Didn’t Fly the First Time, Doesn’t Fly Now

What’s worse than your typical desperately speculative swing voter story? A recycled desperately speculative swing voter story.

With so many troubling election-year issues to explore, Agence France Presse today opts to bring readers a rehash of a story the Associated Press ran on August 3. AFP’s version bears the following unconvincing (and alarmingly violent-sounding) headline, “Reclusive Amish Could Be Thrown into Election Battle.”

To support its hyped-up premise that the Amish “could play a key role” in the election, AFP found an Amish family in Paradise, Pennsylvania which has decided to do what most Amish in the United States historically have not — vote. This, and the fact that President Bush met with 30 Amish in July are, apparently, the news hooks here.

“The Republicans like to think Bush can tap into the [Amish’s] conservative values,” AFP reports, pointing to a “one-time Amish who is now a Republican activist, [and] is trying to sign up his former community.”

But as with AP’s lame August story, AFP’s own reporting exposes the flimsiness of the story’s premise. The final word in the piece, in fact, belongs to one Norman Kauffman, Amish, who AFP notes “refuses to vote and says he leaves God to decide elections.”

Note to Norman: You seem to be a peaceful sort, but watch your back; there are apparently reporters everywhere so hungry for an angle — any angle — that they’re ready to “throw” even you into the battle.


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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.