For the second time in less than a week, numerous major news outlets are incorrectly reporting that a state recount is dead in its tracks, when the facts make clear that it’s simply not true. Last week, major media headlines screamed that the Pennsylvania recount effort had been abandoned by Jill Stein; eight hours later they were all changing their story to accurately reflect that she had merely shifted her fight to a different court. And tonight, many of those same major news outlets are screaming that the Michigan recount is “dead” or “finished” even as the facts make clear that it’s once again simply not true.
The real story tonight: a federal judge ruled that he didn’t have the authority to override the 3-1 decision by the decision by the Michigan Board of Canvassers to shut down the recount. However, this federal court move is not a ruling against Jill Stein, but rather a punt. As such, she’s announced that she’ll now shift her court battle to the Michigan Supreme Court. This information is readily available in a statement from Stein, yet it’s garnered anywhere from faint brief mention in the fine print to no mention at all in the reports coming out from major news outlets.
To its credit, this Associated Press report is accurately reporting that Stein is planning to appeal to the state Supreme Court, even though its headline of “The Latest: Federal Judge agrees to end Michigan recount” is incomplete to the point of arguably being intentionally inaccurate. Reports from other major news outlets don’t even make mention of Stein’s planned appeal while rushing to declare the Michigan recount dead.
When the major media outlets swung and missed five days ago by declaring the Pennsylvania recount dead even though Jill Stein had announced two new strategies for continuing the fight, the misleading information was so pervasive that even Donald Trump fell for it before the major news outlets ultimately got the story correct the next day. (For the record, Palmer Report was the only known news outlet to report the Pennsylvania recount shift-in-venue story correctly from the start).
Even if the Michigan Supreme Court were to side against Jill Stein or refuse to hear her case, she would still have recourse with the United States Supreme Court – which could still choose to hear her case despite having just eight members, due to the possibility of decisive 5-3 ruling. So the Michigan recount is at least two major steps away from being at a point where any news outlet could accurately declare it as “dead” or “over.” But that hasn’t stopped them.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report