May 24, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Kobach Story Lacks Balance

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CNN called Kris Kobach’s statements false long before the Kansas Secretary of State had an opportunity to make any claims at all on the cable news station. He appeared on CNN, and the station ran the text “Trump Aide Repeats False Claims of Voter Fraud” beneath the screen as Kobach spoke.

Kobach interview
CNN screen shot of Kobach interview

Not to be outdone by the national media, the Topeka Capital-Journal ran a news story tearing down Kobach’s assertions that illegal immigrants attempt to vote and are sometimes successful.

“Kobach said a statistical analysis of the state’s voter rolls shows Kansas has as many as 18,000 cases of noncitizens on the rolls or attempting to register to vote,” the Cap-Journal reads. “He didn’t say what time period the analysis covered, nor did he say how many had successfully registered to vote. Nor did he say how many had actually voted.”

The story then launches into an Old Dominion Study of electoral fraud that Kobach frequently quotes. The study used the self reports of illegal immigrants who said they voted in the 2008 to determine 11.3 percent of illegal immigrants cast ballots. The percent was later adjusted down to 6.4 percent, which the Journal relayed as “Study debunked.”

Kobach has successfully obtained guilty pleas in six of nine prosecutions of voter fraud, and CNN anchor Kate Bouldan told her audience that isn’t rampant voter fraud as text calling Kobach’s assertions false appeared on screen.

New Hampshire Voter Fraud

Kobach detailed New Hampshire’s same-day voter registration policies that allowed 6,000 people with out-of-state licenses to vote in a 2016 election.

“Kobach said 6,000 people registered using an out-of-state driver’s license, with about 3,000 using a Massachusetts driver’s license. Clinton bested Trump in New Hampshire by 0.3 percent, or about 2,700 votes,” the Cap-J story reads.

Kobach said many of those voters may have been out-of-state residents who voted in New Hampshire. The Topeka paper was quick to point out that Kobach didn’t provide “support for his assertion.”

The paper closes quoting a New Hampshire election official, who has every reason to say his election programs are secure. It also quotes a tweet of a former GOP strategist, Tom Rath, who blasts the Kansas Secretary of State.

“Let me as be unequivocal as possible,” Rath wrote on Twitter, “allegations of voter fraud in NH are baseless, without any merit — it’s shameful to spread these fantasies.”

Media Bias

It’s not difficult to find evidence of a variety of assertions by officials going unchecked in the Topeka Capital-Journal or other papers, but Kobach’s comments draw an atypical amount of scrutiny from the Topeka paper. It’s odd that the editorial writer masquerading as a news writer didn’t delve into some of the timely evidence on the other side. For example, a Texas court recently convicted a woman of voter fraud. She will serve eight years in prison.

A balanced story analyzes both sides of the voter fraud assertions. The paper may have examined tight elections where a few fraudulent votes could be the difference the final result. Consider, for example, the 2008 U.S. Senate race in Minnesota where Democrat Al Franken defeated Sen. Norm Coleman by .01 points, or 225 votes out of almost 3 million. Closer to home, two votes decided the 2011 Gardner, Kansas, mayoral race.

The Topeka Capital-Journal should call its analysis of Kobach’s television interviews ‘opinion,’ instead of allowing its writer’s assertions to masquerade as news.


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