Some think the rush to report election results before the polls were closed on the West Coast on November 6 may have suppressed voter turnout in California, potentially costing Republicans control of the House.

John Nolte writes for Breitbart that Fox News reported nationally that the Democrats had flipped the House "a crucial 87 minutes" before the polls in Orange County were set to close. While Orange County has been trending blue in recent years, Nolte says there were some very close races yet to be decided, and Fox News may have discouraged voters from heading to the polls. The entire county went blue that night.

This is not the first time this has happened. It had become commonplace for the networks, in their rush to be the first with the news, to call national races while people on the West Coast were still voting, thus impacting the final result. They have been better about calling races until the polls have closed everywhere, but there are still problems.

There have been more recent issues with the press influencing voter turnout. Inaccurate polling, that some say is by design, is a way to suppress voter turnout. Of course, who can forget the AP on the eve of the Democrat primary in California in 2016 announcing that Hillary Clinton would trounce Bernie Sanders the following day? Droves of Sanders' supporters stayed home.

As the recent antics of CNN and its White House reporter Jim Acosta have shown, there is a need for the media to take a good, hard look at itself and how it reports the news. In recent years, we've seen a greater reliance on unconfirmed reports and unnamed sources as attributes for news stories that later prove to be false.

The government cannot and should not police the media, but the media can police itself. A free society depends upon a strong media, but that media must have the trust of the public. It no longer does. Credibility matters to the press and the people who rely upon it.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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