Augusta, Ga (WJBF)

Today’s headlines can be overwhelming. So much information is coming at you so fast. On this edition of The Means Report, we talk to Augusta University Political Scientist Dr. Mary-Kate Lizotte. Watch both segments and get Dr. Lizotte’s perspective on what’s happening in our world. Thank you for watching The Means Report Monday afternoons at 12:30 on NewsChannel 6.

We have so many issues to talk about as “The Means Report” continues with Dr. Mary-Kate Lizotte including this situation involving gas stoves. Is the White House trying to take our stoves away from us? We’ll talk about that a lot more with Dr. Lizotte when “The Means Report” continues. Welcome back to “The Means Report.” We appreciate you staying with us as we continue to talk about politics and other big issues that are going on in our nation. Dr. Mary-Kate Lizotte, political scientist, professor at Augusta University is adding some much-needed perspective to all of this. Let’s kind of stay on the election and voting topic that we were on when we left to go to the break, Dr. Lizotte, and my question is election security. Do you think that our vote counts? Do you think that elections are secure after what we just went through last year? Does it feel like the ship has been righted and that Americans are okay with it?

Elections are definitely secure. They have been.


In 2020 there was no sort of security issue with elections. That’s been proven time and time again. I think the only issue that we’ve had with election tampering has been foreign countries trying to influence voters through social media so I don’t think that Americans should worry about this. However, there’s a lot of misinformation about it that’s out there saying that it’s not secure, saying that people’s votes aren’t being counted, and that misinformation is coming from people in the news media. It’s coming from candidates, it’s coming from politicians, and that’s very problematic because it’s convincing people that there is a problem when one does not exist.

What do you think about the economy these days? And if you think that it could be better, who can fix it? Can a president make things right, economically-speaking, with a couple of decisions? Kind of walk us through that because it feels like times are still tight.

So the President can’t do that much by himself. He really needs Congress to help him get anything passed that’s going to have a really big impact. And then of course the Federal Reserve has a lot of control over the economy in terms of interest rates, and so they’ve been increasing interest rates, as everyone is aware of, I’m sure. Which, you know, has helped with inflation. Inflation’s definitely getting better, but it’s making things expensive. It’s making it difficult to buy a new house or a car or you know, get a business loan. And so that’s going to hurt the economy, probably, in a few months, but right now the economy’s doing pretty well, but ultimately Biden doesn’t have that much that he can do via executive order.


To make the economy go one way or the other, honestly.

All right, help me out with this gas stoves thing because if you believe everything you read, the government, and it started at the White House with folks there want to take our gas stoves because they’re concerned about emissions and the dangers there. Is this a thing?

It’s not a thing.

Okay, good.

So, the White House actually is supporting a tax break if you install a gas stove because they’re more efficient and so it’s the exact opposite. I mean, there’s a lot of research that shows that if your gas stove is unvented, so if it’s like, say, in an island countertop and unvented, then it is not great to have those emissions ’cause they’re not going anywhere, they’re not being vented, but there are no plans to get rid of them. There are, however, in some states, plans to stop installing them, but they’re not gonna go to people’s houses and take them out.

Okay, right, they’re not gonna come shut us down, make you buy an electric range. I meant to talk about this in the first segment, but the first segment was busy, and it’s because it’s such a big issue in our news these days. It’s the situation in Memphis with the police video allegedly showing the beating of a suspect. Let me just ask you a general question about the Tyre Nichols situation. Is this something that sparks more discussions about police brutality? And not only that, but might those discussions yield change if you think that change is necessary, that change could be coming? What happens? What do we learn from this?

Well, I think that it’s unfortunate that we only talk about this issue when there is allegations of police brutality instead of having a focus on this issue over time that’s sustained. I think that, you know, there are going to be continued talks about what to do. There’s gonna be talks, you know, in Memphis about what to do with that unit and whether or not it should be disbanded. You know, I’m not a criminal justice professor, but my understanding is that we need to fund more community policing, meaning policing that works with community members to build trust so that they can best protect the community. And also to continue to fund and increase funding for things like mental health and social workers so that they can help with a mental health crisis so that the police don’t have to get involved, things of that nature. I think that ultimately, you know, liberals were sort of pushing for this defund the police, and people don’t want that. You know, they want to be protected from violent crime and so they want police to be there to protect them from violent crime, but at the same time they don’t want to die at the hands of the police for, you know, unnecessary, brutal actions. And so there’s a middle ground there, for sure. And my understanding is that community policing is sort of the most proven in terms of research for making that middle ground happen.

Let’s talk about TikTok. Some people think that it should be banned and that we should have that app removed from our devices. College campuses are banning TikTok. Is TikTok a threat? And if so, why? What is happening other than us just looking at things on the app?

So the company that owns TikTok in China is very close to the Chinese government, which the US government considers a hostile government. And so the fact that they’re very close to the Chinese government makes Americans and the American government very concerned about privacy issues. So TikTok is apparently, and again, I’m not an IT person, but is apparently not great about maintaining people’s privacy. And so there are concerns that it is able to get access to other things on your phone and get a lot of information about the individual who’s using TikTok. And if it’s on a state or government-issued phone, that the Chinese government could ultimately get access to a lot of private information because they are so close to this company that owns the app.

That’s the first time I’ve ever understood what that whole deal was. So it’s not when you’re logging in and they say, “Oh, I’ve got your name. I’ve got whatever password you created to be a TikTok user.” It’s, they can take over your whole phone and look at stuff, potentially.

Right, so that’s the concern. I don’t know if there’s any proof that that’s happening, but you know, people give a lot of information in their TikToks and so even just if it’s through the app, people are giving a lot of private information and that information could be sold to the Chinese government.

Have you watched that Project Veritas video? So, and check me if I’m not getting this right, it appears that a person who allegedly worked for Pfizer was talking about his employer’s ability to mutate the COVID-19 virus so that they could potentially come up for more treatments for it and make more money. How much credence should we give to Project Veritas? Many people probably have not heard of that outlet. Any legitimacy to what we saw with that video?

My understanding is that it has been completely debunked over and over again.


So that is just not true. That’s not what Pfizer is doing. That person is not a legitimate source. It’s not a credible video and yeah, we shouldn’t be concerned about that at all.

Okay, good. Thank you for that. Do do we all need a social media cleanse? Have you ever taken a break from it? And if so, how did you feel after you did?

So, I have taken breaks at times just because, you know, things get scary sometimes.

Yeah, it’s too much.

Yeah. And you know, as a political scientist, I have a lot of political science friends, and they’re always posting about issues that are concerning and stressful. And so yeah, there are definitely times when I’m like, I have to limit my exposure to all of this information because I’m becoming a, you know, doomsday person. I think that it is helpful to kind of limit ourselves and not doomscroll for hours every single day. And I also think that it’s really important, and I do this a lot, is to, you know, look up these different things that you see. Is it truthful? You know, there was a TikTok that was going around about how the Iranian government was going to execute thousands and thousands of women who had been protesting. And when I looked it up, that was completely not true. And a friend of mine posted it, and I thought that they would have checked before they posted it, but they didn’t. And you know, that sort of thing-

Did you get in a fight with your friend over it?

I did not.

No, okay. You didn’t get into a Twitter war?

I’m not that kind of social media user at all.

Yeah. But you know, it’s true. You click on something and then Twitter thinks that you like that and they give you more of it. And then you do go into this kind of doomsday zone until you, as you so expertly advise, to take a break and do the research yourself to confirm or refute it. Real quick, the classified documents situation where they’re turning up at presidents’ and former presidents’ and vice-presidents’ homes going back, last time I checked, to Jimmy Carter. Probably goes back further than that. Is that something that should concern us or are these just, are these documents a threat to our national security maybe?

I don’t think that it should concern us. I think that it’s something that in the future we should prevent from happening. I think that the Trump case is different from some of these other cases just because of how many documents and the fact that he was asked to return them and he refused. The other individuals involved have, you know, been very open to having their materials searched, returning them on their own, not being, you know, forced to return them. And so there is a difference there, but it makes sense to me because they have to move out within the few hours that the inauguration happens.

They do it so fast

They do it so very fast and so, you know, they’re governing up until that point, up until the inauguration. You know, Jimmy Carter was negotiating the Iranian refugees coming home up until the inauguration.


So it’s happening so quickly that I’m honestly not super surprised that some things get packed away that shouldn’t have gotten packed away or, you know, a box gets sent to the wrong place. I do think that, you know, this is something that they should figure out a plan on how to prevent from happening in the future.

All right. Well, Dr. Lizotte, we’ll leave it at that. We’ll call you again very soon. Please don’t get mad and please don’t say no when we invite you back. We need you to help us understand what’s going on in our world and we thank you.

Thank you.