Newspaper corrects Biden's false claim but president doubles down


  • April 1, 2021
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President Joe Biden looks down at his notes during a meeting to discuss the reopening of schools with the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House photo by Adam Schultz)

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution issued a major correction to its report of President Biden's false claim that a new law in the state cuts back on voting hours.

Biden, however, has doubled down, even after the Washington Post fact-checker gave him "four Pinocchios."

The president had stated the Georgia election closes down polling sites at 5 p.m., just as people are getting off work, Fox News reported.

But the paper said in its correction: "A previous version of this story said the new law would limit voting hours. On Election Day in Georgia, polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and if you are in line by 7 p.m., you are allowed to cast your ballot. Nothing in the new law changes those rules."

The newspaper noted the law made some changes to early voting and adds "second mandatory Saturday of early voting for general elections but removes two weeks of early voting before runoffs."

Biden claimed the law signed by Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp made it harder for working-class people to vote.

"What I'm worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It’s sick. It’s sick," Biden said. "Deciding that you’re going to end voting at five o'clock when working people are just getting off work."

A day later, he said, "Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over."

Fact-checker Glenn Kessler, however, said that's wrong.

"Not a single expert we consulted who has studied the law understood why Biden made this claim, as this was the section of law that expanded early voting for many Georgians," Kessler wrote.

But even after that rebuke, Biden repeated the false statement in an interview with ESPN on Wednesday.

The president affirmed calls for baseball's all-star game to be moved out of Atlanta in protest.

"This is all about keeping working folks and ordinary folks that I grew up with from being able to vote."

Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley noted Biden, among his many false claims about the Georgia election law, has called it "Jim Crow on steroids."

"What is astonishing is that the media itself has fueled this false narrative and it is being used as a key claim in boycotting the state," he said.

Biden falsely claimed: "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? This is all about keeping working folks and ordinary folks that I grew up with from being able to vote."

Turley noted it might be hard to "imagine" because "it is not true and the White House knows that it is not true."

He said that if a president "is going to accuse a state of passing a Jim Crow law (let alone supporting a boycott), there is an expectation of a modicum of accuracy and fairness."

"Otherwise, it degrades not just the movement for voting rights but the office of the presidency itself."

He said Biden is "disingenuous and false" in making that claim and another about banning water distribution.

"It is common to bar any political campaigning or activities within a certain number of feet (often 150 feet — or a shorter distance from any line extending beyond that area)," he noted.

What Biden is calling a water ban actually states: "(a) No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector, nor shall any person solicit signatures for any petition, nor shall any person, other than election officials discharging their duties, establish or set up any tables or booths on any day in which ballots are being cast … Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is .. Within any polling place; or … Within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place."

Turley wrote: "The level of misrepresentation of these provisions in the media has been chilling. The narrative has overwhelmed the news on the factual basis of these claims."

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