The media’s false reporting about new election legislation in Georgia whipped up a controversy that left millions of people grossly misinformed, frightened voters, mired major corporations in high-stakes public relations frenzies, distracted the political discourse, and furthered the country’s divisions. In short, it’s a perfect example of how the media is fueling our national conflict.
In this case, the media uncritically regurgitated Georgia Democrats’ partisan hyperbole, treating a narrative the party strategically crafted to defeat the legislation as fact and turning it into a long and false national news cycle. That news cycle left the public with an impression that the legislation was objectively racist.
That impression scared and motivated the public, leading employees to pressure executives into action. Worse, the false coverage led millions of people to believe that a major political party representing half the country was seeking to reinstate Jim Crow.
The coverage from our country’s major publications was so bad that after a few days, even liberals like Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips and Will Saletan of Slate began pushing back. Those responsible for the bad coverage, which is the bulk of the legacy press, appear to be facing no consequences.
Over at RealClearPolitics, Carl Cannon wrote a poignant column on the offensive absurdity of invoking Jim Crow in this context.
“When Donald Trump likened his being impeached to a lynching, living relatives of Willie Edwards and Emmett Till called this comparison ‘ignorant’ and ‘insensitive’ and ‘offensive.’ They were right,” Cannon wrote. “But now Biden is invoking racist history, and doing it to score partisan political points. Millions of Americans who voted for him hoped they were done having to listen to such blasphemy from the White House.”