Accuracy in Media

CNN’s New Day misleadingly suggested that founding father James Madison was diametrically opposed to the Electoral College, but the network left out key facts about the truth on Madison’s views.

“You won’t believe who really hated the Electoral College probably even more than Elizabeth Warren,” said CNN anchor Erica Hill. “Here’s a hint: it’s a man who wore a wig and helped write the constitution.”

“Radical left-wing fantasy?” “Or as American as apple pie?”

“The Electoral College has been debated since the days of James Madison, who called it ‘evil.,’” CNN tweeted from its official account. “So could it actually be abolished? @JohnAvlon explores that in today’s #RealityCheck.”

David Martosko, political editor for the Daily Mail, responded on Twitter to the CNN claim about Madison.

“Huh? Madison basically created the Electoral College,” Martosko tweeted. “What he called ‘evil’ was Thomas Jefferson’s habit of using slave populations as a way to “weight” electoral vote allocations, and his trading favors for ‘winner-take-all’ results that benefited him.”

Jarrett Stepman, a Daily Signal contributor at the Heritage Foundation, offered more context about the Madison quote.

“This is #fakenews from @CNN, and an absurd distortion of a Madison quote,” Stepman tweeted. “He didn’t call the EC “evil,” he was talking about elections thrown to the House which awards 2 votes to states of every size. (This is the contingency for when a vote ISN’T decided by the EC).

Alex Griswold, a Free Beacon reporter, dug up additional source material for the Madison quote.

“Madison wasn’t referring to the *Electoral College* as ‘evil,’ he was calling the eventual certification by the House ‘evil,’ and he was using the word in the old-timey definition of harm or risk,” he tweeted.

In a subsequent tweet, Griswold linked to the National Archives document with the original Madison quote.

“In the same letter he endorses an amendment to maintain the electoral college, but by *district* rather than state. Pretty far-flung from ‘evil.’

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