How Right-Wing Media Spread A Lie About Obama And Brown People To Get Out Their Vote

Let’s deal with actual facts.
The right wing media will find a new way to race-bait when he leaves office. They always do.
The right wing media will find a new way to race-bait when he leaves office. They always do.

From Gateway Pundit (via Snopes, so as not to link to that trash):

Barack Obama openly called on illegal aliens to vote in Tuesday’s election. This whole administration is lawless! They lie at every turn. They lied to get Obamacare passed. They lied about Benghazi. They lied about Hillary’s private server and emails. And now they are calling on illegal aliens to vote.

Where in the world did this insanity come from? You won’t be surprised to hear that the main driver was Fox. On November 5, just a couple of days before the election, Neil Cavuto, host of the Fox Business News show Coast to Coast, played an incomplete, deceptively edited video (who could have imagined a right wing ‘news’ source would do that, cough, Shirley Sherrod) of the president being interviewed by actress Gina Rodriguez. You can see the full video at the bottom of this post (go to 3:24 for the relevant section):

RODRIGUEZ: Many of the millennials, Dreamers, undocumented citizens ― and I call them citizens because they contribute to this country ― are fearful of voting. So if I vote, will immigration know where I live? Will they come for my family and deport us? OBAMA: Not true. And the reason is, first of all, when you vote, you are a citizen yourself. And there is not a situation where the voting rolls somehow are transferred over and people start investigating, et cetera. The sanctity of the vote is strictly confidential

You and I know even that truncated quote doesn’t show the president calling on undocumented immigrants to vote. You and I also know that the truth is just an inconvenience for those whose goal is to scare people into voting Republican by telling lies about people of color. So, you know how Cavuto was going to react.

CAVUTO: I can’t believe I heard what I heard.   It’s very clear the question is about illegals who may vote and afraid they might be reported to border security. You’re illegal, you cannot vote. And the President of the United States is saying ‘don’t worry no one will be spying on you or catching you.’ Whether you’re for the President of against the President… whether you’re pro immigration reform or anti-immigration reform, you’re ignoring the fact you’ve been questioned about illegal voting which you can’t do. Why? because you’re not a citizen of this country.

Cavuto also brought on former Arizona governor and Trump supporter Jan Brewer to discuss this lie. She called it: “Shocking. Absolutely shocking. He should have absolutely set her straight that if you’re not a citizen, you don’t get to vote.” As you’ll see below, that’s exactly what the president did. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Cavuto agreed with Brewer, saying: “In other words, he is advocating for an illegal act here.” Brewer then added: “Absolutely, and it almost sounded to me like he was encouraging it. Give it a go.”

Another Fox Business News host, Stuart Varney, covered the story and condemned the president in similar terms. His clip showed Rodriguez’s question, and played Obama only saying: “Not true,” and then cutting to “the sanctity of the vote is strictly confidential.”

This lie rocketed around the right wing media (to give credit, one post on Hot Air poked holes in it and provided the full quotation), and was echoed by another major Trump supporter, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who said: “He needs to absolutely, today, correct that. You cannot vote if you’re not a citizen. How basic is this? He is the chief law enforcement officer in America … He needs to make sure that the American people know that you cannot vote if you’re not a citizen. Give me a break. It’s a crime.”

RODRIGUEZ: Many of the millennials, Dreamers, undocumented citizens ― and I call them citizens because they contribute to this country ― are fearful of voting. So if I vote, will immigration know where I live? Will they come for my family and deport us? OBAMA: Not true. And the reason is, first of all, when you vote, you are a citizen yourself. And there is not a situation where the voting rolls somehow are transferred over and people start investigating, et cetera. The sanctity of the vote is strictly confidential in terms of who you voted for. [NOTE: This is where Cavuto cut off the tape] If you have a family member who maybe is undocumented, then you have an even greater reason to vote.
RODRIGUEZ: This has been a huge fear presented especially during this election. OBAMA: And the reason that fear is promoted is because they don’t want people voting. People are discouraged from voting and part of what is important for Latino citizens is to make your voice heard, because you’re not just speaking for yourself. You’re speaking for family members, friends, classmates of yours in school... RODRIGUEZ: Your entire community.
OBAMA: ... who may not have a voice. Who can’t legally vote. But they’re counting on you to make sure that you have the courage to make your voice heard.

Did you notice anything about the part Cavuto left out when he accused the president of encouraging undocumented people to vote? How about where Obama said “they can’t legally vote”? And what the transcript doesn’t show, but the video does, is that Obama emphasized the word “citizens,” making crystal clear who can and cannot vote. But, again, the truth is irrelevant to these right wingers. 

Varney also complained that this story was getting “no media play at all, except here.” Maybe that’s because you and Cavuto made it up out of thin air? You see, this is the second part in the right wing two-step. First, tell a lie designed to exacerbate the racial anxiety felt by a segment of white Americans. Then, when the mainstream media doesn’t cover your lie, you tell your audience: ‘See, you can’t get the truth from them, only from us.’ Throw in Trump screaming about media bias, mix it all together, and you get, well, you know what we just got on Election Day.

Now that we’ve come to the topic of the election, I’d like to share a few thoughts about our country going forward. Just as the election of our first black president did not mean we had entered into “post-racial” America, or ended racism, or any other such naive nonsense, neither does the election of Donald Trump suddenly mean that America remains the land of the KKK.

Let’s deal with actual facts. First, Hillary Clinton—who ran an explicitly anti-racist campaign—got, as of this writing, just about 600,000 more votes than Donald Trump, a lead which will almost certainly grow, perhaps by as much as another million votes. Second, he won an electoral college majority thanks to margins of just over 100,000 votes spread over Pennsylvania (68,000), Michigan (12,000), and Wisconsin (27,000). In other words, shift less than 0.1 percent of the vote and there’s no President Trump. That’s not one percent, but one-tenth of a percent, in an election with what looks like the lowest voter turnout since 1996. Additionally, about 53 percent of voters chose someone other than race-baiting Donald Trump.

Even after President Obama won re-election, many conservatives still went right on saying America is a “center-right country.” We need to learn how to take a page from their book when it comes to messaging. Our ideas and values remain more popular than theirs. People want to support ideas they think are mainstream—look what happened with marriage equality. Telling them ours are not only makes it harder to gain more adherents for them.

None of these observations changes how the election of Trump will affect the groups he has targeted thus far, other vulnerable groups in general. These numbers are cold comfort at best. But please don’t tell me these numbers allow us to say anything definitive about what America is or is not when it comes to racism.

The last thing we can afford to do is point our fingers at black Democrats, white Democrats, men, women, Latinos, or any other specific group in our coalition and say it’s their fault. Separate from the outrageously partisan actions James Comey took ten days before the election, and the sickening way the media engorged itself on the email business throughout the campaign, the candidate and the campaign proved unable to get enough votes where it mattered. Those missing Democratic votes came from every demographic group. Preliminary data indicate that, compared to Obama, she got a smaller percentage of the vote among whites, blacks, and Latinos. Same goes for both men and women.

What next? We pick up our jaws and get back in the ring. We fight like hell to make the country we love the best it can be. We make sure we know what we’re up against—the way that they’ll lie and play on people’s worst fears and prejudices in order to win. We remember why we fight, and for whom we fight—namely every American. And we remember that more of the American people remain on our side than theirs. Who’s with me?

Ian Reifowitz is the author of Obama’s America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity (Potomac Books).

PS-Here’s video me discussing the aforementioned falsely edited clip of Obama. You’ll see how the host tries to pivot to talking about voter fraud. I’d like to think I held up pretty well, given the constraints of being a guest on someone else’s show.

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