Politicization of Corporations
In March 2021, President Joe Biden attacked election bills under consideration in many US states:
“President Biden said at his news conference that the voting bills percolating in GOP state Legislatures are ‘un-American,’ ‘sick,’ ‘pernicious,’ and worse: ‘This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.’ C’mon, man, as Mr. Biden likes to say. The comparison is grotesque, and seeing that only requires swimming sideways for a minute to escape the rip current of the media narrative.”(1)
The left-leaning Washington Post fact checker gave Joe Biden its harshest rating of four Pinocchios for false claims that the 2020 Georgia election bill curtails voting hours when it actually expands election access. Lead fact-checker Glenn Kessler wrote:
“One could understand a flub in a news conference. But then this same claim popped up in an official presidential statement. Not a single expert we consulted who has studied the law understood why Biden made this claim, as this was the section of law that expanded early voting for many Georgians.”(2)
Yet Biden continued to repeat his “four-Pinocchio” whopper and other debunked falsehoods, earning a follow-up rebuke from the Washington Post as “President Biden, recidivist.”(3) When confronted with these discrepancies, Biden Press Secretary Jen Psaki wrongly stated basic facts about the law and doubled down on the administration’s false narrative.(4)
Democratic Georgia senator Rafael Warnock was also called out by the Washington Post as an example of Democrats spreading disinformation about the law. Warnock signed an email sent by an advocacy group after the Georgia bill's passage falsely claiming that the law ended no-excuse mail voting and restricted early voting on weekends.(5) When confronted with the Post's report, Warnock admitted that the claims were false.
The Georgia election law offers considerably broader voter access than in New York or Delaware, Biden’s home state. The Wall Street Journal noted:
“Georgia’s law does make it easier to vote, though it also tries to reassure citizens about ballot integrity. The state provides far more days of early voting than New York. It offers no-excuse absentee ballots, unlike Mr. Biden’s beloved Delaware. So who’s really suppressing whom? Georgia’s new law puts limits on drop boxes, but...also makes them a permanent part of the voting system. In 2019, before Covid, drop boxes were illegal.”(6)
Kimberley Strassel explained the background of the law, which in normal times would be viewed as a common-sense election access and integrity measure that would garner broad bipartisan support:
“The left spent last year using litigation and political pressure to alter and weaken election standards across the country. Democratic lawmakers and the Biden administration moved swiftly to cement this effort with a federal takeover of state election law, the bill known as H.R.1…state legislatures are moving to reaffirm longstanding rules and restore confidence in electoral systems that were arbitrarily remade during Covid. ID requirements are no more racist at the ballot box than on a Delta flight. Some 36 states have them, and they've been upheld by the Supreme Court. It isn't Jim Crow to codify the use of the ad hoc drop boxes that sprung up last year. It isn't voter suppression to reaffirm that activists aren't allowed to approach voters in line, especially to solicit votes with gifts (contrary to urban legend, the Georgia law allows poll workers to provide water). The Georgia law expands voting, adding early voting on weekends and providing additional equipment and poll workers in larger precincts.”(7)
Even the leftist New York Times admitted that the Georgia bill expands voting opportunities in ways that particularly benefit urban and disproportionately black voters:
“The law expands the number of required days of early voting, including on the weekend days that progressives covet (two Saturdays are now required instead of one). There's also a provision that requires large precincts with long lines to add machines, add staff or split the precinct. Depending on how this is rolled out, it could be a big win for voters in Georgia's urban areas, who have dealt with some of the longest lines in the country."(8)
Conservatives, in contrast, have viewed the law as what in normal times would be middle-of-the-road legislation that breaks little new ground. Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk argued in Newsweek:
“The state saw an incredible increase from just over 200,000 absentee votes in 2016 to more than 1.3 million in 2020, and according to Ballotpedia, rejections rates of those absentee ballots decreased from 6.4 percent in 2016 to just 0.3 percent in 2020…One would expect that, with so many more people voting absentee for the first time, the rejection rate would go up simply because of user error by first-timers. But the rejection rate didn't go up; it plummeted. In fact, had the rejection rate simply remained the same, Trump would have likely won the Peach State...”(9)
"[F]ar from being Jim Crow 2.0, or 'Jim Crow on steroids,' as Joe Biden has framed it, the law is a ho-hum, vanilla piece of legislation which...was only a five out of 10 on the conservative scorecard—at best. The Democrats' shameless misrepresentation of SB 202 was never a sincere, good-faith argument against the bill's merits. They were intentionally propagandizing to the American people in an attempt to force conservatives to beg for mercy in hopes that our media overlords would stop calling us racists... this modest law represents the absolute bare minimum course correction from the chaos of the 2020 election.”
The Wall Street Journal revealed the hidden agenda behind leftists' “fact-free” claims:
“Ballot access, integrity and administration are all important. Mr. Biden knows this. Democrats aren’t smearing Georgia because they believe their ‘Jim Crow’ nonsense. Their strategy is to play the race card to justify breaking the Senate filibuster, so they can jam through their election reform known as H.R.1 and overrule 50 state voting laws.”(1)
Corporations Pushing Falsehoods
Nonetheless, far-left Democrats have successfully pressured major corporations to assist in purveying debunked falsehoods. Kimberly Strassel observed:
"Corporate chieftains last year criticized Donald Trump for denying his re-election defeat. So it’s quite a spectacle to see them actively spreading the left’s own big lie about elections….Democrats and the activist left have long honed their techniques for intimidating corporations. They successfully pressured companies into withdrawing contributions from free-market groups...into refraining from political contributions [to conservatives]…
“Enlisting corporate America to help peddle a patently false narrative is their biggest success by far... Activists have spent weeks threatening companies that didn’t join them with boycotts, protests and the label of ‘Jim Crow racists,’ and companies have complied. Thus the sight of the nation’s top business leaders monotonously reciting a fact-free narrative.”(7)
Major League Baseball
In “The Biden Baseball League,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board noted:
“If you still doubt that progressive politics dominates nearly every institution of American public life and culture, look no further than Friday’s decision by Major League Baseball to move its summer All-Star Game from Atlanta. President Biden said Wednesday he’d ‘strongly support’ this idea, and the league dutifully obliged two days later.”(6)
The commissioner’s statement conveyed little variation from the four-Pinocchio Biden narrative:
“MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred...said in a statement that ’Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box’ He thus puts a high-minded but distorted patina on a decision to take a side in a partisan debate over the balance between the important values of ballot access and ballot integrity.”(6)
Florida Senator Marco Rubio called out Major League Baseball’s hypocrisy in an open letter:
"Will Major League Baseball now end its engagement with nations that do not hold elections at all like China and Cuba? Will you end your lucrative financial relationship with Tencent, a company with deep ties to the Communist Party and actively helps the Chinese Government hunt down and silence political dissidents? Since Major League Baseball now appears eager to use its "platform’ to demonstrate ‘unwavering support’ for fundamental human rights, will you cease your relationship with the Chinese Government, which at this very moment is committing genocide against the Uyghurs Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR)?"(10)
Major League Baseball is headquartered in New York, a state with voting laws more restrictive than Georgia. MLB moved the 2021 All-Star Game to the white-majority city of Denver. Colorado, a state with more restrictive voting laws than Georgia, had disqualified over 21,000 ballots in 2016 due to voter ID issues.(11) The move was a major economic blow to the black-majority city of Atlanta, with loss of revenue to many minority-owned businesses. MLB ticketholders cannot pick up tickets without identification.
The CEO of Delta airlines similarly caved to spreading false attacks. The Wall Street Journal editorial “Woke and Weak CEOs” notes:
“The [Georgia] voting law ‘is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,’ said the airline’s CEO, Ed Bastian. He groveled that he’d had ‘time to now fully understand all that is in the bill.’ What a clumsy emergency landing. Last week Mr. Bastian said that ‘concerns remain” about the law, while he explained— accurately— that it 'expands weekend voting, codifies Sunday voting and protects a voter’s ability to cast an absentee ballot without providing a reason.’ He added: ‘For the first time, drop boxes have also been authorized for all counties statewide...’ Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed the bill, rightly called foul: ‘Today’s statement by Delta CEO Ed Bastian stands in stark contrast to our conversations with the company, ignores the content of the new law, and unfortunately continues to spread the same false attacks.’”(12)
Noting that Delta is raking in "billions of dollars in a country that doesn’t even have elections,”(7) Senator Marco Rubio tweeted: " "Dear Delta: You are business partners with the Communist Party of China. When can we expect your letter saying that their ongoing genocide in Xinjiang is 'unacceptable and does not match Delta's values’??? #WokeCorporateHypocrites."(13)
Other Corporate Fellow-Travelers
Other major corporations have rushed to condemn the Georgia election law and perpetuate Joe Biden’s four-Pinocchio narrative that the bill is about voter suppression, notwithstanding their apparent inability to offer any specific, accurate critique. The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal, the paper likely most broadly familiar with American companies, wrote:
“There are the big companies racing out PR statements of condemnation, though what’s often most conspicuous is their vagueness... take Coca-Cola’s watery statement. ‘We are disappointed in the outcome of the Georgia voting legislation,’ said CEO James Quincey. ‘Our focus is now on supporting federal legislation that protects voting access and addresses voter suppression across the country.’ He cited no specifics about either bill…
“[S]o much of this CEO posturing cites no facts—or even fails to mention the word ‘Georgia.’ American Express stands ‘against any efforts to suppress voting,’ said CEO Steve Squeri. ‘BlackRock is concerned about efforts that could limit access to the ballot’ said CEO Larry Fink. ‘Governments should be working to make it easier to vote, not harder,’ said Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins.”(12)
In regard to the Georgia election law, Strassel noted that a letter objecting to the legislation from 72 black corporate executives, including the CEO of Merck, "misstates the Georgia rules... One can only hope Merck is more rigorous when conducting pharmaceutical trials."(7)
Many of these same companies have expressed support for the hyperpartisan 2021 HR1 bill seeking to impose federal control on elections and dismantle long-accepted bipartisan election integrity measures in all fifty states. Twenty state attorneys general sent a letter to congressional leaders strongly opposing HR1 and noting its serious “constitutional vulnerabilities.”(14) The lead author, Indiana state attorney general Todd Rokita, noted that confidence in American elections is at an all-time low,(ibid) and that HR1 “basically codifies everything that was irregular or outright wrong or the opportunities for fraud during last year’s election and makes it the law of the land.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused corporations of acting like a "woke parallel government" and noted: "It’s jaw-dropping to see powerful American institutions not just permit themselves to be bullied, but join in the bullying themselves."(15)
Kimberly Strassel concluded: "Smart executives have long understood the value of political neutrality. Corporate America is now throwing its lot in with one of the most partisan, brass-knuckle, dishonest campaigns in recent political history."(7) The Wall Street Journal editorial board noted that "we should expect more from senior business executives, who are supposed to have some backbone and concern for the facts. They’d react with high dudgeon if similar falsehoods were spread about their companies."(12)
1. WSJ Editorial Board. “‘Jim Eagle’ and Georgia’s Voting Law.” Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2021.
2. Kessler, Glen. “Biden falsely claims the new Georgia law ‘ends voting hours early.’” Washington Post, March 30, 2021.
3. Kessler, Glen. “President Biden, recidivist.” Washington Post, April 2, 2021.
4. Durschlag, Jack. "Biden's disputed Georgia voting claims defended -- despite fact check." Fox News, April 2, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/us/bidens-disputed-georgia-voting-claims-defended-despite-fact-check
5. Gardner, Amy, and Mike DeBonis. “How the Corporate Backlash to Georgia’s new voting law is shaping other fights around the country over access to the polls.” Washington Post, April 12, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/georgia-voting-law-backlash/2021/04/11/3074ef34-9893-11eb-a6d0-13d207aadb78_story.html
6. WSJ Editorial Board. “The Biden Baseball League.” Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2021.
7. Strassel, Kimberly. “Corporate America’s ‘Big Lie.’” Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/corporate-americas-big-lie-11617315583
8. Cohn, Nate. "Georgia’s Election Law, and Why Turnout Isn’t Easy to Turn Off." New York Times, April 3, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/03/upshot/georgia-election-law-turnout.html
9. Kirk, Charlie. "Georgia's Voting Law Doesn't Go Far Enough." Newsweek, April 8, 2021. https://www.newsweek.com/georgias-voting-law-doesnt-go-far-enough-opinion-1581740
10. Manfredi, Lucas. “Sen. Rubio: MLB moving All-Star game from Georgia 'reeks of hypocrisy.'” Fox News, April 5, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/us/sen-rubio-mlb-all-star-game-georgia-hypocrisy
11. Callichio, Dom. "FLASHBACK: Voter ID issues prompted Colorado to disqualify more than 21,000 ballots in 2016." Fox News, April 6, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/flashback-voter-id-issues-prompted-colorado-to-disqualify-more-than-21000-ballots-in-2016
12. WSJ Editorial Board. “Woke and Weak CEOs.” Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/woke-and-weak-ceos-11617316767
13. Fearnow, Benjamin. "'Woke Corporate Hypocrites': Delta, Coca-Cola Face GOP Backlash for Knocking Georgia Voting Law." Newsweek, April 3, 20201.
14. Rokita, Todd. [Letter to Congressional Leaders]. Office of the Attorney General, State of Indiana, March 3, 2021.
15. Wise, Lindsay. "GOP Sharpens Criticism of Corporate Pushback on GOP Voting Laws." Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2021.