CNN resurrected the old-school hatchet-job template for nullification articles this week.
Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massie breathlessly reported Alabama Republican congressional candidate Roy Moore “signed onto a resolution in 2010 affirming the right of states to nullify, or void, federal law.”
We haven’t seen an anti-nullification story following this script in quite a while. But Kaczynski and Massie checked off all the boxes.
Inference that nullification supporters are a bunch of racists – check
John C. Calhoun reference – check
Marginalizing nullification supporters as “extremists” – check
Obligatory quote from an ignorant law professor – check (They doubled down with two!)
Secession reference – check
Civil War reference – check
Of course, Kaczynski and Massie leave out any discussion of Thomas Jefferson or James Madison. You know, the guys who first formalized the principles of nullification. No – it wasn’t Calhoun. (They do bring up Jefferson in reference to secession though.)
Our intrepid reporters claim nullification was “never upheld in federal court,” but fail to mention the anti-commandeering doctrine – the legal principle based on four major Supreme Court opinions dating back to 1842 that supports modern nullification efforts.
Kaczynski and Massie dutifully reminded us that segregationists appealed to nullification during the civil rights era, but conveniently forget to mention northern states successfully nullified the fugitive slave acts in the years leading up to the Civil War.
They report, “Some state legislatures have passed non-binding resolutions asserting their sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment,” but never get around to talking about recent nullification successes such as marijuana legalization and Right to Try laws. Even hard-core progressives have jumped on the nullification bandwagon with so-called sanctuary cities. That’s apparently not on Kaczynski and Massie’s radar.
Ah. Good times. It takes me all the way back to 2010.
In fact, 2010 appears to be when Kaczynski and Massie started and ended their research on this story. It really is quite a time capsule. This was typical of nullification stories back then – before it became widely acknowledged, even within the mainstream media, that states could indeed refuse to cooperate with the enforcement of federal laws and the implementation of federal programs. (See the above-mentioned anti-commandeering doctrine.)
The CNN story revolves around a “Tenth Amendment Summit,” an event the TAC helped organize in 2010. The report references the Tenth Amendment Center and links to our website. Funny though – Kaczynski and Massie never contacted us for the story. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they just couldn’t find our contact information. Except there’s Google. And the fact they linked our website IN THE STORY.
I went to journalism school. I learned you should make every effort to get input from anybody you name in the story. I learned you should do thorough research – like actually reading some of the content on the website you link – so you understand every side of an issue. I learned bias can slip through in what you leave out of a story as well as in what you put in. I learned putting these basic journalistic principles into practice helps keep you from writing stories that make you look like an ignorant boob.
That’s Journalism 101.
Maybe Kaczynski and Massie didn’t take that class. Or maybe they don’t actually care about journalism.