Admits MSM, Congress Inexcusably Clueless About 'Vote Caging', Draws Bead on White House, Gives Palast His Due
Says 'Last week was the first time most of us heard about vote caging. It shouldn't be the last.'
By Brad Friedman on 5/31/2007, 7:07pm PT  

UPDATE: Late breaking news on Griffin's resignation from a Palast interview with Conyers Thursday night, now posted here...

As Tim Griffin, the former Karl Rove aide and "interim"-installed Arkansas U.S. Attorney replacement for Bud Cummins became the latest Loyal Bushie to take an indignant fall in announcing his resignation yesterday, the mainstream media --- well, Slate anyway --- finally stopped to take at look at what all this "vote caging" stuff is all about. You know, the stuff that we've been running around with our hair on fire about at least since Monica Goodling dropped her bomb in last week's House Judiciary testimony.

Slate's Dahlia Lithwick asks this afternoon, "What the heck is vote caging, and why should we care?" Actually, though that's the story's headline, the title bar in our browser when viewing the article indicates the original headline was likely the more apropos, "What the heck is vote caging, and why does nobody care?"

Following up on Greg Palast's Exclusive at BRAD BLOG, on the heels of Monica's otherwise-unreported bombshell, and the noise that Palast has otherwise been trying to make about Griffin's vote caging emails for at least three years, Lithwick's candid self and media appraisal is refreshing and appreciated.

Goodling was questioned about this almost not at all, nor did the media do much more than report the words of the former liaison between the White House and Alberto Gonzales...Meanwhile, liberal talk radio, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and the blogosphere went nuts. So, which is it: Is vote caging the most underreported part of this U.S. attorneys scandal or the most over-hyped?

One of the reasons the mainstream news reports (including mine) barely touched the vote-caging story was that nobody had any idea what Goodling was talking about. "Vote caging, what's that?" we e-mailed each other at Slate.

Sigh..."Nobody" may be an overstatement, as The BRAD BLOG scrambled to report the stunning revelation moments after Goodling's utterance. But perhaps we're still a "nobody" to Slate, even if we've been mentioned by name of late on their pages. And credit where it's due, that report was the first by an MSM-ish outlet to give the GOP's snake-oil front-group, the American Center for Voting Rights, its two-a-half-years-overdue due.

Still, given the rest of Lithwick's coverage today, we're happy to let bygones be bygones as slowly, but surely, the media begins to understand the import of so much that we've been reporting here --- with as much siren-worthy urgency as we could muster --- over these past many years...

Go read her article, and leave a thanks in comments for the coverage. Especially as she gets a number of points precisely right in drawing a bead on the White House and their reasons for not wanting Griffin to face questions during a confirmation hearing in the Senate.

"From the point of view of the ongoing DoJ scandal," Lithwick writes, "perhaps what's most urgent about the vote-caging claims is that they go a long, long way toward explaining why Karl Rove and Harriet Miers were so determined to get Griffin seated in the Arkansas U.S. Attorney's office, and to do so without a confirmation hearing."

Uh, yup.

Griffin "sure looks like a guy hiding something, and if vote caging is that something, it becomes even more interesting that the White House was pushing him forward," she asserts, before quoting Loyala election law professor, ElectionLawBlog's Rick Hasen's response to her question about whether the MSM is "making a mistake in blowing off the vote-caging story."

Hasen tells her that "Goodling's mention of it 'makes me suspect that there's something there worth investigating by the MSM, even if you don't buy into the grand conspiracy theories.'" Okay, fair enough. And thank you, Rick.

Lithwick similarly holds both Griffin's and Congress's well-warmed feet to the fire:

If the media have fallen down on this story, how much more so has Congress? Nobody tried to press Goodling about what McNulty allegedly knew and withheld from Congress in regard to Griffin's alleged vote-caging schemes. I'd be interested in the answer. I'd also like to hear what Griffin himself has to say about those lists the BBC has. If the RNC was paying good money to send registered mail to homeless black men in Florida, there must have been a reason for it...I bet he'd like nothing better than to clear his name and remove the taint of voter suppression from his résumé.

Sure he would. So no doubt he'll be volunteering to give testimony under oath before Congress at any moment, right? Don't count on it. This is felony stuff we're talking about. And his lack of volunteered comment on emails, as reported by Palast at BBC long ago in 2004 (and ignored ever since by the American MSM) should speak volumes.

Lithwick then comes to the crux of the matter, which goes beyond the persecutor prosecutor, Griffin...

If Palast is right, Griffin and vote caging open the door to explaining the White House involvement in the U.S. attorneys purge. And the White House—not the Justice Department—has always been the least-understood part of this story. So, let's bake up some of those warm, crusty subpoenas.

Indeed, even if it's not the only BRAD BLOG assisted open door that helps explains WH involvement in AttorneyGate. For more on that, see Murray Waas' exposé today on our friend Thor Hearne of the ACVR in today's National Journal. We'll have more on his story, and related others, tomorrow.

Lithwick's last line then is finally sigh-worthy again, but we'll let it slide without comment this time around, in hopes that others out there, in Congress, in the MSM, heed her cry...

"Last week was the first time most of us heard about vote caging. It shouldn't be the last."

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