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CNN Tees Up John Lewis to Liken Voter ID Laws to Jim Crow

Civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) has said new voter ID laws reflect old Jim Crow laws, and CNN's Carol Costello played right into his outlandish rhetoric on Friday morning.

"Are you kind of stunned we're talking about these kinds of things in this day and age, with your history, I mean?" Costello asked the liberal congressman of the debate over voter ID laws. He answered in the affirmative and again likened voter ID laws to Jim Crow. 

"People are not being beaten, or trampled by horses or chased by police dogs, but it takes us back to another day and another period. And as Americans, we should not want to even dream about the past," he stated.

[Video below. Audio here.]

Costello had actually played devil's advocate with Lewis before her softball question, but she followed that one up with another soft question to Lewis: "Does your office get many calls from people who feel disenfranchised?"

"I would urge and encourage people all across America that they must participate, they must get out and vote, and let nothing but nothing keep them from casting their votes," he insisted.

The same congressman recklessly used an anti-Nazi statement to decry Republicans, but CNN still had no trouble teeing him up to compare the new laws to Jim Crow.

A partial transcript of the interview, which aired on CNN Newsroom on September 14 at 10:23 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

[10:23]

CAROL COSTELLO: The fight over voter ID laws is red hot in Pennsylvania, just 53 days before the Presidential election. The state's new law that requires voters to show a picture ID is now in Pennsylvania Supreme Court. At issue, whether this new requirement will keep minority and poor voters from the polls. It's a charge we've heard in Florida, Ohio, and Colorado, and something Congressman John Lewis has called a throwback to the Jim Crow south.

(...)

COSTELLO: What do you expect to happen in Pennsylvania?

(...)

COSTELLO: So I know we've been having this argument for many, many months now, but Republicans would say most of us have a picture ID, it's not hard to get one in the state of Pennsylvania. So what's the big deal?

(...)

COSTELLO: This election could come down to a few hundred votes in key areas as you know. In the key battleground state of Florida, election officials there purged 200 people it says should not be allowed to vote. If it found those people ineligible, isn't that be a good thing that they purged these people from the rolls?

(...)
                   
COSTELLO: Are you kind of stunned we're talking about these kinds of things in this day and age, with your history, I mean?

Rep. JOHN LEWIS (D-Ga.): Well, I'm really shocked. For me, it is unreal, it is unbelievable. It may not be the literacy tests, it may not be a poll tax, it may not be asking people to count the number of bubbles on a bar of soap, or the number of jelly beans in a jar. People are not being beaten, or trampled by horses or chased by police dogs, but it takes us back to another day and another period. And as Americans, we should not want to even dream about the past.

COSTELLO: Does your office get many calls from people who feel disenfranchised?

LEWIS: Well, there are people who have called, and other reports I have heard, that people are showing up trying to participate, trying to vote without a voter ID. I would urge and encourage people all across America that they must participate, they must get out and vote, and let nothing but nothing keep them from casting their votes.

-- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center