The biggest threat to election integrity doesn't involve voting machines or new state laws
By Gary Abernathy
Biggest threat to election integrity? Silencing voices.
The biggest threat to election integrity has nothing to do with voting machines or the changes in voting laws that so often horrify some in the media, such as asking people to prove they are who they claim to be, or expecting people to put a little effort into registering to vote or even casting their vote.
No, the biggest threat to election integrity is the stifling of voices by our biggest social media companies. Attorney Jonathan Turley, a frequent media commentator, recently highlighted the issue. He wrote:
In the latest attack on free speech, YouTube had demonetized a video disseminated by former Rolling Stone and current Substack journalist Matt Taibbi. YouTube has previously shown open political bias in its censorship and demonetization policies. However, this is remarkably blatant in demonetizing a video that showed how Democrats previously claimed elections of Republicans were stolen — contradicting the narrative maintained in the media and on social media.
The video in question is merely a compilation of countless times since the 2016 election of Donald Trump that Democrats and media figures declared that Trump was not a legitimate president, or that he was elected due to Russian “hacking” and so on. The video features leading Democrats ranging from Hillary Clinton to Chuck Schumer making such statements, along with various media commentators. And yet, suggesting that the 2020 election was not legitimate — a position with which I strongly disagree, but I support the right of people to reach their own conclusions on every subject — will get you banned from the biggest social media sites.
Why was a video that did nothing but show actual statements made in recent years by public figures deemed inappropriate? Who knows, but as Turley concludes:
YouTube and other companies are now openly advancing a political agenda in blocking or demonetizing such postings. This is only likely to get worse as we approach the midterm and 2024 elections. The effort is to actively block resources or access to conservative, libertarian, or contrarians viewpoints.
You can find his column, and the video in question, here. It’s worth your time.
Jan. 6 committee probably not too upset about canceling
The hurricane lashing Florida and other southern states is a disaster for local residents, and our prayers are with them.
As the hurricane approached, the Jan. 6 committee announced that a public hearing it had scheduled for Wednesday would be postponed because of the storm.
That’s a plausible scenario, but it’s also likely that committee members were more than happy to find a reason to skip the session. They had promised back in July to resume hearings in September, after an August break for more “investigations,” but September was slipping away, and various news reports indicated, between the lines anyway, that the committee was hardly ready to start up again.
Just one day before the hearing was canceled, the New York Times reported as follows (this version includes an update the newspaper added on the cancelation):
With only months remaining before it closes up shop, the House Jan. 6 committee is wrangling over how best to complete its work, with key decisions yet to be made on issues that could help shape its legacy. …
…It has yet to settle on whether to enforce subpoenas issued to Republican members of Congress who have refused to cooperate with the inquiry, or what legislative recommendations to make. It must still grapple with when to turn its files over to the Justice Department, how to finish what it hopes will be a comprehensive written report and whether to make criminal referrals. And on Tuesday, it abruptly postponed a hearing that had been scheduled for Wednesday as a hurricane bore down on Florida, even as its members disagreed publicly over whether the next session would be its last.
The panel had not disclosed the topics it intended to cover at its next hearing, and gave no date for rescheduling the session, which will be its first since July. But it is still working to break new ground with its investigation.
Got all that? The committee is “wrangling over how best to complete its work.” “It has yet to settle on whether to enforce subpoenas” or “what legislative recommendations to make.” The committee is debating when to turn over its files to DOJ, how to finish its written report, or even whether its next hearing will be its last, after its members “disagreed publicly” on that question. It had not even revealed “the topics it intended to cover at its next hearing,” and — most startling of all — “is still working to break new ground with its investigation.”
Every time I point out that the committee has come up with nothing that’s really new, I get slammed by people insisting otherwise. It’s good that the New York Times agrees that the committee “is still working to break new ground.”
And so, having a reason to delay its scheduled hearing probably didn’t really upset the committee too much, since it seems to have no idea where to go from here, other than producing another pre-packaged made-for-tv drama accusatory toward Trump and the Republican Party, with no dissenting voices.
As I’ve said many times, this committee exists for political purposes only — to indict Donald Trump in the court of public opinion and to hurt Republicans in the midterm elections. That’s it. And that truth becomes more obvious all the time.
Trump had his chance and he blew it. Time to move on.
In my latest Washington Post column, I revisit the arch of my interest in, and then support for, and finally disenchantment with Donald Trump.
Despite much media criticism of his positions, Trump’s main issues were important. Finally tackling illegal immigration is a goal supported by most Americans, who welcome migrants but agree they should be vetted. Bolstering U.S. energy independence and reworking trade deals were reasonable goals. Defending the traditional beliefs of Middle America without belittling movements reflective of changing times was a balance Trump seemed poised to achieve. I envisioned Trump first trying to work with GOP leaders in Congress but, failing that, moving effortlessly across the aisle to partner with Democrats to achieve his goals.
Unfortunately, Trump went a different direction. Granted, as I point out, he was never given a chance by his opponents. But as president, as the leader of our nation, it was up to him to be better.
But instead of ignoring the pettiness and focusing on his agenda, Trump wallowed in self-pity. Instead of trying to expand his base, Trump chose to alienate even more Americans. And worst of all, when most Americans finally decided that Trump was never going to rise to the occasion and rejected him at the ballot box in 2020, he refused to accept the verdict, incited a riot at the Capitol and encouraged endless election challenges in state after state.
I point out that the millions of Americans who believe in what Trump stood for deserve someone who can actually accomplish those goals. You can read it here.
Maybe not quite as often, but we’ll meet again
Abernathy Road has generally been produced weekly for quite a while, but for the next few months it will appear less frequently due to work and travel schedules. Please continue to follow me at the Washington Post. This newsletter will certainly reappear in your inbox from time to time, just not as consistently. Thanks for reading!