The Moral Bankruptcy of Talking Points Memo
Conn Carroll /
Responding to a suit by the Nevada State Education Association challenging at-large caucus locations set up by the Nevada State Democratic Party, Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall wrote:
If there’s one thing that’s core to the modern Democratic party is that voter suppression tactics are always wrong. Much of the US Attorney purge scandal was at root about Republican voter suppression tactics. I suspect this is doubly wrong — both in the sense that the suit is meritless on its face but certainly also in the sense that you don’t decide how easy to make it for people to vote depending on who you think they’re likely to vote for. … Please leave these shameful tactics to Republicans.
Indeed, TPM has been at the forefront of progressive efforts to convince the media that there is no such thing as voter fraud in this country and that any suggestions otherwise are just voter suppression efforts by mean nasty conservatives. In 2004, TPM devoted much of their election coverage to ‘voter suppression’ in Ohio and South Carolina.
Fast forward to press reports coming out of the 1/19 Nevada caucus:
- from Bill Clinton: “Today when my daughter and I were wandering through the hotel, and all these culinary workers were mobbing us telling us they didn’t care what the union told them to do, they were gonna caucus for Hillary. …There was a representative of the organization following along behind us going up to everybody who said that, saying ‘if you’re not gonna vote for our guy were gonna give you a schedule tomorrow so you can’t be there.’ So, is this the new politics? I haven’t seen anything like that in America in 35 years.”
- from Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe: “We currently have reports of over 200 separate incidents of trouble at caucus sites, including doors being closed up to thirty minutes early, registration forms running out so people were turned away, and ID being requested and checked in a non-uniform fashion. This is in addition to the Clinton campaign’s efforts to confuse voters and call into question the at-large caucus sites which clearly had an affect on turnout at these locations. These kinds of Clinton campaign tactics were part of an entire week’s worth of false, divisive, attacks designed to mislead caucus-goers and discredit the caucus itself.”
- from the Washington Post: “Aides for Sen. Barack Obama, who lost the first-in-the-West contest, announced they would ask the state Democratic Party to review reports that Clinton caucus organizers had sought to block entry to certain sites a half hour before the official deadline, as outlined in a Clinton campaign caucus manual. The Clinton campaign fired back that it was considering its own legal options in response to a barrage of voter intimidation complaints about Obama tactics. … Obama campaign lawyer Bob Bauer said the early closing times appeared to have had a “clear-cut disenfranchising effect.” Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said the Obama campaign was peddling “false claims” and was “grasping at straws” to explain its loss. Overall, the Obama campaign said it had fielded over 300 caucus-day complaints via a hotline set up for field staff. Wolfson said Clinton workers also logged hundreds of complaints.
So how did TPM cover these voter suppression charges in the most hotly contested Democratic nomination fight in a generation ? Nothing. Complete silence. The issue is so ‘core to the modern Democratic party’ that (at the time of this post) TPM had not posted about a single one of these charges.
They do have plenty of posts about the dispute over delegates and who ‘won’ the Nevada caucus … but nothing on voting irregularities. Either voter suppression is real, threatens democracy, and ought to be investigated at every turn, or it is just a made up issue that progressive whine about whenever it suits them politically. At least now we know what TPM really believes.