State's Republican Governor Pawlenty Reverses Previous Claims, Admits 'No Actual Evidence of Wrongdoing or Fraud in the Process'...
By Brad Friedman on 11/17/2008, 1:31pm PT  

Of all the shameful behavior by the Republicans during this last election cycle, the National Republican Senatorial Conspiratorial Committee's continuing baseless charges that Al Franken and the Democrats are trying to "steal" the U.S. Senate election in Minnesota has to be near the top of a difficult list to top! If only because that rejected sort of politics continues despite the thorough spanking their party took in an election which would seem to have been a rejection of such tactics.

Even Minnesota's own governor, Tim Pawlenty, has now reversed his previous conspiratorial tone to declare on yesterday's Fox "News" Sunday that there is "no actual evidence of wrongdoing or fraud in the process." He was referring to the currently reported election results --- where Franken trails the incumbent Sen. Norm Colman by just over 200 voters --- and in the upcoming manual recount plans.

None of that has kept the RNSC from keeping up their shameful "Minnesota Recount" conspiracy theory website with postings that declare Franken "lost the election, so he is pulling an Al Gore, with his supporters manufacturing postelection votes by the hundreds" and shoveling, without correction, the now wholly debunked theory that "his supporters discover mislaid ballots in places like the trunks of their cars. By a mysterious coincidence, none of these includes votes for Franken’s rival Norm Coleman."

Though the last post on their conspiracy website was made on Friday --- so perhaps that signals they're getting the message --- all of it still remains there, as unretracted garbage, even after Pawlenty himself has now acknowledged it as such. But the RNSC isn't the only bad actor here. So are the networks, cable channels and even the New York Times...

RAW STORY's David Edwards notes Pawlenty's reversal from his previous stand on the phony "ballots in car" conspiracy of the GOP tinfoil-hatters. (See video at right, with the shameful Fred Barnes still echoing the already-discredited nonsense on Fox "News" over the weekend, along with Pawlenty's disavowal.)

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty told Fox’s Chris Wallace that there was no truth to the rumor that ballots were found in the trunk of an election officials car. The Minnesota Governor said that he knew of no suspicious activity in the tight race between Sen. Norm Coleman and Al Franken. “As of this moment we know of no actual evidence of wrongdoing or fraud in the process,” Said Pawlenty.

And Media Matters' Jamison Foster took the corporate media to task late last week for their irresponsible job in echoing the GOP whack-jobs and their evidence-free conspiracy theories, with little regard for the damage that such behavior does in baselessly undermining confidence in integral elements of our electoral system...

With only about 200 votes out of nearly 3 million cast separating Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman and his Democratic challenger, Al Franken, the race is headed to a recount.

Naturally, conservative radio hosts are working themselves into a lather, baselessly accusing Democrats of trying to "steal" the election. That shouldn't surprise anyone. But NBC and The New York Times have also pushed the dubious notion that the Minnesota recount has been plagued by chaos and impropriety.

Foster goes on to detail the outrageous (and lazy) way that NBC, the Times and others have been misreporting the story, before concluding:

The news media's tendency to compare any recount to the "butterfly ballots and hanging chads" made famous during Florida's 2000 recount, and to breathlessly report the merest rumor of impropriety, is not merely lazy and absurd and sensationalist. It is also dangerous. It causes people to be frightened and concerned about all recounts --- to be wary of the very concept of recounts.

But recounts needn't be like the "debacle" of 2000; in fact, they rarely are. They are far more frequently the best way to ensure that errors in counting do not result in the candidate who received fewer votes taking office. (Indeed, in 2004, a manual recount in the Washington governor's race reversed the results of the initial Election Day tabulations and machine recount.) Sensational and baseless reporting like that produced this week by NBC and The New York Times runs the risk of undermining public confidence in an essential part of the democratic process.

We concur. And we'll go even farther. Given that almost every state, including Minnesota, tabulates its ballots (fortunately, all paper in MN's case) on flawed, highly error-prone and easily manipulated electronic voting systems, these "recounts" aren't actually recounts. Rather, they are counts as they amount to the first time most of these ballots will ever be counted by any actual human beings. The U.S. needs far more manual counting, not less. The GOP's continuing efforts to discredit such processes do little more than discredit democracy and the GOP.

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