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Big Media’s Democracy Double Standards

Robert Parry Dec 1, 2004

The Washington Post and other leading American newspapers are up in arms about the legitimacy of a presidential election where exit polls showed the challenger winning but where the incumbent party came out on top, amid complaints about heavy-handed election day tactics and possibly rigged vote tallies.

In a lead editorial, the Post cited the divergent exit polls, along with voter claims about ballot irregularities, as prime reasons for overturning the official results. For its part, the New York Times cited reports of “suspiciously, even fantastically, high turnouts in regions that supported” the incumbent. The U.S. news media is making clear that the truth about these electoral anomalies must be told.

Of course, the election in question occurred in the Ukraine.

In the United States – where exit polls showed John Kerry winning on Nov. 2, where Republican tactics discouraged African-American voting in Democratic precincts, and where George W. Bush’s vote totals in many counties were eyebrow-raising – the Post, the Times and other top news outlets mocked anyone who questioned the results.

But why the double standard? Why would Ukrainian exit polls be deemed reliable evidence of fraud while American exit polls would simply be inexplicably wrong nationwide and in six battleground states where Kerry was shown to be leading but Bush ultimately won?

Logically, it would seem that U.S. exit polls would be more reliable because of the far greater experience in refining sampling techniques than in the Ukraine. Also, given the Ukraine’s authoritarian past, one might expect that Ukrainian voters would be more likely to rebuff pollsters or give false answers than American voters.

Instead, the U.S. news media chucked out or “corrected” the U.S. exit polls – CNN made them conform to the official results – while embracing the Ukrainian exit polls as a true measure of the popular will.So, as the Ukrainian people take to the streets to defend the principles of democracy, including the concept that a just government derives from the consent of the governed, the United States – once democracy’s beacon to the world – presents its commitment to those ideals more through hypocrisy abroad than action at home.

A longer version of this article originally appeared at consortiumnews.com