There are conspiracy nuts out there on the Internet who think that John Kerry defeated George Bush in Ohio and other states. I know, because I wrote “Kerry Won” for TomPaine.com two days after the election.
“Kerry Won” was the latest in a series coming out of a five-year investigation, begun in November 2000, for BBC Television Newsnight and Britain’s Guardian papers, dissecting that greasy sausage called American electoral democracy.
On November 11, a week after TomPaine.com put the report out on the ‘Net, I received an email from the New York Times Washington Bureau. Hot on the investigation of the veracity of the vote, the Times reporter asked me pointed questions:
Question #1: Are you a “sore loser”?
Question #2: Are you a “conspiracy nut”?
There was no third question. Investigation of the vote was, apparently, complete. The next day, their thorough analysis of the evidence yielded a front-page story, “VOTE FRAUD THEORIES, SPREAD BY BLOGS, ARE QUICKLY BURIED.”
Here’s a bit of what the Paper of Record failed to record.
In June 2004, well before the election, my co-author of “Jim Crow” Rev. Jesse Jackson brought me to Chicago. We had breakfast with Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards. The Reverend asked the Senator to read my report of the “spoilage” of Black votes-one million African Americans who cast ballots in 2000 but did not have their votes register on the machines.
Edwards said he’d read it over after he’d had his bagel. Jackson snatched away his bagel. No read, no bagel. A hungry Senator was genuinely concerned-these were, after all, Democrats whose votes did not tally, and he shot the information to John Kerry. A couple of weeks later, Kerry told the NAACP convention that one million African-American votes were not counted in 2000, but in 2004 he would not let it happen again.
But he did let it happen again. More than a million votes in 2004 were cast and not counted.
As a reporter, it’s not my job to help the Democratic Party learn to tie its shoes. And, as a nonpartisan journalist, I’m not out to expose the Republican Party’s new elaborate campaign to prevent voters from voting-but I must report it. However, editors and news producers in my home country, the USA, seem less than interested. Indeed, they are downright hostile to reporting this story of the shoplifting of our democracy.
America has an apartheid voting system, denying African-Americans, Hispanics and American Natives the assurance their ballots will count. Worse, America has an apartheid media which denies racial disenfranchisement a seat at the front of the news bus.
It was in November 2000 I first ran into the U.S. news lord’s benign neglect of the “new Jim Crow” methods of denying citizens of color their vote. While working with the British Guardian papers just days before the 2000 presidential election, I discovered that Governor Jeb Bush and his Secretary of State, Katharine Harris, had wrongly purged tens of thousands of Black citizens from voter rolls as “felons”-when in fact their only crime had been V.W.B.: Voting While Black.
Nothing appeared in the U.S. press. However, I admit that the Florida purge story was picked up by the New York Times … four years later.
Just before the November 2004 election, BBC television Newsnight discovered new, confidential “caging lists” which we got our hands on from inside the Republican National Committee headquarters. These were rosters of thousands of minority voters targeted to prevent them from voting on election day: a violation of federal law. It was big news in Europe and South America. In the USA, there was nothing except an attack on BBC’s report by ABC’s web site. ABC’s only listed source for their attack on the BBC was the Republican Party.
The story of the purge of Black voters, the million missing Black ballots cast but not counted, the caging lists, and other games used to deny the vote to the dark-skinned and the poor, would have been buried long ago if not for BBC Television, Harper’s Magazine (may it last a thousand years), Britain’s Guardian and Observer, The Nation, the op-ed editors at the San Francisco Chronicle and Seattle Post-Intelligencer and, provocatively, Hustler Magazine. Even if ignored or actively ‘dissed by U.S. “mainstream” media, the story will be continue to be reported, due to the passionate insistence of Reverend Jackson, from a thousand pulpits.
Thanks to GeorgeBush.org for capturing the ‘caging lists.’ And bless the blogs, for they shall set the truth free: TomPaine.com, Buzzflash, Working-for-Change and other Internet sites carried the story over the electronic Berlin Wall.
Finally, my gratitude to our indefatigable investigative team, particularly Oliver Shykles and Matt Pascarella for their work on this story-on which they continue today-and to Meirion Jones, producer nonpareil at BBC television’s Newsnight.
Project Censored is the media research group of the California State University’s Journalism School which annually chooses the most important stories of the year ignored by America’s mainstream press. This is one of two investigations by the Palast Team which Project Censored highlighted as news that didn’t make the news.
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