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November 2, 2014


This critique has been updated 3 times, most recently on July 25, 2016. Click here to jump to that update.

A PolitiFactoid.com Critique of...

Risking 2000 All Over Again

by Lance deHaven-Smith for the Tallahassee Democrat, October 31, 2014
(click here for the story at Tallahassee.com)

When I read this article, I immediately knew it would be the subject of PolitiFactoid.com's next critique. This article is an opinion piece printed in The Tallahassee Democrat (the daily newspaper in Tallahassee, Fla.) and written by Lance deHaven-Smith, Ph.D., a professor at the Reubin Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University. The article was brought to my attention by a Google News Alert I've created to let me know when news articles are published regarding the 2000 presidential election's recount in Florida (one of my favorite topics since such stories frequently contain numerous factoids).

According to his own profile page at FSU's web site, Dr. deHaven-Smith seems to be one of the typical academic "experts" that popular media will sometimes consult when they need "expert" commentary for a news story on Florida politics.

On this occasion, Dr. deHaven-Smith submitted an opinion piece to The Tallahassee Democrat to warn everyone that Florida's 2014 gubernatorial race between incumbent Republican Rick Scott and Democratic challenger Charlie Crist could go down the same path of controversy and confusion that resulted in the wake of the 2000 presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Polls indicate that the Scott-Crist race is extremely close.

Dr. deHaven-Smith has taken the opportunity to revisit Florida's recount debacle of 2000 and opine that Florida's election system never got fixed and is just another disaster waiting to happen if Florida has another very close election, mostly because of those evil Republicans who were in charge of Florida following the 2000 election.

Trouble is, the author is wrong about virtually everything on which his arguments are based, and he makes political accusations that are divorced from reality. See PolitiFactoid.com's critique below, which appears as dark blue, indented type, embedded in excerpts from the article.


Risking 2000 All Over Again

The chickens may be coming home to roost in this year’s gubernatorial election.

After the 2000 disputed presidential election, Gov. Jeb Bush and the Republican-dominated Legislature failed to correct the problems with Florida’s system for handling close elections. In fact, they made the system worse, to embed an electoral advantage to Republicans in closely divided statewide elections.

I wasn't kidding when I said deHaven-Smith blames those evil Republicans for everything. It's the main point in the article's lede. Below, I'll prove that everything in the lede is a fallacy and has no basis in fact.

If the 2014 gubernatorial election is as close as polls now indicate it will be, Florida will experience the same kind of election dispute witnessed in 2000 — that is, one in which ballots rejected by machine tabulators could be counted manually and potentially could decide the election outcome, but also might not be authorized or would have ambiguous and therefore contestable procedures.

This assertion is utter nonsense. Florida could not possibly experience the same kind of election dispute witnessed in 2000. The election technology has been completely overhauled statewide and the entire system has been revamped in numerous ways. A rerun of 2000 is impossible.

Florida is in this situation because Bush and his legislative allies turned a blind eye to the universal problem of errors in mechanical vote tabulation, errors that benefit Republicans because the errors are found most often among Democratic constituencies and in urban areas where Democrats are concentrated.

deHaven-Smith does little to explain why errors might be found most often among Democratic constituencies and in urban areas where Democrats are concentrated. Later in the article, he mentions poor eyesight among the elderly, but that's as far as he goes in offering any explanation.

Any system of mechanical vote tabulation is subject to small but sometimes decisive margins of error. Even the very best equipment available has an average error rate of about 1 percent. In other words, 1 percent of the ballots will be rejected as unreadable or improperly marked, even though the voters’ intentions can often be discerned by manual inspection of the ballots.

I guess deHaven-Smith simply wants readers to trust him on this point about an average error rate of about 1 percent. He cites no reference for this assertion nor any research to back it up. He also fails to tell us how old that information is. We'll just take him at his word, even though he later reports that Florida's error rate in 2012 was about three-quarters of 1 percent.

In the 2000 election, 175,010 ballots were rejected by machine tabulators. Two-thirds of these were “overvotes,” that is ballots on which more than one presidential candidate had been selected. Tens of thousands of these overvotes were “write-in overvotes,” meaning that voters had selected a candidate from the list of candidates and then had written in a name in the place provided for write-ins. Frequently, the name written in was the same as the candidate selected in the list. Even though these votes could not be machine tabulated, they were valid votes, because the voter’s intention could be discerned by manual inspection of the ballots.

The issue of overvoting has been virtually eliminated in Florida. There are no more "hanging chads" or similar overvote issues experienced in the 2000 election because optical scan vote tabulators are required statewide. If a ballot contains an overvote, the optical scan tabulators are designed to spit the ballot back out when it's fed into the scanner (source: The Florida Sun-Sentinel). One would think that deHaven-Smith should know that.

As a practical matter, this means that ballots should be manually inspected whenever the margin of victory in an election approaches the margin of error in mechanical vote tabulation. The election laws in effect in 2000 had set the trigger for manual recounts too low, authorizing manual recounts only when the margin of victory was less than one half of 1 percent of the total votes cast, and yet mechanical tabulations typically err by 3 percent or more for key-punch ballots (which were used in most of Florida’s urban counties at the time).

This is where deHaven-Smith starts making errors of fact.

He writes about a manual recount provision in 2000 that was triggered by a certain margin of victory, as if there were such a thing in Florida law in 2000. There wasn't. Florida's recount law in 2000 spoke only about the requirement for a "recount," not a manual recount, based on a certain margin of victory. The only requirement for any ballots to be counted manually in 2000 was in cases where individual ballots were damaged or defective and could not be tabulated mechanically, and that was required for the initial vote tabulation, not for a recount.

The law in 2000 also authorized manual recounts if a candidate officially protested the election results and requested a manual recount, but whether such a manual recount took place was completely at the discretion of the county canvassing board and had nothing to do with margin of victory.

Aside from his error of fact, deHaven-Smith also complains about the threshold for a recount being too low in 2000. He can blame only the Democrats for that. The one-half of a percent threshold was put into Florida law in 1977 under section 26 of chapter 77-175, Laws of Florida, while Democrat Reubin Askew was governor and Democrats controlled the Florida House and the Florida Senate — a fact that deHaven-Smith fails to point out. Republicans didn't gain control of the Florida Legislature until the mid 1990s. (By the way, I wonder if deHaven-Smith realizes that the Democratic governor for which his employer is named was complicit in creating the recount threshold that deHaven-Smith seems to hate.)

It was only because the election was incredibly close that a manual recount was authorized. However, the election law passed by the Legislature and signed by Bush in 2001 actually made the recount trigger lower. Under the new provisions, a manual recount is authorized only if the returns indicate that the election has been decided by one-quarter of 1 percent of the total votes cast.

This is problematic, because the normal error rate for optical scan systems — the types of election equipment now required throughout Florida — is higher than one-fourth of 1 percent. In the 2012 general election, the Florida Division of Elections reported a statewide error rate of three fourths of 1 percent of the total votes cast. Consequently, the results from any future Florida election decided by between 0.26 and 1 percent of the votes cast will be unreliable and yet will not be verified by manually inspecting the machine rejected ballots.

This is where deHaven-Smith's article really goes off the rails. In the best-case scenario, he has a grossly erroneous and misleading concept of Florida election law, both during the 2000 election and after the law was changed in 2001.

Prior to 2001
In 2000, the margin that triggered an automatic recount was indeed one-half of a percent or less of the votes cast. But, the statute at that time did not say whether "recount" meant that ballots should be run through the tabulating machines again or whether the ballots should be inspected by hand, i.e. a manual recount. Also, county canvassing boards in 2000 could authorize manual recounts if a candidate protested the election, but they were not required to do so.

These were all major factors in the confusion and controversy in 2000. The law also said each county canvassing board was responsible for ordering an automatic recount, which the boards interpreted to mean that they could decide for themselves how to do a recount and that the Secretary of State could not force them to recount in any specific way. From all this, chaos ensued in 2000. And, in light of deHaven-Smith's misguided and unjustified attacks on Republicans in his article, we should keep in mind that all the chaos that ensued during the 2000 election was because of law enacted by Democrats, not Republicans.

After the Law Was Changed in 2001
deHaven-Smith writes that "the election law passed by the Legislature and signed by Bush in 2001 actually made the recount trigger lower" and that "a manual recount is authorized only if the returns indicate that the election has been decided by one-quarter of 1 percent of the total votes cast." Both claims are entirely false. The recount trigger for the initial recount was one-half of a percent before 2001, it remained that way in the 2001 law, and it remains that way today. (See section 102.141(7), Fla. Stat.)

Let's examine what the Republican Legislature actually did in 2001. Republicans created new provisions of law for manual recounts that did not previously exist. Here's how the recount triggers work under the 2001 law enacted by Republicans:

  • If the initial vote tabulation has a margin of one-half of a percent or less, an automatic recount is triggered, and the county canvassing board is responsible for running the ballots through the tabulating machines again, after testing the equipment to make sure it's working properly.
  • After that initial automatic recount is completed, if the margin is one-quarter of a percent or less, then a manual recount of the overvotes and undervotes is triggered automatically, in which case a manual recount is required.
  • In cases where the manual recount does not  get triggered automatically, and the margin after the initial recount is still one-half of a percent or less, then there is still an opportunity for a manual recount. In such a case, a candidate, the candidate's party, or a political committee supporting a ballot measure in question is entitled to a manual recount of overvotes and undervotes upon request. If such a request is made, then a manual recount is required because it's an entitlement.
  • These provisions can all be found in section 102.166, Fla. Stat., the contents of which were created by Republicans in section 42 of chapter 2001-40, Laws of Florida.

The Differences
So, what we had in 2000 was no statutory requirement for a manual recount. The law in 2000 simply required a "recount" if the initial tabulation had a margin of one-half of a percent or less, and county canvassing boards were authorized to conduct the recounts in the manner of their choosing, under their own authority. Did ballots with overvotes or undervotes qualify as being "defective or damaged" and therefore trigger the need to be counted manually in a recount? That was a matter of opinion in 2000, especially since the high volume of overvotes and/or undervotes in the heavily disputed counties made tabulating the votes at any point very difficult.

And, as we saw in 2000, the manual recounts were indeed very difficult, time-consuming, controversial, and, in some cases, dangerous, which are all reasons why many canvassing boards in 2000 didn't want to do them. This was all due to law enacted by Democrats.

Under current law, enacted by Republicans in 2001, two avenues are created by which a manual recount is not only authorized, but required, as described above. There was no such thing under the law enacted by Democrats. This is infinitely more fair and beneficial to everyone involved and is a law created by those evil Republicans that deHaven-Smith's article attempts to defame.

A Vast, Right-wing Conspiracy? Nope
deHaven-Smith insinuates that the Republican law authorizes a manual recount only if the margin is one-quarter of a percent or less. That is completely false, as explained above. Under the law created by Democrats, there was no definitive requirement for manually tabulating votes in a recount, regardless of the margin. Under the Republican law, a manual recount of overvotes and undervotes can be required with the same margin (one-half of a percent) that would trigger the ambiguous "recount" under the law created by Democrats.

Given all that, can Dr. deHaven-Smith (or anyone) explain how the recount law enacted by Republicans embeds an electoral advantage for Republicans in closely divided statewide elections? ... Anyone? ... Anyone? ... Bueller? ... Oh, wait. Keep reading. deHaven-Smith tries unsuccessfully to do that below, but his argument is nullified by his own factual errors.

This has happened more than once in recent Florida history, not just in the disputed 2000 presidential election. The 1988 U.S. Senate race between Connie Mack and Buddy MacKay was decided by 0.8 percent of the total votes cast, and the 1994 gubernatorial race between Jeb Bush and Lawton Chiles was decided by 1 percent of the total votes cast.

Tabulation errors would not insert bias into elections if errors were randomly distributed across the electorate, but they are much more common in Democratic than Republican strongholds. Tabulation errors are highest in counties with high percentages of senior citizens and minorities. In 2000, the county with the highest error rate was Gadsden County, the state’s only majority African-American county. Also in 2000, many senior citizens in Palm Beach County reported that they had voted for the wrong presidential candidate because of poor eyesight and a confusing ballot design.

Remember, according to deHaven-Smith, Republicans are guilty of inserting this "bias" into elections with the 2001 law. He writes that not only did they fail in 2001 to elevate the threshold for recounts from one-half of a percent to some higher percentage, but he also tries to convince his readers that Republicans actually lowered the threshold and thereby made things even worse for minorities and seniors, which hurts Democrats more than Republicans, as he claims. He implies that the Republicans did this on purpose.

Well, readers of this critique now realize that deHaven-Smith is recklessly wrong on that point. Republicans did not lower the threshold for recounts; they actually created requirements for manual recounts to be conducted under certain conditions, where no such requirements existed under the law enacted by Democrats.

It's true that Republicans did not raise the threshold for triggering a mandatory recount. They left it the same as it was prior to 2001 (one-half of a percent or less). However, even the preexisting threshold (enacted by Democrats) isn't good enough for deHaven-Smith.

deHaven-Smith asserts that the higher tabulation error rates in "Democratic strongholds," i.e. counties with high percentages of seniors and minorities, create a disadvantage for Democrats unless the law requires manual recounts whenever deHaven-Smith thinks it should, i.e. whenever the winning margin is lower than the supposed error rate for optical scan tabulators (which could be one percent or three-quarters of one percent — we're not sure). Here are a few points readers should consider along those lines:

  1. As pointed out above, the problem of overvotes has been diminished to virtual irrelevancy because of the way optical scan tabulators handle them, thanks to Republicans. Overvoting was cited by deHaven-Smith as causing two-thirds of the rejected ballots in 2000 to be rejected. In that light, Republicans have already eliminated virtually two-thirds of the problems experienced by minorities and seniors in "Democratic strongholds," and they did so without creating the need for more recounts. How come the article contains no love for Republicans on this point?
  2. Voters have a duty to fill out their ballots properly. Click here or here or here to see the very clear instructions printed at the top of a 2014 sample ballot in Florida, which include the following: "To vote, completely fill in the oval next to your choice. If you make a mistake, don't hesitate to ask for a new ballot. If you erase or make other marks, your vote may not count." (emphasis added) Voters who fail to follow these instructions are, with full disclosure, submitting a potentially invalid vote, due to their own actions. Voters are responsible for filling out their ballots properly. If they need help doing so, officials at the polls can help them. There's really no excuse for goofing up your ballot in this day and age.
  3. Manual recounts are no small thing, especially if they're statewide. They can be difficult, time-consuming, expensive, and can sometimes cause more controversy and problems than they solve, as in the 2000 Florida recounts. It would not be good public policy to create the need for more manual recounts, the way deHaven-Smith wants, if they are not necessary. The debacle of 2000 that deHaven-Smith says Florida could easily relive was caused not simply because the vote was extremely close. The main problems were the key-punch voting machines and their hanging chads, poorly-designed ballots in some counties, and ambiguities in Florida law that meant different things to different people while giving no one statewide authority over a recount. All of those problems have been eliminated... by Republicans.
  4. Regarding deHaven-Smith's claim that ballot errors by senior citizens are harmful to Democrats, I can only assume that deHaven-Smith has failed to keep current with the latest news about which party seniors now align themselves. On March 26, 2014, Gallup reported that "U.S. seniors have realigned with the Republican Party" and that seniors have shifted from a reliably Democratic voting bloc to a reliably Republican voting bloc. So, if deHaven-Smith believes there's an embedded "bias" in the law that harms any political party because of a high error rate among ballots cast by seniors, that alleged "bias" would harm Republicans, not Democrats. Oops.

Error rates can be brought into much closer alignment with manual inspection of machine-rejected ballots, but manual tabulation is authorized only when elections are exceedingly close. Given the closeness of many Florida elections and the importance of Florida in national elections, this bias in the system can lead to assigning victory to candidates who have actually received fewer votes than their opponents. This was the case in 2000; in 2001, a careful review of the machine-rejected ballots by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago found that Al Gore received more legally valid votes than George W. Bush.

Off the rails again. There were two in-depth reviews of Florida ballots following the 2000 presidential election.

  1. A months-long study was commissioned by eight news organizations, including the Associated Press, The New York Times, and CNN. These news organizations enlisted the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago to look at each rejected ballot. This is the study cited by deHaven-Smith. The study found that Bush would probably have still won even if the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed the limited statewide recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court to be completed. The study also found that Bush would probably have still won if the state had conducted the limited recount of only four heavily Democratic counties that the Gore team asked for. The study further found that Gore would probably have won by less than 171 votes if a broad recount of all disputed ballots had been conducted statewide, which was something Gore had not requested. Note the word "probably" in the descriptions of all these findings. How the findings were determined is described by FactCheck.org as "something of a muddle."
  2. Another study by a different consortium of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, USA Today, and Knight Ridder, produced results that led USA Today to report that "George W. Bush would have won a hand recount of all disputed ballots in Florida's presidential election if the most widely accepted standard for judging votes had been applied," but that Gore might have narrowly won if more lenient standards were used.

To say that the findings are something of a muddle is an understatement. For deHaven-Smith to claim that the University of Chicago study found that Gore received more legally valid votes than Bush is disingenous, especially when he left out all the factors that indicate otherwise. Click here for a more complete explanation from The New York Times.

Floridians need to understand that Jeb Bush and his legislative allies put partisan advantage ahead of their responsibility to correct the problems that led to the disputed 2000 presidential election and its flawed outcome. Because the trigger for manual recounts was lowered by the 2001 legislation for election “reform,” the probability has increased that false election outcomes will go undetected. If this year’s gubernatorial election is decided by less than 1 percent but more than one fourth of 1 percent of the total votes cast, Florida will once again be the site of an election fiasco.

Floridians do not need to understand or believe something that's not true. Not only is there no evidence supporting deHaven-Smith's claim, but, as this critique points out, the evidence points in the opposite direction, i.e. that deHaven-Smith is completely wrong in his assertion that the Republicans lowered the threshold by which recounts get triggered. That's not a matter of opinion; it's simply a matter of reading the law. Without that point on his side, deHaven-Smith cannot make a valid claim that Republicans did anything along those lines because the facts prove otherwise.

It's also easy to see that Republicans improved the law tremendously, even if they left the recount threshold the same as it was before. You can argue either way as to whether the threshold is too low, but even if you believe it's too low, the fact remains that the threshold is the same now as it was when Democrats dominated Florida politics, and that the Republicans did not change it. If deHaven-Smith is such an eminent scholar on these issues, shouldn't he understand that? Why doesn't he? Or, perhaps we should ask that if he does understand that, then what was his motivation for writing this op-ed in the first place?

A couple of final items for this critique regarding The Tallahassee Democrat:

  1. I realize deHaven-Smith authored a guest editorial for the newspaper and that he's not an employee of the newspaper. However, at what point does the newspaper take responsibility for ensuring some degree of accuracy in a guest editorial? We don't know how much effort the newspaper put into that in this case, but it seems like the editors did very little along those lines, given the number of inaccuracies. Perhaps a lot of leeway was given to deHaven-Smith, in deference to his "expertise" in Florida politics, but it's that sort of deference that allows "experts" to spew inaccuracies with impunity. Someone at the newspaper needs to grow a pair and challenge crap like this.

    I found several other news stories over the past few days from other Florida news outlets that delve into how close this year's gubernatorial race is and how it's dredging up ghosts of the 2000 election in some people's minds. (See here, here, here, here, and here.) However, those other stories fail to contain all the inaccuracies that appear in deHaven-Smith's op-ed, and at least two stories contain input from both Democratic and Republican officials and politicos who insist that a repeat of 2000 is not in the cards. That makes The Tallahassee Democrat look pretty lame by printing deHaven-Smith's tripe.

  2. Also, some of you might be wondering about the name of The Tallahassee Democrat. According to the newspaper itself, the name has nothing to do with the Democratic Party. When the newspaper was founded in 1905, the original owner reportedly called it The Weekly True Democrat in honor of "the tried and true doctrines of old time democracy of the fathers," presumably the nation's founding fathers. On the surface, that sounds reasonable.

However, it seems very odd that the newspaper's original owner would fail to realize that the founding fathers created this nation as a republic, not a democracy. I can't help but wonder that if the original owner had named the paper The Weekly True Republican, in honor of how the nation was actually founded, would the newspaper now be called The Tallahassee Republican? (Note: See Update #2 below for an interesting development along these lines.)

By the way, The Tallahassee Democrat officially endorsed Democrats in the three highest-profile Florida races this year: the races for governor, for U.S. House, District 2, and for state attorney general. The paper did endorse Republicans for state chief financial officer and commissioner of agriculture, but those two Republicans are not facing serious opposition and are likely to coast to victory easily. The newspaper also urged voters to approve a state constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana and to continue imposing a local-option sales tax for 20 additional years. Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

 

Updates:

UPDATE #1: (November 5, 2014) Rick Scott won the Florida gubernatorial election on November 4 with a winning margin of 1.188 percent of all votes cast. In terms of mishaps, there was reportedly a bit of confusion among voters in Broward County, where some voters were unsure about their voting precincts, but it wasn't any sort of systemic issue or bad enough to cause any serious squawking. In any event, a disasterous rerun of the 2000 Florida election has been averted for one more year, despite the evil Republicans. Hooray!

UPDATE #2: (April 2, 2016) After writing this critique, I set a Google alert for the term "Weekly True Democrat," just in case anyone made note of my observation about what the newspaper should have originally been named. Believe it or not, about 17 months later, something actually cropped up:

  • On April 1, 2016, the newspaper played an April Fool's Day joke on its readers by publishing the paper under the banner of The Tallahassee Republican. Ha, ha. The paper indicated that this was the first and only time it would happen. Hee, hee – it is to laugh. I wonder where they got that idea. A brief commentary in the paper pointed out the joke and repeated the paper's explanation for its name as The Tallahassee Democrat  that I cited above, yet did nothing to explain why the original owner failed to realize that the founding fathers created a republic, not a democracy. For some reason, the paper itself has either completely missed or is purposefully ignoring that big hole in its own story.
  • Here's the most reasonable explanation for the newspaper's name, which I'm quite sure the paper would never admit to:

    In 1905, when the newspaper was founded, virtually every city and town in the Bible Belt was led by Democrats, who dominated everything in the social structure and hierarchy of the South, including politics, government, private enterprise, and law enforcement, up until the late 20th Century. These are the same Democrats who instituted segregation, racial oppression, and the Ku Klux Klan. Yes, Democrats ruled the Old South and were also responsible for the South's infamous Jim Crow era.

    Meanwhile, the Republican Party was viewed as the party of Lincoln, who had recently defeated the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War and ended slavery, before being assassinated by a Democrat. In 1905, only 40 years had passed since the Civil War ended. People who lived through the war and the humiliating Reconstruction were still alive. No upstanding white Southerner of that day (nor anyone who wanted to succeed in any way in the South) would ever publicly associate with the Republican Party (i.e. the party of Lincoln) or anything with the word "Republican" in its name.

    So, we had a situation where the pervasive social mores of the day mandated that Democrat=good, Republican=bad. It's hard to imagine that a fledgling newspaper would be an exception to that rule. With that backdrop, the owner's decision on what to name the paper almost certainly had nothing to do with "the tried and true doctrines of old time democracy of the fathers," whatever that means, and was likely intended to make it clear to everyone (especially Democrat power brokers, a.k.a. potential advertisers) that the newspaper's guiding principles would be the "correct" ones.

  • Anyone with a sense of those historical aspects of the Old South should realize the effect they would have on how The Weekly True Democrat  got its name, despite the newspaper's whitewashed explanation. By the way, I'm not making this stuff up. See this page at PBS.org, as well as here, here, here, and here, for more info about these aspects of the Democratic Party that the party itself would probably erase from history if it could.

    In lieu of erasing history, leftists (including those in the mainstream media) do their best to revise history by creating a mythical narrative that blames Republicans for the Democratic Party's oppressively racist heritage. You can find this myth described frequently by leftists in cyberspace, but some of the links above will disprove that myth for you.

    Sometimes the history of this issue is blatantly rewritten. See below for one example in which MSNBC falsely labeled former Alabama Governor George Wallace as a Republican. Wallace is a poster child for the racist South, and he was a Democrat, just like all Southern politicians who turned racial oppression into an art form. MSNBC later apologized (on Twitter) for the "error," but the damage was already done and the false narrative was advanced. (For details about this "error" and NBC's anti-Republican and pro-leftist track record, click here.)

UPDATE #3: (July 25, 2016) Even after their revisions of history are brought to light and corrected, Democrats and the left-leaning mainstream news media continue to spread their disinformation about Democratic racist George Wallace.

To wit, see below for a video clip from the July 24, 2016, edition of ABC's This Week in which U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) tells "journalist" George Stephanopoulos that Donald Trump is "the worst Republican nominee since George Wallace" during a panel discussion at the Democrats' 2016 national convention. (As we know, former Alabama Governor George Wallace – a proud racist and oppressor of blacks – was a Democrat, not a Republican.)

Stephanopoulos listened dutifully as Ellison spread the false narrative about Wallace being a Republican – which obviously damages Trump and Republicans in general – but said nothing to correct the error.

Why on Earth not? As you might recall, Stephanopoulos went out of his way in 2008 to correct Barack Obama's mistake when Obama mentioned his "Muslim faith" during an interview on This Week. Stephanopoulos was very quick to help Obama remember that he was supposed to say his faith was Christian, not Muslim, and he even went so far as to interrupt Obama to do so.

Eight years later, however, instead of correcting the Democrats' false mythology about racist George Wallace being a Republican, Stephanopoulos was completely silent about it. Why?? Surely Stephanopoulos knew the truth. Why would he let that slide? The falsehood was corrected on the show only because U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) was also part of the discussion, and Cole took it upon himself to set the record straight after ABC's Stephanopoulos (supposedly the "journalist" on the scene) declined to. Stephanopoulos merely snickered and nodded when Cole made the correction. Nice.

Isn't it odd how this keeps happening? See below for both clips.

 

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