As one of the only legitimate journalists still working at Fox News, Chris Wallace can still be counted upon to confront the misstatements of Republican politicians for whom the cable news outlet usually functions as an eager regurgitator of whatever ludicrous talking point that they wish to deliver to a national audience.
This morning, Wallace worked his magic with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during a discussion of the voting rights legislation currently circulating in the Senate.
Hosting Senator Graham on his morning Fox News Sunday program, Wallace put the South Carolina politician on the spot by asking him directly whether he would change his opposition to Democratic voting rights proposals if they scaled back their bill to match the parameters set out in Senator Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) diluted compromise bill that removes many of the provisions that the GOP has objected to enacting into federal law.
“Sen. Manchin took out a lot of the basic Senate plans, S1, the For the People Act, like public financing of congressional elections,” Wallace explained. “Can you go along with the Manchin stripped-down version? And if not, why not?” he asked.
From the heated protestations by Graham and other senior Republican Senate leaders over the lack of bipartisanship from a Biden administration that had touted its desire to unite the country, one would think that Manchin’s compromise proposal would be met with welcome arms.
Senator Graham, however, still wasn’t impressed by the hand stretching across the aisle.
“I like Joe Manchin a lot,” Graham replied. “But we had the largest turnout in the history of the United States [in 2020] and states are in charge of voting in America. So I don’t like the idea of taking the power to redistrict away from state legislators.”
“You’re having people move from blue states to red states,” he said. “Under this proposal, you’d have some kind of commission redraw the new districts and I don’t like that. I want states where people are moving to have control over how to allocate the new congressional seats.”
“In my view, SR1 is the biggest power grab in this history of the country,” he continued. “It mandates ballot harvesting, no voter ID, it does away with the states being able to redistrict when you have population shifts. It’s just a bad idea.”
While other Fox News hosts may have let Graham’s remarks go unchallenged, Chris Wallace immediately noted that Graham was attributing provisions to Manchin’s compromise bill that weren’t actually being proposed.
“Joe Manchin would say, ‘A lot of the stuff that you just objected to is not in my bill,'” Wallce pressed Graham. “His is a stripped-down version and he doesn’t talk about an independent commission.”
“He just says ban partisan gerrymandering,” Wallace continued. “And as you know, the Constitution does provide federal oversight of state elections,” he added, heading any states rights arguments off at the pass.
Wallace also added a pragmatic element of strategy into the discussion, asking whether rejecting the West Virginia senator’s bi-partisan outreach could motivate the conservative Democrat to abandon his zealous objections against eliminating the Senate filibuster that have been the major obstacle to passing any Democratic agenda without the defection of at least 10 Republican votes.
“If Republicans kill — if you vote as it appears you’re going to, to kill the Manchin version of voting rights, you’ve already, Republicans, voted to kill the bipartisan January 6th commission looking into the insurrection at the Capitol, do you run the risk that Manchin and a couple of other moderate senators will eventually say, ‘Look, bipartisanship isn’t working and you know what? We’re not going to kill the filibuster but we’re going to reduce the number of votes you need to stop a debate from 60 to 55?’ Do you run that risk?” the Fox News host queried.
“I hope not,” he answered. “When we had the Senate, the House, and the White House under President Trump, I had a bunch of Democrats wanting to sign a letter with me protecting the filibuster,” Graham noted. “So I was beat on every day. Why don’t you give in and agree with President Trump to change the rules so we can get the Trump agenda through? I said, no, I don’t think it would be good for the country.”
“I’m not going to be extorted here,” he exclaimed. “I’m asking no more of my Democrat colleagues than I ask of myself. It was very unpleasant to be beat on every day by the president of the United States, President Trump, and his allies to try to change the rules in the Senate to have their way.”
While Graham may found the pressure from Trump to have been “unpleasant,” that discomfort may pale in comparison to the electoral irrelevance that the GOP faces if they fail to prevent Democrats from curtailing Republican efforts to suppress minorities and other supporters of their opposition from voting in future elections.
The South Carolina senator’s fervent opposition to even the slightest compromise on voting rights displays the GOP’s desperation as they realize that their days in power are over forever with any electoral system that isn’t already rigged in advance in the favor.
You can watch a clip of Senator Graham’s appearance today on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace in the excerpt below.
Original reporting by David Edwards at RawStory.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.