CNN Hypes Film Charging 'Voter Suppression' by Republicans

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On New Day Saturday, for the second time in the past two years, the weekend edition of the CNN show plugged the film, Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook, which promotes liberal opposition to laws against voter fraud. Even though efforts to combat voter fraud go all the way back several years before Barack Obama was elected President, the show again pushed the view that his election was the driving force behind such measures.

After fill-in co-host Boris Sanchez informed viewers that Republicans had recently lost suits in Pennsylvania and Texas over the handling of mail-in ballots, co-host Christi Paul set up the segment: "The film makers behind Rigged: The Voter Suppression Handbook [sic], as it's called, say there's a well-organized effort to block certain groups from the ballot box."

Then came a clip of Republican consultant Chris Jankowski appearing in the film:

'08 was the beginning of the whole demographic tide -- the first election where we could see the demographics impacting. And if we continue to underperform in this multi-racial world that is going to be America, the white voters are going to be a clear minority, the Republican party will cease to exist.

Paul brought aboard her guest, Tim Smith, who is executive producer of Rigged, and, cuing him up to accuse Republicans of "voter suppression," she began by posing:

So we have record numbers of people voting by mail already, and that is because, in large part, of this pandemic, people are afraid to go to the polls. I know that you say that some of the additional security measures are a form of voter suppression. What evidence do you have of that?

After noting recent voting rules for dealing with mail-in ballots supported by Republicans, Smith linked such regulations to race:

So they really are looking for ways to sort of, you know, impact the growing demographic tide of black and brown voters, you know, which has really sort of started as we made clear in our film in 2008 when Obama won, and the Republicans had to sort of, you know, had one of two choices. Either they could suppress these new voters or they could kind of appeal to them in terms of policies. They, you know, chose the former route, and they've been doing it ever since. It's sort of spread across not only the legislatures with, you know, restrictive voting laws but also increasingly in the courts where, you know, the Republican Senate and Trump have appointed a number of Republican -- or not Republican but judges -- and 25 percent of the new federal judges are, you know, Trump appointees.

The weekend edition of New Day previously promoted this film back in April 2019, and, as NewsBusters pointed out at the time, the liberal claims that laws against voter fraud were a reaction to the election of President Obama fly in the face of efforts to enact such measures predating the Obama administration. With Republican victories in the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans finally had the votes to enact measures they had been pushing for years.

This episode of New Day Saturday sponsored in part by Consumer Cellular. Their contact information is linked.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of CNN's New Day Saturday from October 24:

BORIS SANCHEZ, FILL-IN CO-HOST: Meantime, Pennsylvania's supreme court has ruled that mail ballots cannot be challenged or rejected for signatures that don't match versions that are already on file. And the Texas supreme court this week ruled that drive-thru voting in the state's largest county where Houston is located can continue. The Republican party of Texas argued those Harris County polling places were violating election law. Election law experts have counted over 200 lawsuits filed in the leadup to voting.

CHRISTI PAUL, CO-HOST: The film makers behind Rigged: The Voter Suppression Handbook, as it's called, say there's a well-organized effort to block certain groups from the ballot box. Take a look.

CHRIS JANKOWSKI, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT (from film): '08 was the beginning of the whole demographic tide -- the first election where we could see the demographics impacting. And if we continue to underperform in this multi-racial world that is going to be America, the white voters are going to be a clear minority, the Republican party will cease to exist.

PAUL: Tim Smith is with us. He's the executive producer of the film. ... So we have record numbers of people voting by mail already, and that is because, in large part, of this pandemic, people are afraid to go to the polls. I know that you say that some of the additional security measures are a form of voter suppression. What evidence do you have of that?

TIM SMITH, FILM MAKER: Well, we sort of started our detective work in 2016, and back then President or then-candidate Trump was talking about rigged elections, as he is talking now, President Trump, about rigged elections. Back in 2016, we started our filming, he focused on the polling places, you know, it would be rigged in the polling places. Now, he's talking about vote by mail fraud. The reality is there is no, you know, justification -- there's been lots of studies done that, you know, vote by mail has any fraud, and it's just fallacious, but, you know, it's the same sort of tactics he used back then. 

You're also seeing it in a number of states. You mentioned Texas. There's only one dropoff box per county in Texas. Now, some counties only have a few thousand people, but Harris County, Houston, has more than 2.5 million voters. So, you know, it's just, in Ohio, there's only one polling place per county, early polling place. 

So they really are looking for ways to sort of, you know, impact the growing demographic tide of black and brown voters, you know, which has really sort of started as we made clear in our film in 2008 when Obama won, and the Republicans had to sort of, you know, had one of two choices. Either they could suppress these new voters or they could kind of appeal to them in terms of policies. They, you know, chose the former route, and they've been doing it ever since. It's sort of spread across not only the legislatures with, you know, restrictive voting laws but also increasingly in the courts where, you know, the Republican Senate and Trump have appointed a number of Republican -- or not Republican but judges -- and 25 percent of the new federal judges are, you know, Trump appointees.

SANCHEZ: Tim, you talk specifically about Texas and the situation there, so I want to ask you about that. The governor, Greg Abbott, he's still fighting in court to keep ballot drop boxes to one per county. He's argues that he's expanded access and opportunities to voting in different ways, by expanding early voting by six days and allowing hand delivering of mail-in ballots. Do you not see that as a fair tradeoff?

SMITH: Well, the other thing he did, they've kept only for people over 65 and people who have, you know, what they call legitimate illnesses, and they don't qualify COVID as legitimate illnesses, can do vote by mail. So, you know, he's kind of trying to play it both ways, and, you know, they also have voter ID in Texas which, you know, the Supreme Court has struck down, and then it came back, you know,  after Shelby versus Holder was passed. So people in Texas, for instance, college IDs can't be used, but gun permits can for your ID to vote. So, you know, they're sort of focusing on the type of voters, you know, via this voter ID that they want to get to the polls.

(...)

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