Facts First? CNN Host Don Lemon Insists Biden “Misspoke” On Georgia Election Law . . . Repeatedly

The White House is not the only outfit struggling to explain the false statements repeatedly made by President Joe Biden about Georgia’s election law.  Biden’s false claims have been widely refuted, including by the Washington Post.  Yet, CNN’s host Don Lemon mocked those raising the false statements and insisted that Biden merely misspoke. The problem is that he repeated the false claims after they were refuted and White House Press Secretary Jan Psaki has insisted that Biden was speaking truthfully in the Biden version of “alternative facts.”  What was also not explained on CNN was how the Georgia law is “Jim Crow on steroids” if these two objections are untrue and states like New York and Delaware (and Colorado where the MLB is sending the All-Star game) have stricter provisions. CNN ran the slogan “Facts First” throughout the Trump Administration, but it seems that facts are more fluid in 2021.

Lemon lashed out at critics of Biden as “incredibly dishonest and openly partisan” for his statements on the election law. Lemon mocked those raising the issue:

“Get this, Republicans have a new talking point, trying to turn Trump’s big lie onto Joe Biden, saying Joe Biden is lying about what’s in Georgia’s new voting law that restricts ballot access. New GOP talking point: Trying to turn Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ on to Biden for misspeaking about Georgia’s voting law.”

The problem is that Biden and the White House have continued to assert the statements as true.

During an interview on ESPN, Biden repeated his claim that the law is “Jim Crow on steroids” and added: “Imagine passing a law saying you cannot provide water or food for someone standing in line to vote, can’t do that? C’mon! Or you’re going to close a polling place at 5 o’clock when working people just get off?”

As we previously discussed, it is hard to “imagine” because it is not true and the White House knows that it is not true.  I will not repeat the clearly false claim about closing polling places early.  As the Washington Post noted, “the net effect [of the Georgia law] is … to expand the opportunities to vote for most Georgians, not limit them.”

Even CNN eventually called out the claims as untrue. CNN’s fact-checker Daniel Dale noted that Biden’s statement “is misleading for two reasons. First, the new law does not change Georgia’s Election Day voting hours, which still end at 7 p.m. Second, while the law does set a default end time of 5 p.m. for early voting on weekdays and on Saturdays, counties were already allowed to end early voting at 5 p.m. under the previous law. The new law gives counties the option to offer early voting as late as 7 p.m. if they want to.”

Biden and the White House have also pushed the claim that Georgia will not let voters receive water at polling places, which is demonstrably untrue. The law does not prevent people from giving water to those standing in line. The law allows “self-service water from an unattended receptacle” for voters waiting in line. It also allows anyone to give water or food to any voters outside of limited area around the polling place. The change in the language followed complaints in the last elections that campaigns were circumventing the rules by distributing water and food within the limited area. It makes no sense to bar people from politicking in the area if they can display the same political identifications in approaching people in line for the purpose of giving away free food or drink. Instead, it allows for non-partisan distribution of water in these receptacles. If the concern is truly for the waiting voters, it should not matter that the water is distributed without a political affiliation. States like New York ban any water or item worth more than a dollar. Period.

It is hard to maintain that Biden misspoke repeatedly when his Press Secretary is still trying to claim that he spoke truthfully.  The first evidence that Biden misspoke could be Biden correcting his statements and saying that the Georgia law actually expands the guaranteed hours for voting and that voters can be given water while standing in line from non-political self-service bins.

Moreover, the claims on the hours and water were the primary reasons cited for claiming that the law was worse than the Jim Crow laws — laws that mandated racial segregation. The law does mandate voter identification but so do many “blue” states like Colorado.  New polling shows that, even after this campaign, Americans continue to overwhelmingly support such mandatory identification rules with almost 75 percent in favor of such rules. Indeed, over 50 percent of Democrats support such voter identification rules. Some polling shows 63 percent of Democrats supporting such mandatory rules.

So if Biden misspoke about the hour and water changes, what in the law is worst than Jim Crow?  If it is the voter identification, then blue states like Colorado are equally guilty as are most Democrats who support such provisions.

These issues have been rallying cries for seeking the unprecedented federalization of elections, including a preemption of state voter identification rules.  The campaign was successful in prompting companies like Delta and United Airlines (which require photo identification to fly) to condemn the law as well as the MLB (which requires photo identification to enter the game).

There are legitimate issues to debate on these election laws. Let’s debate them but, as CNN once said, “Facts First.”