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ThinkProgress Smears Coverage of Voting Machine Concerns as "Conspiracy Theory"

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 16:52 By Brad Friedman, Brad Blog | Report

"I think you’d be right to call out Romney and his son for having a financial interest in this company. It doesn’t look good."

- Former Democratic OH Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner to MSNBC, 10/22/12


To be frank, while it's no secret that the Center for American Progress has always been an outside extension of the Democratic Party, their important blog site, Think Progress, has served as a crucial, and journalistically sound fact-checker on the excesses, inaccuracies and blatant fabrications of the Right over the past several years.

I have been more than happy to cite their excellent work on a number of fronts over the years and take no pleasure in calling them, their new Senior Editor Judd Legum, and one of their writers, Aviva Shen, out here on The BRAD BLOG for an egregious and, frankly, outrageous journalistic failure.

It is one thing to make an error. We all do it. It is quite another thing indeed --- and what, in my opinion, separates real journalists from hacks --- when, once called out with independently fact-based and verifiable evidence of those errors, one sticks to the original error come what may.

That's exactly what Legum and Think Progress have decided to do, as the email discussion between Legum and me illustrates below. I'm sorry I have to even run it, but, for journalists, credibility is our only currency --- (especially those of us not funded by major foundations, as Think Progress is...so feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.&item_name=Support+for+The+BRAD+BLOG+Not+For+Think+Progress&item_number=2012" target="_blank">hit the tip jar here!) --- and being smeared, without correction, from a respected institution like Think Progress is extraordinarily damaging to all that we do here.

So here's what happened...

On Monday morning, TP's Aviva Shen posted an article headlined "Why Romney Isn't Rigging Voting Machines". Never mind the fact that neither Shen nor Think Progress have any idea whether Romney is or isn't rigging voting machines --- they present no evidence in the article either way --- what is most outrageous are the factually inaccurate smears in the piece, in which The BRAD BLOG (with a link to this article responding to NBC's Chuck Todd who made a similarly outrageous smear on Twitter over the weekend), as well as Truthout (with a link to this article reposted from FreePress.org by Ohio-based investigative journalists Gerry Bello, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman) and even Forbes magazine, for chrissakes, (with a link to this this Rick Ungar article) are all called out, smeared in fact, by Shen and Think Progress as "conspiracy theorists".

The Truthout/Free Press article, as well as the Forbes piece, offer well-supported investigative journalism highlighting the ties between H.I.G. Capital and Hart Intercivic, the nation's third largest voting machines company. H.I.G. Capital "acquired" Hart in a deal last year, according to the firm who brokered the deal. H.I.G., which is believed to stand for "Hart Intercivic Group", is run by several very major Romney backers, former Bain employees, and is heavily financed by the investment group created by Mitt Romney's son Tagg, with his father's seed money and business associates. Moreover, as the journalists reported, several members of Hart Intercivic's board (40% of the board, in fact) have made direct contributions to the Romney campaign.

What Truthout/Free Press and Forbes did was called reporting or journalism. I briefly, and quite reasonably, offered my take on some of the Free Press' coverage after they original broke the news of the ties between the Romneys and Hart Intercivic some weeks ago, as I explained in my polite article responding to Chuck Todd's smear on Sunday:

The Austin-based Hart company, according to VerifiedVoting.org's database, supplies electronic voting machines and paper ballot tabulators that will be used to tally votes in the Presidential Election this year in all or parts of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

I offered my point of view about those concerns earlier this month, explaining that it was not just the private ownership of Hart's machines by Romney backers which voters should be concerned about, but the private ownership of the similar systems in all fifty states that will once again be used to tabulate the results of this year's Presidential Election with little --- and very often zero --- possibility of oversight by the public or even by election officials.

In that same original article, I had also cited the work on the very same issue by former Think Progress journalist Lee Fang, who now writes for The Nation, and explained that:

Once again, we're reminded of the dangers of the privatization of our once-public electoral system. The company's ties to Romney aren't the only disturbing ones we've seen with similar companies over the years. The fact is, that nobody other than the public should have any sort of control of our elections. The proprietary voting systems now in use in all 50 states, whether owned by Romney associates, a George W. Bush associate (as with Diebold in 2004) or even a company tied to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez (as with Sequoia Voting Systems which blatantly lied about that tie to public officials, and the Canadian firm Dominion which purchased Sequoia and also immediately lied about the fact that Intellectual Property of their voting systems used all across the U.S. is still owned by the Venezuelan firm), continue to be a grave threat to American democracy and confidence in U.S. Elections.

You can read both of those full articles for yourself --- to which Shen's Monday article at Think Progress alluded in her opening graf this way:

A new conspiracy theory being floated around the liberal blogosphere claims that a voting machine company with distant ties to Bain and Company is planning to fix the election for Mitt Romney before the ballots are even cast. The theory, circulated by Truthout, BradBlog, Forbes and others, suggests that Hart Intercivic, a company that owns electronic voting machines in Ohio, will program the machines to tally the votes for Romney. Their motivation for committing this serious crime stems from a sort of investment capital telephone game: Hart Intercivic is partially owned by HIG Capital, an investment company that has business ties to Solamere Capital, Tagg Romney’s equity firm. They also note that four HIG Capital directors have helped raise money for Mitt Romney. Based on these connections, these theorists are concerned that the potential conflict of interest could lead the e-voting machine company to tamper with the election results.

Before you read the emails between myself and TP's Editor Legum, who stands by TP's reporting, incredibly, please keep in mind that a) at some point during the day on Monday they quietly excised the reference to Ungar's article at Forbes without explanation and b) later in the afternoon, after my email thread with Legum, Jennifer Brunner, the former Democratic Secretary of State of Ohio --- whose landmark EVEREST study on e-voting in Ohio I cited in my Sunday article, and who I've interviewed on several occasions over the years (most recently in August here) --- was interviewed about the very same concerns by MSNBC, who, she told: "I think you’d be right to call out Romney and his son for having a financial interest in this company. It doesn’t look good."

Will Think Progress smear MSNBC as "conspiracy theorists" now as well? How about Karen Finney, the former Communications Director for the DNC, now political analyst for MSNBC, who talked about "Tagg Romney [and] those voting machines in Ohio" on Twitter last night after the debate? Is she also a "conspiracy theorist"?

(Never mind that that all happened on MSNBC/NBC, which also happens to employ both Chuck Todd and Donald Trump, whose "Trump birther garbage" Todd compared "voting machine conspiracies" to on Sunday.)

Anyway, that's more than enough background. I suspect the emails yesterday between myself and Legum --- who, again, still stands by the smear of this website, though apparently not the one against Forbes, which has been removed without explanation --- more than speak for themselves...

======================

From: Brad Friedman Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 1:57 PM To: Igor Volsky ; Judd Legum Cc: 'Lee Fang'Subject: URGENT: Inappropriate ThinkProgress attack on BRAD BLOG

Igor & Judd -

I initially sent this to Faiz, though hadn't realized he was no longer there. He directed me to you guys.

Please see the note below ASAP. Also, please note that Aviva also forwards the idea that discussing these matters somehow depresses turnout. She offers no evidence to that end, just makes the assertion. I could send you actual evidence to the contrary, but my main concern is not about her opinion on that, it is on the inappropriate assertions she's made about our work at The BRAD BLOG. Please see the note below, and I hope you'll take corrective measures ASAP.

Best,
Brad

==============================

Faiz -

The article posted by Aviva Shen at ThinkProgress, in which I am cited, is inaccurate, inappropriate, outrageous, unsupported by evidence and I would appreciate if you would add a VERY CLEAR correction at the top of the article concerning its unsupported assertions against The BRAD BLOG.

Aviva writes (among other things):

A new conspiracy theory being floated around the liberal blogosphere claims that a voting machine company with distant ties to Bain and Company is planning to fix the election for Mitt Romney before the ballots are even cast. The theory, circulated by Truthout, BradBlog, Forbes, and others, suggests that Hart Intercivic, a company that owns electronic voting machines in Ohio, will program the machines to tally the votes for Romney.

My take on this issue was made very clear two weeks ago in: About that Voting Machine Company Tied to Mitt Romney and Bain Capital... wherein, I explained the threat to election integrity concerning voting systems is not from Romney associates, any more than from George W. Bush associates or from associates of Hugo Chavez (all of whom have varying stakes in voting machine companies), but rather in the full privatization of our once-public election system, and in the fact that the systems now used are proprietary to those corporations as well as technically impossible for the citizenry to oversee.

I further outlined the dangers of such systems in yesterday's: NBC News Election Expert Chuck Todd: Voting Machine Concerns are 'Conspiracy Garbage' which Aviva had the courtesy to link to, but which makes no claims at all that "a company that owns electronic voting machines in Ohio, will program the machines to tally the votes for Romney."

You know I have long been, and remain, a longtime fan of ThinkProgress. But Aviva's incredibly inappropriate smear against The BRAD BLOG as asserting a "conspiracy" theory is wholly inappropriate and should be immediately rectified prominently and in no uncertain terms.

If you read the two articles linked above, I believe you will find that they do not resemble what Aviva is charging, in any way.

I do not wish to go the route I went against Chuck Todd in this matter, as I believe you guys were not being as derelict as he was. So I am trying to contact you discretely right here. Moreover, I suspect, now that I've pointed these facts out to you, you will do the right thing now that this has been brought to your attention (unlike Chuck who was also given a similar opportunity before I took to the blog instead to make my point.)

If you, or Aviva, have any questions at all --- including tough ones on any of these points, or anything else I have ever reported --- you know you are welcome to reach me either here or by voice (###-###-####). I am happy to go on record supporting anything I have ever reported. Frankly, I'm somewhat disappointed that Avivia didn't attempt to do that before lumping me into a conspiracy theory in which I have not participated.

Brad

Brad Friedman
Publisher/Editor, The BRAD BLOG

==============================
 
From: Judd Legum
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 2:24 PM
To: Brad Friedman
Cc: Igor Volsky
Subject: Re: URGENT: Inappropriate ThinkProgress attack on BRAD BLOG

Brad:

Thanks for your note. I think that your article very clearly suggests that these voting machines could be rigged in Romney's favor. Specifically:

"[I]t was not just the private ownership of Hart's machines by Romney backers which voters should be concerned about, but the private ownership of the similar systems in all fifty states that will once again be used to tabulate the results of this year's Presidential Election with little --- and very often zero --- possibility of oversight by the public or even by election officials."

You then follow with a list of examples, including alleged examples of "gaming elections." And from your previous article:

So whatever the private Republican company reported, accurately or inaccurately, to be the results that night were generally regarded as the official results of the election.

That is virtually the same threat presented by the private, unoverseeable third-party corporations which now control the election machinery --- voting and tabulation systems --- itself in all 50 states in the union. Concerns about this matter are justifiable no matter which party you may or may not support.

So, in my judgment, a correction is not warranted.

Best,

Judd

==============================
 
From: Brad Friedman
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 2:39 PM
To: 'Judd Legum'
Cc: 'Igor Volsky'
Subject: RE: URGENT: Inappropriate ThinkProgress attack on BRAD BLOG

You are correct, in that I did "very clearly suggest that these voting machines could be rigged in Romney's favor". That is not a "conspiracy" theory, that is a fact very well supported in the evidence that I linked to in my piece to Chuck Tood (including links to California's Top-to-Bottom review, Ohio's EVEREST test, studies by Princeton University and Argonne National Labs, etc.)

I also noted, in the same article(s), that the same concerns lie with any private company that has proprietary control of our voting machines, such as Smartmatic, the Venezuelan firm tied to Hugo Chavez and who still has ownership of the Intellectual Property in the Sequoia Voting Systems voting machines used in about a third of the country.

That is very different from Aviva's completely unsupported allegation that I am "floating" a "new conspiracy theory" that "a voting machine company with distant ties to Bain and Company is planning to fix the election for Mitt Romney". That is in the very first graf of her article, and is completely without basis in anything that I have reported on this matter.

She further writes that I have posited that "Hart Intercivic, a company that owns electronic voting machines in Ohio, will program the machines to tally the votes for Romney."

I know you are very busy this time of year, but to say that "a correction is not warranted" in this matter suggests that you have not read either my work or hers very closely. I hope you will review your assessment.

By the way, as far as facts go (that don't have anything to do with smearing my work), Aviva also notes that:

  • "Hart Intercivic is partially owned by HIG Capital". In fact, the company who brokered the deal, Cabrillo Advisors, reports on their website that HIG "acquired" Hart Intercivic.
  • "The rigged machines myth is not only distracting, but harms the effort to get out the vote." As I noted previously, she offers no evidence to support her assertion that discussing the scientific basis for these concerns "harms the effort to get out the vote". I have found quite the opposite in my near-decade in reporting on these issues and, if you like, unlike Aviva, can offer at least some evidence to back up that assertion.

Again, with all due respect, and I have much for you, Igor and the work that Think Progress does every day, the article is just blatantly wrong with respect to The BRAD BLOG's reporting, at the very least, and should be prominently and swiftly CORRECTED to that end.

Once again, please let me know if you have any questions on these matters, any of the points I've made in my letters to you, or on any of my nearly 10 years of well-documented and independently verifiable reporting on this issue.

Brad

==============================

From: Judd Legum
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 2:49 PM
To: Brad Friedman
Cc: Igor Volsky
Subject: Re: URGENT: Inappropriate ThinkProgress attack on BRAD BLOG

Sorry Brad but this email only further convinces me that a correction isn't warranted.

You admit you "very clearly suggest that these voting machines could be rigged in Romney's favor."

We reported that you are "floating" and "suggesting" this will happen.

-- Judd

==============================

From: Brad Friedman
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 2:59 PM
To: 'Judd Legum'
Cc: 'Igor Volsky'; 'faiz.shakir'; Lee Fang
Subject: RE: URGENT: Inappropriate ThinkProgress attack on BRAD BLOG

Of course they "could be". I have long reported that, with an extraordinary body evidence (even showing that they, in fact, have been!) and I otherwise dare you to find either a computer scientist who has worked on a study of these systems, or an election official who has commissioned a study of them that would suggest otherwise!

Aviva didn't say that I reported they "could be rigged". She wrote that I reported that "Bain and Company is planning to fix the election for Mitt Romney" and that "a company that owns electronic voting machines in Ohio, will program the machines to tally the votes for Romney."

If you are able to point to where I've reported any such thing, I will happily apologize for bothering you on this matter. If you cannot, the right thing to do is to CORRECT YOUR ARTICLE swiftly and promptly, as any legitimate journalistic organization would do in this matter.

As you know, there are other ways I can deal with this issue, but I've chosen, out of respect for you guys and the good work that you do, to handle it this way, in hopes that you do the right thing. That you haven't already, frankly, and again with all due respect, is rather astounding to me.

Brad

==============================

From: Judd Legum
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 3:05 PM
To: Brad Friedman
Cc: Igor Volsky
Subject: Re: URGENT: Inappropriate ThinkProgress attack on BRAD BLOG

She wrote that it is a theory which you are "floating" and "suggesting." Which is exactly what you are doing. Not sure we have any reason to go around and around on this anymore. --- Judd

From: Brad Friedman
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 3:13 PM
To: 'Judd Legum'
Cc: 'Igor Volsky'; 'faiz.shakir'; Lee Fang
Subject: RE: URGENT: Inappropriate ThinkProgress attack on BRAD BLOG

Surprising and very disappointing to say the least.

Must head to TV studio now to do Hartmann, will deal with this publicly instead, I guess. Still hope you revisit in the meantime, since I'm quite sure you are unable to support the notion that I have "claim[ed]…that a voting machine company with distant ties to Bain and Company is planning to fix the election for Mitt Romney" or that I have "suggest[ed]… that Hart Intercivic, a company that owns electronic voting machines in Ohio, will program the machines to tally the votes for Romney."

There is no question that they CAN, but that you don't understand the diff between CAN and "will" or "is planning to" is simply remarkable.

For the record, to further help you understand my case, I have never regarded these matters as "conspiracy theory" as Aviva does, because a) It is not a "theory" that this is possible. It has been shown over and again by one scientific report after another and, indeed, has happened. And b) As I have pointed out many many times, it doesn't require a "conspiracy". It requires one insider with the proper access and about 30 seconds worth of keystrokes. That too, is based in firm science.

Think Progress --- and it's excellent Climate Progress blog --- does not regard the science about global warming from climate scientists as "conspiracy theories", that you regard the similar science from computer scientists and security experts (which I have linked to from years of independently verifiable and undisputed studies) to be "conspiracy theory" is indescribably disappointing.

Brad

==============================

When the Senior Editors of New York Times responded similarly via email, defending their inaccurate and damaging reporting regarding the ACORN "pimp" hoax carried out by James O'Keefe, it only took them six months to eventually concede that I was correct, at least in part, before making partial corrections to nearly a dozen inaccurate stories that I had shown them to be incorrect months earlier. Ironically, Think Progress cited much of our reporting on that issue at the time.

I can only hope it doesn't take nearly as long for Think Progress to do the right thing themselves, and issue, at this point, not only a CORRECTION, but --- after a full day of these inaccurate smears against us highlighted at the top of their very well-read web site --- a prominent APOLOGY for this inexcusable journalistic failure.

* * *

UPDATE 10/23/12: My appearances on Thom Hartmann's TV show last night and on Ed Schultz' radio show this morning, discussing Romney/Bain control of Hart Intercivic, the Think Progress smear and related "conspiracies" now right here...

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Brad Friedman

Brad Friedman is an investigative blogger, journalist and broadcaster. Frequent contributor to Salon, Truthout and many other sites, publisher and creator of The BRAD BLOG (BradBlog.com) and the host of KPFK/Pacifica Radio's The BradCast. Follow him on Twitter @TheBradBlog.


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ThinkProgress Smears Coverage of Voting Machine Concerns as "Conspiracy Theory"

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 16:52 By Brad Friedman, Brad Blog | Report

"I think you’d be right to call out Romney and his son for having a financial interest in this company. It doesn’t look good."

- Former Democratic OH Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner to MSNBC, 10/22/12


To be frank, while it's no secret that the Center for American Progress has always been an outside extension of the Democratic Party, their important blog site, Think Progress, has served as a crucial, and journalistically sound fact-checker on the excesses, inaccuracies and blatant fabrications of the Right over the past several years.

I have been more than happy to cite their excellent work on a number of fronts over the years and take no pleasure in calling them, their new Senior Editor Judd Legum, and one of their writers, Aviva Shen, out here on The BRAD BLOG for an egregious and, frankly, outrageous journalistic failure.

It is one thing to make an error. We all do it. It is quite another thing indeed --- and what, in my opinion, separates real journalists from hacks --- when, once called out with independently fact-based and verifiable evidence of those errors, one sticks to the original error come what may.

That's exactly what Legum and Think Progress have decided to do, as the email discussion between Legum and me illustrates below. I'm sorry I have to even run it, but, for journalists, credibility is our only currency --- (especially those of us not funded by major foundations, as Think Progress is...so feel free to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.&item_name=Support+for+The+BRAD+BLOG+Not+For+Think+Progress&item_number=2012" target="_blank">hit the tip jar here!) --- and being smeared, without correction, from a respected institution like Think Progress is extraordinarily damaging to all that we do here.

So here's what happened...

On Monday morning, TP's Aviva Shen posted an article headlined "Why Romney Isn't Rigging Voting Machines". Never mind the fact that neither Shen nor Think Progress have any idea whether Romney is or isn't rigging voting machines --- they present no evidence in the article either way --- what is most outrageous are the factually inaccurate smears in the piece, in which The BRAD BLOG (with a link to this article responding to NBC's Chuck Todd who made a similarly outrageous smear on Twitter over the weekend), as well as Truthout (with a link to this article reposted from FreePress.org by Ohio-based investigative journalists Gerry Bello, Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman) and even Forbes magazine, for chrissakes, (with a link to this this Rick Ungar article) are all called out, smeared in fact, by Shen and Think Progress as "conspiracy theorists".

The Truthout/Free Press article, as well as the Forbes piece, offer well-supported investigative journalism highlighting the ties between H.I.G. Capital and Hart Intercivic, the nation's third largest voting machines company. H.I.G. Capital "acquired" Hart in a deal last year, according to the firm who brokered the deal. H.I.G., which is believed to stand for "Hart Intercivic Group", is run by several very major Romney backers, former Bain employees, and is heavily financed by the investment group created by Mitt Romney's son Tagg, with his father's seed money and business associates. Moreover, as the journalists reported, several members of Hart Intercivic's board (40% of the board, in fact) have made direct contributions to the Romney campaign.

What Truthout/Free Press and Forbes did was called reporting or journalism. I briefly, and quite reasonably, offered my take on some of the Free Press' coverage after they original broke the news of the ties between the Romneys and Hart Intercivic some weeks ago, as I explained in my polite article responding to Chuck Todd's smear on Sunday:

The Austin-based Hart company, according to VerifiedVoting.org's database, supplies electronic voting machines and paper ballot tabulators that will be used to tally votes in the Presidential Election this year in all or parts of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

I offered my point of view about those concerns earlier this month, explaining that it was not just the private ownership of Hart's machines by Romney backers which voters should be concerned about, but the private ownership of the similar systems in all fifty states that will once again be used to tabulate the results of this year's Presidential Election with little --- and very often zero --- possibility of oversight by the public or even by election officials.

In that same original article, I had also cited the work on the very same issue by former Think Progress journalist Lee Fang, who now writes for The Nation, and explained that:

Once again, we're reminded of the dangers of the privatization of our once-public electoral system. The company's ties to Romney aren't the only disturbing ones we've seen with similar companies over the years. The fact is, that nobody other than the public should have any sort of control of our elections. The proprietary voting systems now in use in all 50 states, whether owned by Romney associates, a George W. Bush associate (as with Diebold in 2004) or even a company tied to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez (as with Sequoia Voting Systems which blatantly lied about that tie to public officials, and the Canadian firm Dominion which purchased Sequoia and also immediately lied about the fact that Intellectual Property of their voting systems used all across the U.S. is still owned by the Venezuelan firm), continue to be a grave threat to American democracy and confidence in U.S. Elections.

You can read both of those full articles for yourself --- to which Shen's Monday article at Think Progress alluded in her opening graf this way:

A new conspiracy theory being floated around the liberal blogosphere claims that a voting machine company with distant ties to Bain and Company is planning to fix the election for Mitt Romney before the ballots are even cast. The theory, circulated by Truthout, BradBlog, Forbes and others, suggests that Hart Intercivic, a company that owns electronic voting machines in Ohio, will program the machines to tally the votes for Romney. Their motivation for committing this serious crime stems from a sort of investment capital telephone game: Hart Intercivic is partially owned by HIG Capital, an investment company that has business ties to Solamere Capital, Tagg Romney’s equity firm. They also note that four HIG Capital directors have helped raise money for Mitt Romney. Based on these connections, these theorists are concerned that the potential conflict of interest could lead the e-voting machine company to tamper with the election results.

Before you read the emails between myself and TP's Editor Legum, who stands by TP's reporting, incredibly, please keep in mind that a) at some point during the day on Monday they quietly excised the reference to Ungar's article at Forbes without explanation and b) later in the afternoon, after my email thread with Legum, Jennifer Brunner, the former Democratic Secretary of State of Ohio --- whose landmark EVEREST study on e-voting in Ohio I cited in my Sunday article, and who I've interviewed on several occasions over the years (most recently in August here) --- was interviewed about the very same concerns by MSNBC, who, she told: "I think you’d be right to call out Romney and his son for having a financial interest in this company. It doesn’t look good."

Will Think Progress smear MSNBC as "conspiracy theorists" now as well? How about Karen Finney, the former Communications Director for the DNC, now political analyst for MSNBC, who talked about "Tagg Romney [and] those voting machines in Ohio" on Twitter last night after the debate? Is she also a "conspiracy theorist"?

(Never mind that that all happened on MSNBC/NBC, which also happens to employ both Chuck Todd and Donald Trump, whose "Trump birther garbage" Todd compared "voting machine conspiracies" to on Sunday.)

Anyway, that's more than enough background. I suspect the emails yesterday between myself and Legum --- who, again, still stands by the smear of this website, though apparently not the one against Forbes, which has been removed without explanation --- more than speak for themselves...

======================

From: Brad Friedman Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 1:57 PM To: Igor Volsky ; Judd Legum Cc: 'Lee Fang'Subject: URGENT: Inappropriate ThinkProgress attack on BRAD BLOG

Igor & Judd -

I initially sent this to Faiz, though hadn't realized he was no longer there. He directed me to you guys.

Please see the note below ASAP. Also, please note that Aviva also forwards the idea that discussing these matters somehow depresses turnout. She offers no evidence to that end, just makes the assertion. I could send you actual evidence to the contrary, but my main concern is not about her opinion on that, it is on the inappropriate assertions she's made about our work at The BRAD BLOG. Please see the note below, and I hope you'll take corrective measures ASAP.

Best,
Brad

==============================

Faiz -

The article posted by Aviva Shen at ThinkProgress, in which I am cited, is inaccurate, inappropriate, outrageous, unsupported by evidence and I would appreciate if you would add a VERY CLEAR correction at the top of the article concerning its unsupported assertions against The BRAD BLOG.

Aviva writes (among other things):

A new conspiracy theory being floated around the liberal blogosphere claims that a voting machine company with distant ties to Bain and Company is planning to fix the election for Mitt Romney before the ballots are even cast. The theory, circulated by Truthout, BradBlog, Forbes, and others, suggests that Hart Intercivic, a company that owns electronic voting machines in Ohio, will program the machines to tally the votes for Romney.

My take on this issue was made very clear two weeks ago in: About that Voting Machine Company Tied to Mitt Romney and Bain Capital... wherein, I explained the threat to election integrity concerning voting systems is not from Romney associates, any more than from George W. Bush associates or from associates of Hugo Chavez (all of whom have varying stakes in voting machine companies), but rather in the full privatization of our once-public election system, and in the fact that the systems now used are proprietary to those corporations as well as technically impossible for the citizenry to oversee.

I further outlined the dangers of such systems in yesterday's: NBC News Election Expert Chuck Todd: Voting Machine Concerns are 'Conspiracy Garbage' which Aviva had the courtesy to link to, but which makes no claims at all that "a company that owns electronic voting machines in Ohio, will program the machines to tally the votes for Romney."

You know I have long been, and remain, a longtime fan of ThinkProgress. But Aviva's incredibly inappropriate smear against The BRAD BLOG as asserting a "conspiracy" theory is wholly inappropriate and should be immediately rectified prominently and in no uncertain terms.

If you read the two articles linked above, I believe you will find that they do not resemble what Aviva is charging, in any way.

I do not wish to go the route I went against Chuck Todd in this matter, as I believe you guys were not being as derelict as he was. So I am trying to contact you discretely right here. Moreover, I suspect, now that I've pointed these facts out to you, you will do the right thing now that this has been brought to your attention (unlike Chuck who was also given a similar opportunity before I took to the blog instead to make my point.)

If you, or Aviva, have any questions at all --- including tough ones on any of these points, or anything else I have ever reported --- you know you are welcome to reach me either here or by voice (###-###-####). I am happy to go on record supporting anything I have ever reported. Frankly, I'm somewhat disappointed that Avivia didn't attempt to do that before lumping me into a conspiracy theory in which I have not participated.

Brad

Brad Friedman
Publisher/Editor, The BRAD BLOG

==============================
 
From: Judd Legum
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 2:24 PM
To: Brad Friedman
Cc: Igor Volsky
Subject: Re: URGENT: Inappropriate ThinkProgress attack on BRAD BLOG

Brad:

Thanks for your note. I think that your article very clearly suggests that these voting machines could be rigged in Romney's favor. Specifically:

"[I]t was not just the private ownership of Hart's machines by Romney backers which voters should be concerned about, but the private ownership of the similar systems in all fifty states that will once again be used to tabulate the results of this year's Presidential Election with little --- and very often zero --- possibility of oversight by the public or even by election officials."

You then follow with a list of examples, including alleged examples of "gaming elections." And from your previous article:

So whatever the private Republican company reported, accurately or inaccurately, to be the results that night were generally regarded as the official results of the election.

That is virtually the same threat presented by the private, unoverseeable third-party corporations which now control the election machinery --- voting and tabulation systems --- itself in all 50 states in the union. Concerns about this matter are justifiable no matter which party you may or may not support.

So, in my judgment, a correction is not warranted.

Best,

Judd

==============================
 
From: Brad Friedman
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 2:39 PM
To: 'Judd Legum'
Cc: 'Igor Volsky'
Subject: RE: URGENT: Inappropriate ThinkProgress attack on BRAD BLOG

You are correct, in that I did "very clearly suggest that these voting machines could be rigged in Romney's favor". That is not a "conspiracy" theory, that is a fact very well supported in the evidence that I linked to in my piece to Chuck Tood (including links to California's Top-to-Bottom review, Ohio's EVEREST test, studies by Princeton University and Argonne National Labs, etc.)

I also noted, in the same article(s), that the same concerns lie with any private company that has proprietary control of our voting machines, such as Smartmatic, the Venezuelan firm tied to Hugo Chavez and who still has ownership of the Intellectual Property in the Sequoia Voting Systems voting machines used in about a third of the country.

That is very different from Aviva's completely unsupported allegation that I am "floating" a "new conspiracy theory" that "a voting machine company with distant ties to Bain and Company is planning to fix the election for Mitt Romney". That is in the very first graf of her article, and is completely without basis in anything that I have reported on this matter.

She further writes that I have posited that "Hart Intercivic, a company that owns electronic voting machines in Ohio, will program the machines to tally the votes for Romney."

I know you are very busy this time of year, but to say that "a correction is not warranted" in this matter suggests that you have not read either my work or hers very closely. I hope you will review your assessment.

By the way, as far as facts go (that don't have anything to do with smearing my work), Aviva also notes that:

  • "Hart Intercivic is partially owned by HIG Capital". In fact, the company who brokered the deal, Cabrillo Advisors, reports on their website that HIG "acquired" Hart Intercivic.
  • "The rigged machines myth is not only distracting, but harms the effort to get out the vote." As I noted previously, she offers no evidence to support her assertion that discussing the scientific basis for these concerns "harms the effort to get out the vote". I have found quite the opposite in my near-decade in reporting on these issues and, if you like, unlike Aviva, can offer at least some evidence to back up that assertion.

Again, with all due respect, and I have much for you, Igor and the work that Think Progress does every day, the article is just blatantly wrong with respect to The BRAD BLOG's reporting, at the very least, and should be prominently and swiftly CORRECTED to that end.

Once again, please let me know if you have any questions on these matters, any of the points I've made in my letters to you, or on any of my nearly 10 years of well-documented and independently verifiable reporting on this issue.

Brad

==============================

From: Judd Legum
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 2:49 PM
To: Brad Friedman
Cc: Igor Volsky
Subject: Re: URGENT: Inappropriate ThinkProgress attack on BRAD BLOG

Sorry Brad but this email only further convinces me that a correction isn't warranted.

You admit you "very clearly suggest that these voting machines could be rigged in Romney's favor."

We reported that you are "floating" and "suggesting" this will happen.

-- Judd

==============================

From: Brad Friedman
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 2:59 PM
To: 'Judd Legum'
Cc: 'Igor Volsky'; 'faiz.shakir'; Lee Fang
Subject: RE: URGENT: Inappropriate ThinkProgress attack on BRAD BLOG

Of course they "could be". I have long reported that, with an extraordinary body evidence (even showing that they, in fact, have been!) and I otherwise dare you to find either a computer scientist who has worked on a study of these systems, or an election official who has commissioned a study of them that would suggest otherwise!

Aviva didn't say that I reported they "could be rigged". She wrote that I reported that "Bain and Company is planning to fix the election for Mitt Romney" and that "a company that owns electronic voting machines in Ohio, will program the machines to tally the votes for Romney."

If you are able to point to where I've reported any such thing, I will happily apologize for bothering you on this matter. If you cannot, the right thing to do is to CORRECT YOUR ARTICLE swiftly and promptly, as any legitimate journalistic organization would do in this matter.

As you know, there are other ways I can deal with this issue, but I've chosen, out of respect for you guys and the good work that you do, to handle it this way, in hopes that you do the right thing. That you haven't already, frankly, and again with all due respect, is rather astounding to me.

Brad

==============================

From: Judd Legum
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 3:05 PM
To: Brad Friedman
Cc: Igor Volsky
Subject: Re: URGENT: Inappropriate ThinkProgress attack on BRAD BLOG

She wrote that it is a theory which you are "floating" and "suggesting." Which is exactly what you are doing. Not sure we have any reason to go around and around on this anymore. --- Judd

From: Brad Friedman
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 3:13 PM
To: 'Judd Legum'
Cc: 'Igor Volsky'; 'faiz.shakir'; Lee Fang
Subject: RE: URGENT: Inappropriate ThinkProgress attack on BRAD BLOG

Surprising and very disappointing to say the least.

Must head to TV studio now to do Hartmann, will deal with this publicly instead, I guess. Still hope you revisit in the meantime, since I'm quite sure you are unable to support the notion that I have "claim[ed]…that a voting machine company with distant ties to Bain and Company is planning to fix the election for Mitt Romney" or that I have "suggest[ed]… that Hart Intercivic, a company that owns electronic voting machines in Ohio, will program the machines to tally the votes for Romney."

There is no question that they CAN, but that you don't understand the diff between CAN and "will" or "is planning to" is simply remarkable.

For the record, to further help you understand my case, I have never regarded these matters as "conspiracy theory" as Aviva does, because a) It is not a "theory" that this is possible. It has been shown over and again by one scientific report after another and, indeed, has happened. And b) As I have pointed out many many times, it doesn't require a "conspiracy". It requires one insider with the proper access and about 30 seconds worth of keystrokes. That too, is based in firm science.

Think Progress --- and it's excellent Climate Progress blog --- does not regard the science about global warming from climate scientists as "conspiracy theories", that you regard the similar science from computer scientists and security experts (which I have linked to from years of independently verifiable and undisputed studies) to be "conspiracy theory" is indescribably disappointing.

Brad

==============================

When the Senior Editors of New York Times responded similarly via email, defending their inaccurate and damaging reporting regarding the ACORN "pimp" hoax carried out by James O'Keefe, it only took them six months to eventually concede that I was correct, at least in part, before making partial corrections to nearly a dozen inaccurate stories that I had shown them to be incorrect months earlier. Ironically, Think Progress cited much of our reporting on that issue at the time.

I can only hope it doesn't take nearly as long for Think Progress to do the right thing themselves, and issue, at this point, not only a CORRECTION, but --- after a full day of these inaccurate smears against us highlighted at the top of their very well-read web site --- a prominent APOLOGY for this inexcusable journalistic failure.

* * *

UPDATE 10/23/12: My appearances on Thom Hartmann's TV show last night and on Ed Schultz' radio show this morning, discussing Romney/Bain control of Hart Intercivic, the Think Progress smear and related "conspiracies" now right here...

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Brad Friedman

Brad Friedman is an investigative blogger, journalist and broadcaster. Frequent contributor to Salon, Truthout and many other sites, publisher and creator of The BRAD BLOG (BradBlog.com) and the host of KPFK/Pacifica Radio's The BradCast. Follow him on Twitter @TheBradBlog.


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