Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Is Jan Brewer's Election a Failure of Arizona's Media?

All of Arizona's mainstream news outlets refused to remind the public about the lack of election transparency in its two largest counties, expose those involved with election shenanigans and point out the crucial effect SB 1070 has on the voter turnout of legal immigrants. Would the Arizona governor's race have had a different outcome if the press did its job?

The prevailing explanation for Brewer's victory places great emphasis on the national notoriety and polarizing effect of Arizona's SB 1070. Jan Brewer suddenly became the galvanizing centerpiece for racist, hysterical tea-baggers across the country and was met with equal resistance by those outraged by the discrimination sanctioned in the new law. Mainstream media fell for this puppet show hook, line and sinker. The only reporter who seems to understand the motivation behind this bill was Greg Palast, who presented the likely purpose of SB 1070 as a means of disenfranchising Arizona's growing legal Hispanic population. Palast was watching Brewer very closely, because he reported her purging 100,000 Hispanics from the Arizona voter rolls in 2005 when she served as Arizona's Secretary of State.

He states, "What moved GOP Governor Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding number of legal Hispanics, U.S. citizens one and all, who are daring to vote—and daring to vote Democratic by more than two to one."

Palast is no stranger to voter disenfranchisement, because he discovered the game-changing numbers of citizens thrown off of the voter rolls through a fraudulent, inaccurate list of convicted felons in Florida's 2000 election debacle. Despite his expertise, Arizona's press ignored him and, instead, covered the obvious hoopla surrounding their new controversial law.

Long before SB 1070, the Arizona's Democratic political machine was in the process of grooming their next candidate for governor. Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard was presented as the candidate to defeat Jan Brewer, the so-called "accidental governor" appointed as a result of Janet Napolitano's ascension to Secretary of Homeland Security when Barack Obama was elected president. Whatever the monied interests behind the Democratic political machine had in mind, selecting Terry Goddard for this task will prove to be a horrific blunder for the state of Arizona.

Like Jan Brewer, Terry Goddard failed with his most important duty before the Governor's race and, like Jan Brewer, this failure involved a responsibility to ensure the integrity of elections. After repeated requests by those who discovered evidence of illegal activity in the Pima County Elections department, AZ Attorney General Terry Goddard conducted an investigation into the election of a two billion dollar bond measure for the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) in Pima County. Citizens discovered that the current elections division in Pima County manipulated the electronic database files for that May 2006 election. A successful three-year lawsuit by the Pima County Democratic Party against Pima County reaffirmed that electronic database files were public records and collected a mountain of evidence suggesting that the 2006 RTA election was rigged.

As early as the summer of 2007, it became excruciatingly clear that Terry Goddard's investigation was an exercise in public relations designed to falsely reassure the public about the reliability of the Pima County's Elections Division and the 2006 RTA election itself. It was also evident that, in coordination with local corporate press, a campaign was initiated to undermine the efforts of the election integrity movement and confuse the public about the issues surrounding this case.

At the height of Goddard's "dog and pony show", both ballots and poll tapes were snatched by his staff and moved up to Maricopa county for an audit that was proven to be woefully inadequate. The poll tapes provide signed precinct totals that serve as a valuable auditing function when checking the ballots. Attorney General Terry Goddard's decision to take the ballots and poll tapes appears to have been made after it became clear to him that the Democratic Party was close to obtaining the poll tapes and that their expert could detect foul play by examining them.

Goddard's behavior was consistent with somebody wishing to prevent the discovery of foul play through the poll tapes. Not only did he refuse to examine the poll tapes, he also prevented the Democratic party from gaining access to these same poll tapes for a year.

Still the peculiar response of Arizona's media and the Democratic Party's political leadership was silence, even when citizens finally gained access to the poll tapes only to discover that thirty percent of them were missing.

Meanwhile, in Maricopa, the largest county in Arizona, the same election integrity activists sued the Maricopa Elections Department for a number of legal violations. Enough violations to undermine the integrity of this year's elections. Ironically, if any police activity was used to enforce SB 1070 on election day (against Hispanics who haven't already moved out of Arizona), it would be through Maricopa County's Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a willing participant in Maricopa's election audit process.

Arizona's press was all but absent when it came to reporting about Maricopa County conducting a hand count audit before disclosing the figures to be audited. They also failed to report how Maricopa allowed overnight storage of pre-audit ballots in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's warehouse without video cameras, refused to allow precincts to post their totals immediately after the polls closed, blocked observers from seeing the central tabulator's monitors and provided little or no transparency when transporting election materials.

The reason why election integrity was not a bedrock issue in Arizona's gubernatorial race was because both major candidates have compromised election integrity in their careers and the press refused to challenge either candidate on that issue.

What could have happened if the press did its job? Let's assume there was adequate reporting of the RTA debacle in Pima County. Imagine a press that scrutinized Terry Goddard's behavior from the beginning of his investigation. Such coverage would have included asking the right questions at the press conferences and providing and placing reasonable emphasis on all aspects of the RTA election. Would Terry Goddard have been replaced by the Democratic Party machine or challenged in the primary? If so, with a vigilant press and accompanying public pressure, Terry Goddard's replacement would likely support meaningful involvement of citizens in the election process.

Let's fantasize more about the press. Let's assume the press was also analyzing the effect that SB 1070 would have on legal Hispanics daring to vote. In this fantasy, Maricopa's court case was not only reported in an electronic blog in Phoenix, but garnered well deserved attention with coverage throughout the state.

Let's go way overboard and assume this fantasy candidate can form complete sentences and is willing to engage Jan Brewer, whose strategy in the last election was to avoid any interaction or debate until the polls closed.

Could the press have played a role in the outcome of this race? Here's a direct quote from Jimmy Boegle, the editor of the Tucson Weekly: "the election-integrity issue didn't even rate as an issue in the minds of anyone in the statewide race."

This begs the question, "Who's fault is that?"


  1. How much income is the press dependent on from
    from gov/political sources?

  2. The question should be "how much income are candidates relying on from corporate interests like the growth lobby to fund their campaigns-Direct or indirect?" Is mainstream, corporate media participating in any way with the moneyed interests supporting their candidates? Zimmerman and Associates, anyone? Do mainstream publications receive pressure through their owners and are they in any way influenced by the growth lobby, even when they pressure entrenched bureaucrats like Chuck Huckleberry? I'd say the level of incompetence in reporting is too high to simply be blamed on the "erosion of talent in the vision thing".

  3. not bad .. I hope that everyone who will read your entry will pursue their work also. Likewise to the Latino Business they have to be included on the ranking of paginas amarillas so that their business will be successful and more services they need to provide.