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David Swanson: Wow Is NPR Soothing

Wow Is NPR Soothing

By David Swanson

Sheesh. Took me 4 hours to drive into DC. I came to hang out with Cindy Sheehan at the White House – that is: outside protesting, where we all should be – and to talk on Pacifica Radio about the elections. Pacifica is broadcasting from the DCCC and DSCC party at the Capitol Hill Hyatt. There's a party in every hotel and train station within the sound of a dying elephant from here. Anyway, the point is: I got stuck listening to NPR, and man is it soothing!

I left home after voting on a machine that failed to display the Democratic candidate's last name, a machine that cheerfully assured me in gigantic font that my vote had been counted. Yes, but for which candidate? I left home imagining that voters across the country were in an uproar over Republican robocalls, that the FBI in Virginia was investigating a variety of complaints ranging from robocalls – posted online for us to hear – to more traditional voter suppression techniques. Some of the calls threaten criminal prosecution for the crime of trying to vote.

In my pre-NPR ignorance I supposed that Colorado police were investigating the "skunking" of Jay Fawcett's campaign HQ, that new GOP-Pushed ID Laws in Arizona were keeping voters away, that "massive computer problems" were causing long lines for voters in Denver, that touchscreens were flipping Democratic votes to Republican votes (MO, IL, FL), that voter complaints were highest in PA, NY, MI, NC, CA, OH, AZ, GA, IL, that Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D-MO) was asked three times to show photo ID at the voting booth despite a court ruling striking down the requirement, that Mean Jean Schmidt (R-OH) couldn't get the scanner to accept her ballot, that Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) was turned away for invalid ID, as Rep. Julia Carson nearly was in early voting, that Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) was turned away for invalid ID, that a Florida Candidate had found unattended voting machines in Pinnelas County, that a San Diego Judge had denied a writ seeking to count paper ballots as "normal ballots" as ordered by the Secretary of State, that lawyers were preparing for major struggles, that 80 percent of Americans were now voting on machines that 60 percent of Americans don't trust, that huge operations were underway to try to monitor election fraud, that in fact rightwing talker Laura Ingraham urged her listeners to swamp the Democratic voter protection hotline to stop them from helping voters.

The strange thing is: in listening to NPR I learned of even more causes to worry even while being assured that everything was running smoothly. I lost count how many times they said "smoothly," and the source of that analysis was in every case an election official – so you know it's true. NPR reported on long lines in the rain, but assured me that this was not the result of any problem but of high turnout. Oh, well that's OK then. NPR regularly switched to reporting on an Al Qaeda conviction but came back to tell me that the election was running smoothly with just a "smattering" of problems, "but nothing like the scale of past national elections." This is strange, because my initial impression is that things are going worse than in 2004, but it’s also strange because NPR avoided reporting on the 2004 problems at the time. Now we're expected to know what happened anyway so that we can see how pleasantly smoothly things are rolling along this time.

NPR gave balanced coverage to the blacking out of exit polls. They had on a "liberal" who thought the exit polls had gotten it "wrong" last time and that we should therefore be protected from knowing about them too early, and another "liberal" who agreed with that. These two spokespeople were Arianna Huffington and a guy from Wonkette. (They have guys at Wonkette?) Later NPR brought on a guy from Pew who said it was important to black out the exit polls until 5 p.m. in order not to "send the stock market in the wrong direction."

Fortunately, we have pre-election polls that paint a clear picture in many races, and we have turnout estimates reported early – high turnout everywhere I've heard. Find more information at and and get ready to fight for your votes!


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