Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Why the Big Media Hesitates to Touch VoterGate

The New York Times, Washington Post and other RWCM outlets are misleading when they assert that "the blogs" have been flaming "conspiracy theories" about possible fraud in this election. In fact, and with minor exception, the top left-leaning blogs have all but avoided this issue like the plague.

While open discussion forums such as the Daily Kos diaries and the Democratic Underground forums have pursued this story relentlessly, the actual bloggers such as Kos, Atrios, Josh Marshall and Calpundit to name a few, have put this topic in a lockdown that CNN would admire.
Diaries :: TocqueDeville's diary ::

Why? One can only speculate. Perhaps they don't want to be branded "conspiracy theorist". Or perhaps they want to just move on and focus on the next election. Or, and I find this implausible, they really don't think it's possible that a group of Republicans would actually try to steal an election, much less pull it off. But after the proven malfeasance in 2000 [see THE GREAT FLORIDA EX-CON GAME ] and the clear indications that dirty tricks were at play in the run-up to this election,  you would think that any abnormality or suspicious elements in this election would have drawn a spotlight from the "leaders" of our internet community.

So let me address the three possible motives aforementioned for this veritable blackout: cowardice, disbelief, and apathy. [Note: I am not presuming that our bloggers are cowards or apathetic, just that these are possible explanations and therefore should be addressed.]

First, fear of labeling is not a valid reason for ignoring this story, nor is it an acceptable one.  TV personality Keith Olberman has demonstrated clearly that one can cover this issue and bring to light credible concerns while happily leaving the tinfoil hat at home. There is a difference between running around claiming proof of fraud when you have none and recognizing and reporting credible claims of irregularities.

Second, if you find it hard to believe the possibility that this election may have been rigged, then you are sadly uninformed. I won't even bother to cite the plethora of research and testimony from computer security experts as to the susceptibility of our voting and vote-counting technology. I can't believe that you could have missed it. Nor can I believe that you could have blogged this administration for the last few years and doubt that they are above such malfeasance. This is why I find this excuse implausible.

And last but not least, apathy. I'm probably most sympathetic with this excuse because it is an emotional response to a hard reality: that we will probably never prove fraud even if it occurred and even if we do, it probably won't change the outcome of the election. I also understand how exhausting it is to stay immersed in this story day after day and only find bits and pieces of the puzzle. But this is an excuse that we can accept the least.

Recently my wife had her purse stolen. This event began a process of bureaucratic entanglement that lasted over a month. First the police, then credit card companies and the justice system. It was an exhausting nightmare. But we had to go through it. Money was involved.

What if it was your money?

So let me ask you this. What if I told you that these central tabulating computers, the ones that are so concerning because they are connected by modem to thousands of other computers and accessed by thousands of people --election officials, Diebold personel, poll volunteers--, also housed your checking account? And anyone with access could add and delete money from your balance with a few mouse clicks? How would you feel about that?

And what if your balance continued to be off by about 5% and coincidentally, it was always off by a lesser amount than the balance shown by your records? Never more.

What would you do?

And how would you feel if your bank told you could no longer get a receipt on your deposits and regardless of your records, you need to simply trust the bank?

And how would you feel if, upon finding discrepancies between their records and your own, you were told to move on and live for another payday?

Now, does anyone believe that their vote is any less valuable than ALL  the money in their checking account? This is how important the integrity of this election is. And moving on and planning for 2006 or 2008 is utterly futile if all our opponents have to do is rig some machines every two years.  


Currently, there is a front-page story on the Daily Kos showing Bush and some woman almost kissing on the lips. Now, I have zero problem with posting amusing things. In fact I find humor essential to my well being. But juxtaposed to the glaring absence of any mention of still outstanding anomalies and the historical aberration in the exit-poll/vote tabulation discrepancies,  this appears to reflect a degree of out-of-touch-ness that parallels the French nobility immediately prior to the revolution.

We cannot let this slide. If fraud occurred we have to do everything in our power to uncover it. Only the fate of democracy is at stake. And I'll repeat, if all they have to do is rig an election every two years, all the Goerge Lakoffs in the world won't help us.

We need leadership

Let me be clear about what I do not expect. I don't expect the blogs to post every single story  that  bubbles to the surface of the forums. Nor do I expect Kos to feed a frenzy of speculation and false hopes. But I do expect leadership on this issue. And I expect support for all the folks who are vigorously pursuing all leads.

I believe this leadership and support should come in the form of using the bully-pulpit of the blog format to openly acknowledge this issue is critically important, that there are real causes for concern, and that there should be a full investigation into the anomalies and so-called glitches that have surfaced. All of which should be framed in the context of an absolute truth: that no election that is conducted by private corporations using closed, proprietary source code and tabulated in secrecy can ever be truly valid.

Release the exit-poll data

There should also be a loud, unified demand for release of the final Edison/Mitofsky  exit-polling data in the raw form before it was corrupted by an infusion of the tabulation returns. Regardless of what you think about Dick Morris, he knows elections. And he was absolutely right that exit-polls are "almost never wrong." He was the first MSM figure I know of to use the term fraud. Of course he suspects that the exit-polls were rigged (someone send him a gift certificate for Tin Foil Hats Are Us).

With a sampling that exceeded 13,000 voters, the margin of error was less than 1%. What happened?

And of course leadership also includes the reigning in of unsubstantiated allegations and premature conclusions. Now, one could argue that the diary/forum crowd is doing a pretty good job of policing themselves. Generally, I would agree. And no one expects Kos et al to go through and debunk every frivolous assertion. But the diaries are like the wild west of blogworld and we desperately need a high-profile (read: not the kosopedia) repository of information that has been credibly vetted and/or debunked.

In sum, I implore the leaders of the blog community to rejoin the blog community in calling for a close examination of this election in an objective, responsible manner that serves not the false hopes of  disheartened Democrats, but the confidence in the most important process in American democracy: the self-governance of our people through an honest vote.

--TocqueDeVille, Daily Kos, Nov 17


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