— Eugene Scott (@Eugene_Scott) December 1, 2016
CNN’s “New Day” program this morning gathered the thoughts of a group of Donald Trump supporters on issues ranging from the election to the transition and the media. A quick-and-dirty takeaway: Fake, distorted news gets through to people.
Host Alisyn Camerota moderated the discussion, which gained a great deal of traction when Paula Johnson said this: “Voting is a privilege in this country. And you need to be legal, not like California where 3 million illegals voted.” Camerota gave chase, asking where Johnson was getting her information. “From the media. Where else would we get it?” replied Johnson, who mentioned that CNN may have peddled the notion (it didn’t). Pressed specifically on whether she believed that 3 million “illegal people voted in California,” Johnson refused to stand by the figure but did say, “I think there was a good amount because the president told people that they could vote and it happened in Nashua — we caught some people.”
Then came the stunner: “They went into Nashua and they said, ‘The president said I could vote. I’m here illegally,'” alleged Johnson. That’s some allegation, and Camerota asked where she’d heard such a scoop. “On — you can find it — Google it. You can find it on Facebook,” said another member of the group.
So Camerota proceeded to do just that, an undertaking that fingered a rival network. “I see where it came from and it’s — Fox Business Network deceptively edited a clip of Barack Obama to argue that the president encouraged illegal immigrants to vote when in fact he said nothing of the sort when you go back to the transcript,” said Camerota.
Correct: Fox Business earlier this month committed an astounding hatchet job against the president, who had done an interview with Gina Rodriguez on mitú. Introducing the news, Fox Business host Stuart Varney claimed that President Obama, in that interview, “appears to encourage illegals to vote, and he promises no repercussions if they do.”
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.
“When you vote, you are a citizen yourself” is a phrase that should forestall any attempts to twist the president’s words. But Fox Business just glossed over them. Here’s how it chose to edit the exchange:
HOST GINA 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. The sanctity of the vote is strictly confidential.
How did Fox Business pick up this story line? We’ve asked the network for comment. What is clear is that this lie made the rounds. Gateway Pundit published a story under this headline: “Criminal President Obama Encourages Illegal Aliens to Vote – Promises No Repercussions (VIDEO).” Fox Business’s Neil Cavuto was more cautious. After playing a more complete version of the exchange, he said, “The president of the United States is saying, ‘Don’t worry, no one will be spying on you or catching you,'” and ripped Obama for “ignoring the fact that you’ve been questioned about illegal voting.”
In any case, there’s one thing true about this whole episode: You surely can find (completely false) stories about how Obama encouraged undocumented immigrants to vote on the Internet. It’s really, really easy. On Facebook alone, the eager pro-Trump conspiracist can find Obama-as-encourager-of-illegal-voting posts from a wide range of accounts linking to TeaParty.org, USA Supreme, Tell Me Now, Natural News and more. Example:
Yes, people believe this stuff, as Camerota found out this morning.
And just for the sake of full-on fact-checking, Johnson’s claim about the illegal voting in Nashua, N.H., is news to Nashua City Clerk Patricia Piecuch. In a chat this morning with the Erik Wemple Blog, Piecuch said, “Our elections ran extremely smooth on Election Day. I have not heard of any reports of any issues in the wards, whether it was somebody voting or registering to vote.” Asked how Johnson may have reached her conclusions, Piecuch didn’t have much of a notion. “I am aware of which ward she lives in and I have not heard anything from any of my election officials and normally they would report any abnormalities.”