Is it only 'fake news' when a Trump voter says it?
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A video clip from CNN's "New Day" is making the rounds, in which the network interviews those who voted for President-elect Trump, attempting to voice their perspectives. But instead of understanding these voters, the media is roundly criticizing them.
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A Washington Post reporter wrote up one particular exchange between the host of the CNN segment, Alisyn Camerota, and one of the Trump supporters interviewed.

 

Stating at the outset of his piece that “Fake, distorted news gets through to people,” the author’s aim is ostensibly to show that Trump supporters were not compelled by legitimate motivations such as jobs, the economy, or immigration, but rather that they were duped into supporting the president-elect by what he and many in the traditional media deem to be “fake news.” 

Apparently having learned nothing from middle America’s utter shellacking of the Democratic Party on Nov. 8, rather than attempting to humbly understand the heartland, some in the media have chosen to double down on painting Trump-supporting Americans as simpletons who lack the ability to differentiate between real and false information, and thus voted based on allegedly “fake” news.

This if, of course, when they’re not busy calling Trump fans white supremacists or calling for banning Donald Trump from Twitter for “hate speech.”

Enter Trump supporter Paula Johnson.

In the CNN clip, Johnson argues that there was widespread voter fraud in California, and even some in her home of Nashua, N.H., assertions at which CNN host Alyson Camerota literally does a facepalm, signaling with her body her disgust at the charges.

But as it turns out, there’s data that backs up Johnson’s claim. An academic study by Prof. Jesse Richman and Gulshan Chattha has shown that in the past decade, non-citizens voted in great enough numbers to influence the outcome of elections.

Though critics have attacked the study for its sampling methodology, the authors have responded to these concerns, and the data still shows that noncitizen voting is a concern. Although her numbers on illegal immigrant voting in California may be off, Johnson is right in her general claim of non-citizens voting. 

Also at issue in the CNN clip is whether President Obama has encouraged illegal immigrants to vote, which the Trump supporters argued he has. This question can be approached by two angles.

First, in a speech given in 2008, the president seemed to indicate that his own party has been involved in voter fraud. He said

“But look, I come from Chicago, so, so I want to be honest. It’s not as if it’s just Republicans who have monkeyed around with elections in the past. Sometimes Democrats have, too. Whenever people are in power they’re, you know, they have this tendency to try to, you know, tilt things in their direction.” 

From these words it can be reasonably implied that President Obama believes Democrats engage, at least sometimes, in voter fraud.

Secondly, in the now-famous interview in which President Obama is alleged to have said that illegal immigrants can vote, he fails to correct the interviewer when she asserts that illegal immigrants should consider themselves citizens. 

Here is the full exchange: 

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, etc. The sanctity of the vote is strictly confidential in terms of who you voted for. If you have a family member who maybe is undocumented, then you have an even greater reason to vote.

The President’s words, “when you vote, you are a citizen yourself,” are confusing at best. And at worst, he appears to be telling illegal immigrants that if they vote, then that means they’re citizens.

Implying from these remarks, as the Trump supporters did, that he said illegal immigrants should vote, is certainly not “fake news,” but a reasonable interpretation, even if that’s not really what the president meant.

And regarding fake news, how exactly does one determine what is “fake?”

Were the projections that Hillary would win in a landslide, shared nearly universally by the traditional media outlets, also fake news?

Were assertions that Trump would get zero percent of the black vote also fake news?

The latter claim is especially damning considering that Trump got higher share of the black vote than either McCain or Romney. Did newscasters deliberately overplay Hillary’s chances in order to suppress opposition-voter turnout, or were they just spectacularly wrong?

Will they hold themselves accountable for this with the same ferocity that they’re going after what they deem to be “fake” news?

John Gibbs (@realJohnGibbs) is a regular contributor to The Federalist and Real Clear Politics. He’s worked at Apple as an engineer on the iPhone, and has used his fluency in Japanese to teach technology to churches in Japan. John ties together his diverse experiences through writing and commentating on politics and current issues. John holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University and a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.