OMG the sky is falling, says MSNBC

Andy Johnson to the news media: There are very real threats to our democracy. A delay in reporting Iowa caucus results is not one of them. -promoted by Laura Belin

What a night at the caucuses! I’m proud as heck to be an Iowa Democrat.

We were two of over 400 caucusers where the previous precinct record was about half that. Enthusiasm, intelligent conversation … then high anticipation after the first alignment found Pete Buttigieg in first, followed by Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, with the Joe Biden and Andrew Yang groups not viable.

Everyone filled out their cards, first alignment counts were finalized, those in viable groups stayed put, and the Biden and Yang supporters found a new home. Uff da (as they say here in Scandinavian country) – Klobuchar jumped to the lead, followed by Buttigieg, Warren, and Sanders.

Went home with the kids, got out some chips and drinks, flip on MSNBC, and … OMG OMG, the sky is falling, says MSNBC! Apparently an app fell onto Rachel Maddow, bounced around her talking heads, and drove everyone wacky.

“The sky is falling” says Chicken Rachel Little and Henny Brian Penny! “The caucuses must be dead and buried!” says Goosey Chris Matthews Loosey. “They’re all corrupt!” says a Turkey talking-head Lurkey on Chris Hayes’ panel.

Yes, as an Iowa Democrat I’m somewhat embarrassed at the Iowa Democratic Party’s mismanagement of the caucus process, especially reporting technology. Their credibility is hurt.

I’m much more embarrassed – and frustrated – at the sky-is-falling MSNBC talking heads. Their credibility has dropped even lower for many of us, with all the hysteria over a few hours delay in reporting. Aren’t there real threats to democracy they could be talking about?

Sure, I’d like to see the results, and I well understand the importance of timing on the impact of those results for various candidates, and the race going forward.

But have you forgotten, Rachel-Brian-Chris-Chris, that the Russians are coming? Scratch that – according to Bob Mueller, they’re already here, at our president’s invitation. They invaded our democratic processes big time in 2016, and that was just a trial run for 2020. You could be filling the empty time with serious discussion of those threats.

But the sky is falling over a few extra hours – or even a day – spent ensuring the counts are correct in the Iowa caucuses, really?? Guess what – we have paper “ballots.” We have precinct chairs and secretaries and campaign staff verifying every set of data at every precinct. We have (obviously) a challenge in getting the full data compiled at the state level, but it will be compiled, and it will be accurately reported, and the Russians will not corrupt it.

Frankly, I’m still proud as hell to be an Iowa Democrat.

Sure, we could debate the caucus-versus primary approach (yes, I agree with my polysci-major daughter, there is some disenfranchisement … though there is some empowerment too, actually). And we could debate Iowa’s first-in-the-nation position (I’m a bit less sympathetic to the naysayers there, though do think it could make sense to have 3 or 4 states go first together, rather than one at a time. No single state will be “representative”, and the more you do away with retail politics, the more you hand the primary process over to the billionaires).

But to the MSNBC-the-sky(app)-is-falling-OMG team, and the rest of hysterical media, please get a grip. There are real dangers out there, very real threats to our democracy. A delay in reporting results is not one of them.

Andy Johnson works in the locally-owned clean energy transition, and farms with his wife and three daughters in rural Winneshiek County, northeast Iowa.

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  • The damage done

    In a sense, it doesn’t really matter who winds up winning the caucuses. The damage has already been done.