-profile examples of modern election fraud,” one that “underscores how absentee ballots remain susceptible to abuse.”

What accounts for the change from a dark presentation of the issue to a decidedly rosy one? RealClearInvestigations asked a spokesperson for the New York Times whether the paper’s current enthusiasm for absentee voting meant its staff’s previous criticism and reporting were wrong or misleading. RCI also asked whether the articles had been, even just unintentionally, part of what Times staff editor Bokat-Lindell called “a decades-long disinformation campaign by the Republican Party and others to suppress votes”? She did not respond to those two questions.

When the Party Line changes, the New York Times line changes, because they’re one and the same.

And as late as the day before the election it was still permitted to publish articles like this: Will your ballot be safe? Computer experts sound warnings on America’s voting machines. Now even suggesting such things makes you a conspiracy theorist and probably a racist too, because reasons.

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