For hundred of years, political candidates have expressed concern (sometimes legitimate) about how big cities run elections in the United States.
But this year is different.
It marks the first Presidential election where the media feels entitled to step in and “explain” away concerns about ballot tampering and voter fraud or diminish them on the grounds they are unproven, disputed or even false.
For example, President Donald Trump, a Republican, tweeted Wednesday that the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania is “working hard to make up 500,000 vote advantage in Pennsylvania disappear — ASAP. Likewise, Michigan and others!”
Facebook flagged Trump’s claim with the statement: “Election officials follow strict rules when it comes to ballot counting, handling and reporting.”
So Facebook effectively diminished Trump’s concern because, as we all know, election officials in Philadelphia follow the rules when it comes to ballot counting, handling and reporting.
Isn’t THIS election interference?
Twitter flagged Trump’s claim with the notice: “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.”
Trump obviously is disputing the way Philadelphia is handling the election process. What is the purpose of Twitter’s caution that Trump’s concern is “disputed and might be misleading.” Twitter is effectively detracting from the legitimacy of Trump’s concern. Who elected Twitter?
If and when Trump files a lawsuit alleging misconduct by Philadelphia election officials, it would be highly unusual for the press to report the allegations contained in his complaint are “disputed” and possibly “misleading” Yet, Facebook and Twitter do not hesitate to denigrate the U.S. President’s concern about election fraud.
What About Philly’s History of Corruption?
Get real. Philadelphia IS notorious for corruption. So notorious that Philadelphia City Life Magazine did a story earlier this year entitled, “The Utterly Ridiculous History of Lawbreaking (and Allegedly Lawbreaking) Philly Politicians.”
City Life pointed out that more than a century ago the muckraking investigative journalist Lincoln Steffens wrote about Philadelphia in a series of articles detailing corruption in U.S. cities. “All our municipal governments are more or less bad,” opined Steffens. “Philadelphia is simply the most corrupt and the most contented.” The story went on to identify egregious episodes of corruption by city officials in recent years.
Just a few months ago, the U.S. Department of Justice criminally prosecuted a Judge of Elections in Philadelphia. Domenick J. Demuro was convicted in March for accepting bribes to cast fraudulent ballots and certify false voting results during the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections in Philadelphia.
DeMuro admitted that a political consultant — whose name was not revealed by prosecutors — paid him bribes to add fraudulent votes for certain Democratic candidates running for judge positions. The consultant took fees from the candidates and used some of that money to pay Election Board officials, including Demuro.
Perhaps Facebook and Twitter should have included a reference to Philadelphia’s shady past with respect to election tampering when it flagged Trump’s concerns?
Social media is not alone.
Politico warned ominously: Trump camp stokes fear over unfounded claims of mass voter fraud in Philly. However, social media is particularly worrisome because it has the unique ability to suppress the circulation of posts and tweets and is seen by many more viewers than traditional media.
We seem to be in a new age where 20-something whiz kids of Silicon Valley feel the imperative to opine about the legitimacy of matters of national interest in the course of reporting these events. God help us.