This weekend, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched on attack an the Obama campaign that is unambiguously based on a lie. On his Facebook page, Romney posted a note directly accusing the re-election effort of working to undermine the voting rights of military members in Ohio:
President Obama’s lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state’s early voting period is an outrage. The brave men and women of our military make tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to protect their fundamental right to vote. I stand with the fifteen military groups that are defending the rights of military voters, and if I’m entrusted to be the commander-in-chief, I’ll work to protect the voting rights of our military, not undermine them.
The background is that, while all Ohio voters used to enjoy in-person early voting privileges for three days, Republicans in the state legislature this year restricted that right to military members only. The Obama campaign subsequently filed a lawsuit asking that the privileges be extended to all voters:
Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit to restore in-person early voting for all Ohioans during the three days prior to Election Day—a right exercised by an estimated 93,000 Ohioans in the last presidential election. Ohio election law, as currently enacted by the State of Ohio and administered by Defendant Ohio Secretary of State, arbitrarily eliminates early voting during the three days prior to Election Day for most Ohio voters, a right previously available to all Ohio voters.
The injunctive relief sought by the lawsuit is the restoration of early voting rights to all Ohioans, not the cancellation of those rights for military members. One doesn’t need to be a lawyer to understand that—any sentient reporter would get it upon reading the lawsuit in question—but just in case, legal experts have also characterized Romney’s allegations as “extremely misleading.”
Yet many mainstream political reporters are unable or unwilling to discern that a lie has been told, and say so in their reporting. Eric Alterman recently described the pernicious so-called “even-handedness” of much of the political press, and it’s on display in no clearer fashion than in this case—there is zero room for interpretation about what the Obama campaign lawsuit seeks.
Here are the first round of stories from many major outlets, however.
“Romney Says Obama Lawsuit Blocks Ohio Military Voters,” from ABC News’s Matthew Larotonda:
Republicans say a lawsuit brought by Obama for America in July seeks to eliminate additional time for in-person early voting allotted to service members in the battleground state. Democrats, on the other hand, contend the presumptive GOP nominee is deliberately trying to distort the facts.