On today's BradCast: Did the gutting of the Voting Rights Act and new restrictions on voting in more than a dozen GOP-controlled states give the election to Donald Trump --- who is now staffing up his new administration with a swamp full of corporate lobbyists? [Audio link to show posted below.]
"Drain the swamp" of lobbyists and insiders in Washington D.C.? Who did Trump think he was kidding with that oft-repeated line during his campaign? Apparently, he was kidding a lot of folks, including both his supporters who fell for it and the corporate mainstream media which helped facilitate it. With the transition now underway, it is being led by dozens (hundreds?) of corporate lobbyists and former politicians, all staffing up federal agencies that will pretend to oversee their clients from the very same industries --- banking, communications, the environment, defense --- that they are supposed to be regulating. Sadly, many in the corporate media, like the New York Times' Richard Fausset, continue to fail in educating the electorate about Trump's big con. It's gonna be a rough bunch of years.
In the meantime, are the reported election results trustworthy? A few words on whether we can (or should) "trust" the results as reported by electronic voting tabulation systems (which, once again, fail to match reported pre-election or Exit Polling results), before a look at whether new restrictions on voting in more than a dozen GOP-controlled states after SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights Act, may have affected the results.
Journalist Ari Berman of The Nation, author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, has been relentlessly and heroically covering this beat for years now, while most of the corporate media have regarded voting rights as a fringe issue. He joins me today to discuss what we know so far --- and what we don't --- about why the turnout was reportedly the lowest since the 2000 election, and if suppression may have flipped any states from Hillary Clinton to Trump.
For example, as Berman reported this week: "27,000 votes currently separate Trump and Clinton in Wisconsin, where 300,000 registered voters, according to a federal court, lacked strict forms of voter ID" as now required by state Republicans to vote there at all. "Voter turnout in Wisconsin was at its lowest levels in 20 years and decreased 13 percent in Milwaukee, where 70 percent of the state’s African-American population lives."
"I talked to a lot of voters who jumped through lots of different hoops to be able to vote, or didn't vote at all because they didn't have the right documentation or they couldn't get the right documentation, or they got so frustrated with the entire process," he tells me. "How many people didn't show up because they didn't want to deal with it? How many people thought they wouldn't be able to vote?"
"The head of elections in Milwaukee said he believed voter ID had an impact, that the parts of the city where voter ID was going to have the biggest impact, that turnout there declined there the most," he says. "The fact that we made it harder for people to vote, for no good reason, to me, is a scandal." And all of that is before we even get to states like Florida in our discussion, where, Berman reminds us, the state recently "blocked 1 in 5 African-Americans from voting by taking away the right to vote for ex-offenders."
"Isn't the right to vote the most fundamental aspect of a democracy? And if you're not disturbed by people being turned away from the polls, there's something wrong with how you're approaching this," he says, before we turn to the media's role in ignoring this issue, which he describes as "an unbelievably huge failing, particularly by cable and broadcast news."
There is much more in today's conversation with Ari than I can adequately summarize here, so please give today's show a listen.
Finally, a few closing thoughts, for now --- from The Daily Show, from Stephen Colbert, and finally from me --- on what the horrific and painful news of this week means to the nation and the world and how we will need to survive (and resist) together...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)