Philip Bump Doesn’t Want You Worrying Your Pretty Little Head About Hacking

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So much so that he’s willing to play you for a fool with cherry-picked quotes and goal post shifting.

In contrast to its willingness to entertain pretty much every absurd conspiracy theory in unseemly pursuit of the almighty clicks relating to the HITLERYEMAILZOMG!!! “story” during the campaign, the Washington Post has two new purposes that lead it to play the role of gatekeeper now that the election is over: creating the illusion of normalcy with respect to the vulgar talking yam, and disparaging any possibility that the election might be tainted in any way.

Major media did the same thing in 2000 after the fiasco of the Bush/Gore election and legal aftermath, going so far as to ignore major protests and to use bizarrely narrow camera angles to pretend that what was happening really wasn’t. It was a terrible capstone to a five year period of despicable and mendacious behavior by both print and TV journalists.

Well, today, here we go again. As you know from my post last night, the story is out that a group of activists and experts are urging Hillary Clinton to contest election tabulations in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania because of concerns regarding potential hacking. No significant details of the basis for these concerns has come out, but no matter: Philip Bump is on the case and he wants to shut this story down right the fuck now.

Upon what does Bump base this conclusion? Not much.

One of the people who was on the call with the Clinton folks is University of Michigan professor Alex Haberman, a noted expert in voting security issues. When people saw his name on this, the general reaction was “OK this is serious.”

Bump acknowledges as much in his piece. Here’s what he said.

Reached by email, Halderman pointed us to a statement he’d written at Medium. It’s a lengthy examination of how vote-tallying systems have been rigged or manipulated in the past, but the most important line (for our purposes) is this one:

Were this year’s deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack? Probably not. I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked.

Sounds pretty conclusive, right? Sure it does. All is well, our systems work, go back to sleep now.

Ummmmmm. Hold on. There’s another sentence in Haberman’s piece. In fact, it’s the very next one after the above quote. In fact, quoting one but leaving out the other is as dishonest and misleading as you can get. Here’s the whole thing, with the part Bump left out in bold.

Were this year’s deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack? Probably not. I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked. But I don’t believe that either one of these seemingly unlikely explanations is overwhelmingly more likely than the other. The only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result is to closely examine the available physical evidence – paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, nobody is ever going to examine that evidence unless candidates in those states act now, in the next several days, to petition for recounts.

Haberman himself puts the new language in bold and highlights it himself. “Hi, this is pretty important.” Bump dumps it in the trash to try to convince you the whole thing is nonsense.

You can read the whole Medium piece here.

But now that you’ve seen the whole quote, it’s not quite so simple as Philip Bump would like you to believe, is it? In fact, it’s the opposite. Haberman says that there’s two unlikely possibilities and the only way to sort it out is to do a recount. Bump claims, via a cherry picked, out of context sentence, that there’s nothing to see here.

Look, I said it yesterday, there’s a long way from statistical patterns to proof of a stolen election. Legally, it’s highly unlikely that evidence will be developed to make a case sufficient to change the outcome.
But that doesn’t explain why there’s such a heavy handed effort to keep anyone from even investigating the data security. What are people afraid of? I say they’re afraid we might find out our election data is no more secure from hacking than our credit card data. I also say that’s something the American public deserves to know.

So when smut peddlers like the Post shift from clickbait to gatekeeping, like this crap from Bump, grab your wallet ’cause you’re being sold a line of bullshit here. When a guy like Philip Bump goes to such lengths to distort and misrepresent an effort simply to find out if there’s been hacking, you should recognize just how serious this problem is.

Finally, the name of Bump’s data analysis for the Post – The Fix – has never been so appropriate, but not for the originally intended reasons. Philip Bump and the Post don’t want you to think too much about election integrity, and they’re willing to go to great lengths to keep that story from you.

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