Something's rotten in the state of Denmark

Friday, November 12, 2004

Mixed messages

On the one hand, the irregularities are getting covered, when they weren't getting covered last week.

On the other hand, the mainstream news media are all covering it within the frame story of "conspiracy theories and rumors running rampant on the Web." They then, commonly, debunk the Florida opti-scan ballot theory, even though that's been debunked now for several days. This unfortunately distracts and deflects from the legitimacy of many of the real questions in Ohio, Broward County, North Carolina, and other places.

The New York Times headline, for God's sakes: "Vote Fraud Theories, Spread by Blogs, Quickly Buried."

Or on MSNBC, where Chip Reid writes a piece where the headline is "Internet Theories Abound: Even Democratic Party Officials Discount Claims of Unfair Practices."

Washington Post reports in with a headline -- "Latest Conspiracy Theory -- Kerry Won -- Hits the Ether."

The LA Times and Chicago Tribune are carrying similar stories. (We thank reader Rena for pointing some of this out.)

Now, on the one hand, it's great that people aren't ignoring any of what's coming up. On the other hand, these kind of pieces are written in a dismissive, "look at these kooks on the Internet" kind of way. Now, I have friends still sending me the "Look at all these Democratic counties in Florida that voted Republican" mass email, so it's okay for there to be some more public debunking.

But there are legitimately problematic and curious situations in Ohio, Broward County, Florida, or elsewhere, that haven't yet been explained, debunked, or set to rest. Even if there was no actual intention of vote fraud -- and I hope that there was not -- there have been still enough stories of technological glitches and anecdotes suggesting voter suppression that warrant investigation... yes, by the GAO, but also by the media, which seems to still be in the "tin-foil hat people sure are funny" place in covering all of this.

Let the recounts begin.