|Screenshot of part of first page of Canadian Record's publication of Associated Press story|
Thursday, January 06, 2022
Weekly papers use AP story about vote fraud; one does it in lieu of a look back at 2021, and couples it with an editorial
For the past two decades or more, our first issue of the New Year has traditionally been devoted to a review of the year just past. We have found the process of preparing that news summary a useful one because it offers a different kind of perspective on the events we have covered and the reports we have written. Through the lens of time, our perspective broadens. We can see more clearly how one event led to another, or altered its course. We can view with perhaps more understanding the impact one decision—or moment of indecision—affected another. We can celebrate the achievements of the past, the milestones we have reached, the progress that once may have seemed too inadequate, or painfully slow, but which in that long look back gains in significance.
While that greater perspective often brings greater wisdom, it just as often yields to impatience or frustration or even anger, when we see more clearly our own or others’ mistakes or failures to act—mistakes and failures whose real consequences are more clearly revealed as time passes. It is a useful exercise, though sometimes painful. Our job as journalists is to accurately chronicle this community’s history, to add to the now-131 years of Canadian Record archives. In reviewing the past, we also gain a better grasp of the future—sometimes promising, sometimes troubling, and often both.
Perhaps it is age that has left me, today, with this acute sense of foreboding. I see our country changing, our sense of common purpose in ruins, our civility abandoned, and our democracy under relentless assault. The last year is a difficult one for me to view dispassionately, or review analytically. I close my eyes and still see the images of that violent attack on the U.S. Capitol one year ago today. I still see the crude gallows erected outside the Capitol building, the noose that dangled below, the mob that shattered glass and splintered wooden doors and battered and bloodied the brave—and shamefully outnumbered—officers who tried to protect it. I will never forget how I felt, watching the events of that day, as an angry mob attempted to disrupt the lawful certification of the presidential election—fueled by the soon-to-be former President Trump, who claimed the election had been stolen from him. Trump sat in safety and watched the insurrection take place, reveling in the glory of rioters chanting his name, and refusing—despite the pleas of his allies—to act. It is a day of terror and chaos that I relive daily, both asleep and awake, and may always.
This week, rather than reviewing the stories we’ve covered, the lives we’ve lost and the new lives brought into this world, we have chosen another, more urgent path. We have accepted the generous offer of The Associated Press, allowing us and other community newspaper to republish the report of its months-long investigation “of every potential case of voter fraud in the six battleground states disputed by the former president.” The investigation revealed fewer than 475 cases—“a number that would have made no difference in the 2020 election.” The report published in this edition covers three pages. It is neither easy, nor pleasurable, reading. I urge you to read it anyway. More than that, I ask that you consider the information presented, and the effort that was made to explain, to document, to distinguish truth from lie, to present verifiable facts, to identify sources, and ultimately, to make clear the very real consequences of our failure to defend the democratic process by which we, the people, choose our elected representatives.
Because I am a reporter and journalist—an observer of history—I cannot look away. I have seen the same anger and ugliness and poisonous distrust infiltrate the civic life of Canadian and Hemphill County. I have heard the curses and threats and violent words of those who hate and distrust, and who have used others hate and distrust for their own purpose. It is a fire, once started, that cannot be extinguished, and that blindly destroys anything in its path. I have said it before, written it in these pages, and I am trying desperately to believe it: We are better than this. We must be better than this.