Bobby Harrison’s most recent piece featured in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, and subsequently picked up by the Associated Press, highlights a study by the Brennan Center for Justice in New York on how difficult it is for low income people to obtain a valid form of identification, making it troublesome for them to comply with new Voter ID laws around the country.
You would think a veteran news writer such as Bobby Harrison would do a little of his own research, at least to appear as if he had tried to understand the background of any study on Voter ID and it’s impact on minorities that, when reported, is sure to make ears perk up at the AP, especially in Mississippi.
But, Harrison opted to promote this advocacy effort passing it off as a purely scholarly, non-partisan report with no axe to grind. In fact, the Brennan Center is more akin to a political advocacy organization than an academic institution. While there’s certainly no crime in advocacy, the problem comes when the real nature of that advocacy remains non-disclosed.
Had Harrison done a little digging or source verification, he would have known that this Brennan Center study was the by-product of liberal financier George Soros. Soros’ money, which doesn’t immediately imply guilt, certain imputes influence that might cause a reasonable person to question the Brennan Center’s advertised non-partisan impartiality. Now I can pretty much guarantee you that if the article quoted a study by the US Chamber of Commerce, you’d see huge disclaimers telling the reader that the US Chamber is a business interest group and that the reader should beware.
The Media Research Center reported on the amount of money Soros put into Brennan last October, noting:
“Soros’s Open Society Foundations gave the Brennan Center for Justice $7,466,000 from 2000 to 2010. New York University also received $2,819,540 during this same time period. That’s a total of $10,285,540.”
Bobby Harrison didn’t disclose that and now the Clarion Ledger, Mississippi Press and other statewide AP outlets have run the piece either online or in print.
It’s obvious that Harrison took a quote for his story directly from the Center’s website and passed off their data, if you can call it that, unquestionably as fact. He apparently didn’t even bother to interview the study’s authors to verify their assumptions about Mississippi and update the storyline given the recent efforts by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, on whose shoulders he places the weight of this effort. Harrison’s article used the Brennan study as a thinly-veiled blunt instrument with which to beat Hosemann and Mississippi Republicans who support voter ID over the head.
Harrison either didn’t know the Center’s partisan affiliations (which makes you question his effort) or he knew and used it anyway, which is even worse. Here’s a copy of the study and a new press release. While we here at YallPolitics don’t claim to be non-partisan, we try pretty hard to at least put things in context and to put the raw information in front of readers to let you make the decision about what’s purely factual and what might have partisan influence attached.
This is just another reason why people shouldn’t blindly trust what’s in their local newspapers anymore and why the traditional media in Mississippi is in the sorry state that it currently finds itself.