NYT Lets Stacey Abrams Rant on 'Voter Suppression,' Pose as 'Race and Gender' Victim

March 7th, 2019 1:25 AM

The New York Times’ Susan Chira interviewed the media’s favorite losing candidate, Democrat Stacey Abrams, who lost her 2018 race for the Georgia governorship to Republican Brian Kemp, in “After Her Narrow Loss, Abrams Takes Stock and Regroups -- Georgia Democrat May Run for President, Senator or Governor,” which occupied the front of the paper’s National section.

It’s a follow-up of sorts to a story last month with the not-at-all-slanted headline, “Stacey Abrams Isn’t Running for President. Should She Be?

Chira, the paper’s senior correspondent and editor on “Gender Issues,” was last flagged down at NewsBusters genuflecting to Anita Hill for the seven-millionth time. Her sympathetic talk with Abrams in Wednesday’s paper also hit the race and gender issues hard.

Chira’s analysis of Abrams’ political prospects as an African-American woman was relatively straightforward, but there was definite cheerleading for her future prospects (so many choices!) and sympathizing over her loss in the gubernatorial race. There was virtually no criticism of her sore-loser conspiracy theories blaming her 2018 defeat on voter suppression, all of which have been found wanting (click “expand”):

Pick a strategy Democrats are considering ahead of 2020, and Stacey Abrams’s narrow loss in the Georgia governor’s race serves either as a blueprint or a warning sign.

Democrats are debating how much voting issues can swing an election, whether identity politics are energizing or polarizing, and if it is better to double down on politically engaged women, people of color and left-leaning voters or tack to the center....

For Ms. Abrams, the answer is unequivocal: Her campaign turned out record numbers of black, Latino and Asian voters, and she also won a larger share of the white vote than President Barack Obama or scions of Georgia political royalty like Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn. She actively courted voters and highlighted issues central to an emerging demographic majority that proved elusive for Democrats in 2016.

Abrams says she will run again, with choices of senator, governor, or even president (click “expand”):

Until then, she has been crisscrossing Georgia -- and making strategic national appearances -- on a combination thank-you and mobilization tour, offering her experience as Exhibit A of a cause Democrats are pressing with renewed fervor: voting rights.

“The fight I see today is a fight for our democracy,” she said at one of those stops, the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus’s annual Heritage Dinner. “It’s not a partisan fight. It’s a hard fight, the fight to defend the right to vote in Georgia. Voter suppression is real.”


She is spurred by her conviction that she lost because her opponent, Brian Kemp, who oversaw elections as secretary of state, took actions that are now being challenged in lawsuits: purging voting rolls, disqualifying voters whose names varied across state databases, and closing polling places.

Chira finally pushed gently back on Abrams’ conspiracy theory:

It is a sweeping conclusion that even many voting rights advocates say remains extremely difficult to prove. Sara Henderson, the executive director of Common Cause Georgia, who worked for Ms. Abrams in the State Legislature and admires her, said: “None of our groups has hard data on exactly what happened. We have no way of knowing, no paper trail.”

The charges infuriate Republicans. “It’s the most incendiary, divisive line of political rhetoric imaginable,” said Brian Robinson, a political consultant who worked in the administration of Georgia’s previous governor, Nathan Deal. “When you say voter suppression, that brings to mind racial connotations of historical acts of abuse by the state. That’s not what is happening here. They’re talking about technical issues.”


Ms. Abrams scoffs at that line of attack [that Democrats embrace socialism]. She thinks people are hungry for bold proposals, but also willing to be led through incremental steps to achieve them....

Chira didn’t take a swing at this slow pitch from Abrams:

“We’ve already seen questions about how Elizabeth Warren reaches for a beer, about Kamala’s racial heritage and how close to 100 percent is it,” she said, referring to the Massachusetts senator and Senator Kamala Harris of California. “We have already seen recaps of questions asked of women’s behavior in leadership that are not asked of men.”

Really? Then how to explain this Times story from Sheryl Gay Stolberg from February 2013 after Republican Sen. Marco Rubio delivered the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union, when Rubio reached for a water bottle on camera: “Rubio’s Thirst Trumps His Message.” A follow-up story called it a “gaffe.”

Chira kept the spotlight soft and flattering to the end, starring Abrams as victim of sexism and racism:

[Abrams] added, “Some of the critiques of me were based on race and gender, some were based purely on race and some were based purely on gender -- I got to experience the entire landscape of concern.”