Right-Wing Media Spurred Racist Death Threats Against Election Workers
Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, testified today about the harassment and threats she received after she was targeted in a right-wing media-driven conspiracy theory about Democrats stealing the 2020 presidential election in the state. Moss spoke to the January 6 congressional committee today about the racist threats against her which followed the widespread coverage.
Moss said she wanted to work in election administration because her grandmother emphasized that voting was not always a right that Black people had in the United States. Due to the threats and harassment she received, she's been forced to leave her job.
Moss also detailed a break-in at her grandmother’s house in which people “knocked on her door” and “just started pushing their way through, claiming that they were coming in to make a citizen’s arrest.” The committee also played footage from the testimony that her mother and fellow election worker, Ruby Freeman, gave prior to the hearing, in which she described how her life had been turned upside down by right-wing conspiracy theories.
Moss and Freeman were targeted following the release of footage that the Trump campaign claimed provided evidence of voter fraud. The footage provoked a false conspiracy theory that the Georgia poll workers unloaded ballots from a concealed suitcase in order to sway the election results. The conspiracy theory has been repeatedly debunked. By the beginning of January, Freeman had evacuated her home after the FBI concluded she was no longer safe in the days preceding January 6.
Moss and Freeman have sued The Gateway Pundit and One America News Network for their coverage of the footage that spurred the false conspiracy theory. OAN was later dismissed from the suit. Fox News and other right-wing outlets repeatedly covered the footage of Moss and Freeman, though the network never explicitly named the two workers.
- On the December 3, 2020, edition of The Five, co-host Jesse Watters played the video and asked Fox News “straight news” host Martha MacCallum whether then-Attorney General Bill Barr would look into the footage.
- Fox host Tucker Carlson also aired the footage on his December 3, 2020, show and called it “pretty unbelievable” that the video showed “poll workers pulling ballots out of suitcases.”
- During Sean Hannity’s hour on the same night, the Fox host also aired the footage and singled out Moss by spot shadowing her and saying, “Look at her right there.” A Trump campaign representative, Jacki Pick, repeatedly referred to Moss as “the lady with the blonde braids.”
- On the December 7, 2020, edition of his show, Hannity again played the footage and claimed Moss and other election workers pulled out suitcases “apparently filled with thousands and thousands of ballots, which were then counted by the workers that were allowed to remain in the room that pulled them out of the suitcases they conveniently had there, without partisan observers, without the media.”
- Right-wing news site The Federalist also published an article on December 7, 2020, attempting to refute verified debunkings of the conspiracy theory. It claimed “Big Tech” did not even come “close” to debunking the election fraud theories.
- At the end of December 2020, Fox began airing advertisements paid for by the Trump campaign that included the footage and repeated the debunked claims that the containers shown in the video were filled with somehow fraudulent Democratic ballots.
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.