My guest today is Bob Koehler, author, activist and peace journalist.
Joan Brunwasser: Welcome back to OpEdNews, Bob. Your most recent piece is VOTE RECOUNT VS. THE MEDIA CONSENSUS [11.30.16]. What's the deal with the recount? Hasn't the fat lady already sung? Is this all just a massive case of sour grapes?
Bob Koehler: Democracy isn't merely a matter of one side vs. another. And voting should be more than a way of producing a result, and once the result is achieved the democratic process disappears for four years. Democracy is, first of all, reverence for the process of voting, reverence for the vote, reverence for the complex expression of popular will. That said, spending a certain amount of time, effort and money on ensuring an accurate vote count makes obvious sense. That's what the recount is: an outside, independent look at a sample of the results. The recount should be bigger than just the Wisconsin vote, of course. Those who oppose the recount -- primarily, the mainstream media -- seem to think that a quick-forming media consensus has more value in deciding who our next president is than the independently verified accuracy of the vote.
JB: The press is collectively dumping on Stein. Why do they think that their opinion, ill-founded or no, should trump independent verification of the accuracy of the vote? Is this something new?
BK: A flood of reasons come to mind: arrogance, cynicism, laziness. They've moved on; Trump's the guy, like it or not. Now they're building the news around the reality that he is president, and to challenge that with a recount feels subversive, apparently. Plus, who's Jill Stein? A nobody. She got 1 percent of the vote. She has no business messing with this. This is the subtext I hear just below the surface when I watch the TV news or read the mainstream reporting.
JB: So, who is Jill Stein? It's a legitimate question. She certainly didn't get much exposure during the election season, and when she did, it wasn't flattering. Is she in this to gain the spotlight, shill for Hillary, make a bundle of money? I've heard all of those theories, at great volume. Is there anything to them?
BK: I think it's irrelevant who Jill Stein is. Even if her motives are fuzzy or self-serving, what matters is the recount itself. The media has to keep creating celebrities, whether negative or positive. The focus on Stein's motives, especially speculative focus, based on nothing except personal annoyance, removes focus on such matters as how many votes were discarded and went uncounted. If this number is significant, this is a huge problem even if it doesn't shift the final result. I really think we need a serious, renewed public focus on the process of guaranteeing election integrity. Right now what we get from the media and the punditocracy is instant skepticism, dismissal of all who worry about vote count inaccuracy as "conspiracy theorists." Every time there's a media consensus on anything (the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Saddam's weapons of mass destruction come to mind), we need to worry.