Tribune Media Services Columnist Continues Fight for his Country.
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2005, 2:50pm PT  

Robert Koehler of Tribune Media Services, one of just a handful of MSM'ers willing to continue the fight for democracy in America, gets it right all over again in tomorrow's column when he refers to November 2nd, as a "shiv to the gut of democracy."

Koehler had previously made quite a bit of noise with his now-classic initial column on the matter --- the first that we know of in the Mainstream Media, to charge that Election 2004 was "stolen" --- and his subsequent columns here, here and here. That last one was spiked by the higher ups at TMS, as we reported some weeks ago, and was never syndicated to TMS member newspapers. (Our radio interview with Koehler on The BRAD SHOW is archived as an MP3 here.)

In his latest column, Koehler recounts the story of a man from Franklin County, Ohio, who had voted at the same precint for 50 years, only to show up last November to find that he was no longer on the voter rolls. "I guess my vote don't matter anymore," he was quoted as saying at a hearing before the Franklin County Board of Elections.

Koehler also vows to continue his still-too-lonely fight to correct the greatest domestic threat to democracy this country has seen in...well, perhaps ever.

Here's an advance look at a couple of key grafs from tomorrow's piece, penned after returning from the recent Election Reform Conference in Cleveland, most of which will be picked up by very few newspapers most likely, as none of them contain the words "Michael Jackson":

I have pledged to stay on this story about the rot at the core of our democratic underpinnings until I'm confident that the next election will be secure. I know I won't feel this way until the alleged irregularities - the unconscionably long lines in Democratic precincts, the untold instances of vote flipping (press Kerry, Bush lights up), the undervotes, the bogus "code red" lockdown in Ohio's Warren County while the votes were counted in secret, the Ohio precinct where 638 ballots were cast but 4,258 votes were recorded for Bush (what investigative reporter Bob Fitrakis calls the miraculous "loaves and fishes" precinct), and so much more - are thoroughly investigated, and accountability and paper trails (better yet, paper ballots) are guaranteed by law in 50 states.

And this won't happen until the country's small-d democrats, who constitute, I am positive, a large if disorganized and overly trusting majority, demand it. Right now they're in a fog that's one part denial and 99 parts ignorance.

As Jonathon Alter posits in his must-read NEWSWEEK column this week (really, go read it!) about what would have happened had Watergate occured in today's Media/Political climate, the current strategy for the apologists on the Right --- and a very successful one so far, we might add --- is to make enough noise with unsupported claims that eventually "the American people figure both sides [are] just spinning, and a tie always goes to the incumbent."

If you have any doubt about that strategy, just ask yourself who eventually won the PR battle last year between Bush and Kerry concerning their respective military service during Vietnam.

Echoing that sentiment, Koehler recounts his personal investigation of one such attempt by an emailer from the Right to neutralize the issue of Election Fraud with bogus claims to a level playing field:

As a columnist who relishes e-mail interaction with my readers, I find myself taking up the cause one skeptic at a time. This is how I wound up investigating one correspondent's claim, via the Web links he sent me, that there was fraud on both sides, a sort of symmetry of corruption that evened out into a fair election.

This is a comforting stopgap assertion that may preserve complacency, but not only does it fall apart upon examination, it actually reveals what might be the underlying hysteria - Republican fear of riffraff, you might say - that made vote suppression not only widely tolerated but a participatory sport in 2004.

We'll leave the results of his investigation for him to tell when his column publishes shortly. The entire column will soon be available here.

Thanks for your continued work on behalf of this country, Bob. Glad to see that you've vowed to remain on the job! We'll be right there with you keeping up a fight that is more than worth continuing, no matter how many charlatans are on the beat trying cynically to suppress it.