Sen. Braun’s critique of voter fraud allegation coverage shows lack of understanding of journalists’ psyche


Indiana Sen. Mike Braun recently wrote a column for the Washington Examiner accusing the media of failing to seriously look at accusations of voter fraud.

“The media has fundamentally failed the public by refusing to investigate any question about the integrity of widespread mail-in voting in the 2020 election and by dismissing all concern over documented election irregularities as conspiracy theories,” Sen. Braun wrote.

His charge indicates a lack of understanding of the psyche of journalists.

Journalists love a good story and they dream of breaking the news of improper government behavior. They would love to follow the footsteps of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post.

The two unknown reporters at the time followed the trail of the initial hearing of several men charged with a burglary until it led to the Oval Office of the White House. Woodward was in the courtroom because someone gave him a tip about how the burglary suspects didn’t fit the profile for normal burglars.

A basic element of news is when something unusual happens – “When man bites dog.”

Journalists love a good story and they dream of breaking the news of improper government behavior. They would love to follow the footsteps of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post.

Any reporter in Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania or Arizona presented with information about voter fraud would not ignore the lead. Visions of a Pulitzer Prize would have danced before their eyes if they were the one that broke a story with such national ramifications.

I know Indiana newspapers have written stories in the past about voter fraud. The Reporter-Times reported on fraud that led to the indictment of local officials in Martinsville. The Times of Northwest Indiana followed the case of voter fraud in East Chicago. Both cases involved the use of absentee ballots and violations of election law.

Those cases concerned local elections, so imagine the interest a journalist would have in a swing state where massive fraud could have impacted the winner of electoral votes in that key state.

And if there was a conspiracy to commit massive voter fraud, how many people would need to be involved to make it succeed? And how many checks and balances are in place to block the ability of voter fraud to succeed?

The likelihood of someone reaching out to a reporter with a tip grows with the number of people who would be involved and the checks and balances that would have to be overcome by the conspirators.

I’m confident that reporters in the four states spotlighted since the election did check on allegations they would have received about voter fraud. I’m also confident that the lack of stories exposing voter fraud indicates they were unable to substantiate those claims. Journalists don’t write stories about leads that did not pan out.

Journalists have followed every lawsuit filed in those four states. It has been well-reported how each of those lawsuits have fared before a judge.

Unless one theorizes that the state and federal judges were all also part of a grand conspiracy, one would have to conclude that no evidence was presented to substantiate the allegation of widespread corruption.

I’m confident reporters read the filings in those lawsuits and if they had found evidence presented that raised any questions as to the judicial decision, they would have written the story pointing out the disconnect between the decision and evidence presented. Not having seen any such stories, I’m confident the reporters didn’t see any indication of judicial misconduct that helped hide voter fraud.

Reporters, editors and publishers are too independent-minded to have joined in any vast political conspiracy among the media to help fix an election. Even an attempt to create such a conspiracy would have been brought to the public’s attention by many who would have been recruited to participate in such a conspiracy.

Relying upon my personal experience in journalism that began in 1977, I have to reject Sen. Braun’s contention that journalists failed to do their jobs in covering the 2020 national election.

— Steve Key is executive director and general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association.