Tainted Harris v. Independent Judge; Homeless Votes Bought; Non-Voters Back Gore; Dan Rather's Unmet Promise
-- Extra Edition
1) ABC and CBS focused on the
partisan GOP political activities of Florida Secretary of State Katherine
Harris, but neither uttered a word about how the federal judge who turned down
the request to halt the hand-counts donated to the Clinton-Gore campaign. NBC
detailed the judge's politics, but promised that he's "really known
as an independent-minded thinker."
2) Tom Brokaw denounced a Democratic operative as
"nasty,' but avoided telling viewers his name in relaying how a Gore
staffer claimed Katherine Harris was "acting in the finest tradition of a
3) ABC gave some extended broadcast network air time to the
charges that Gore-Lieberman operatives got homeless men in Milwaukee to vote
by promising them cigarettes. ABC's Brian Ross tracked down in New York City
the wealthy Democrat who financed the operation.
4) ABC, CBS and NBC post-election day polls found people are
not overly worried and want both candidates to stay out of the court. CBS
learned those who didn't vote would have overwhelming gone for Gore if they
5) Dan Rather signed-off Monday by rhyming and then promising
"CBS's traditional, fact-driven, play no favorites, pull-no- punches
Now online, a new Media Reality Check in which Rich Noyes gathered onto
one page five quotes from pundits uttered over the weekend. It's titled,
"Media Talking Heads' Pro-Gore Weekend Line; Liberal Pundits: Gore
Won Florida; Republicans Who Complain Are Hypocrites; Karl Rove Is a
Liar." To see it online as fax recipients got it, go to the Adobe
Acrobat PDF file:
getting a party label whether they deserve it or not," Peter Jennings
promised during an ABC News special Monday night in reference to players
in the Florida political and judicial process. His assurance came after
ABC failed to identify the Democratic ties of federal Judge Donald
Middlebrooks, who turned down the GOP request to halt hand-counts, and
just as Jennings was leading into a look at the Bush connections of
Secretary of State Katherine Harris who affirmed 5pm Tuesday as the
deadline for counties to file their results.
ABC's Linda Douglass described Harris as
"politically ambitious" and concluded that "Democrats say
if she does stop the vote count tomorrow, the country will always wonder
about her motives." CBS didn't saying anything about the federal
judge's donations to the Clinton-Gore campaigns, but Byron Pitts called
Harris "a GOP loyalist" who "was a delegate for Bush at
this year's Republican National Convention."
NBC spent the most time on Gore team complaints
about Harris, although Dan Abrams uniquely noted that Judge Middlebrooks
was appointed by President Clinton and "donated $1,500 to the
Clinton-Gore campaign in '92 and '96." But unlike with Harris,
NBC explained away any significance of Middlebrooks' politics as Abrams
insisted those who know him said "they thought he would decide this
case on the law, not on politics" since he is "really known as
an independent-minded thinker."
-- ABC. On World News Tonight Erin Hayes avoided
describing Harris's political motivations but did describe her order as
"terse." Hayes reported: "The re-count of those votes, a
bumpy, shifting process all weekend was pushed into overdrive today in two
counties: Volusia and Broward which scrambled to finish after Florida's
Secretary of State issued her terse, printed statement. Florida statute,
she said, leaves no exceptions. The deadline for the re-count votes: 5pm
tomorrow. Re-count votes that miss the deadline would not be counted.
Democrats insisted the Secretary has the discretion to extend the deadline
in circumstances like natural disasters. This, they say, warrants an
Later in the evening, ABC aired a special before
Monday Night Football in the East and afterwards in the West, anchored by
Peter Jennings and titled, A Nation Waits. Jennings delivered an overview
of the developments during the day and then interviewed ABC News legal
analyst Jeffrey Toobin about federal Judge Donald Middlebrooks deciding to
reject the Bush team's request to have the hand-counts stopped, but
neither segment included any mention of Middlebrooks's political
Immediately after talking with Toobin, Jennings
cautioned: "One admonition. If you listen to the political debate and
the legal debate today you'll know that everybody is getting a label,
everybody's getting a party label whether they deserve it or not. Now
the woman at the center of this particular issue is Katherine Harris. She
is Florida's Secretary of State and her decision, she says based in law,
that the re-count must end at 5 o'clock tomorrow, is of course, a major
threat to the Gore strategy. And all day there have been questions from
Gore partisans about her motives."
Linda Douglass began her taped report with a clip of
Warren Christopher accusing Harris of partisan politics. Douglass filled
in viewers: "Katherine Harris is a Republican, elected to statewide
office two years ago and described by reporters who cover the state house
as politically ambitious. She co-chaired Governor Bush's Florida
campaign and flew to New Hampshire during the Florida primary to help
him....During the campaign Harris was criticized by non-partisan public
interest groups when she ran a state-sponsored ad campaign to encourage
voting, featuring a Bush spokesman, General Norman Schwarzkopf."
Douglass noted that though Democrats claim she's
an ally of Jeb Bush he had backed another candidate in her primary and
that her aides say she's just following the law. Douglass concluded:
"Harris's aides insist she is calm and comfortable with her
decision, but Democrats say if she does stop the vote count tomorrow, the
country will always wonder about her motives."
-- CBS Evening News. Instead of portraying the
Harris memo as simply affirming what state law says, Dan Rather applied
some Gore team spin as he described how she "refuses to extend"
the deadline: "The Bush campaign backs Florida's Secretary of
State, Katherine Harris, who refuses to extend tomorrow's 5pm deadline
for all counties to report and have certified their official results. The
Gore campaign called this quote 'arbitrary and unreasonable'..."
From Tallahassee, Byron Pitts relayed the Gore
team's attack on Harris: "In his harshest criticism to date, former
Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Gore's lean man in Florida, took
dead aim at Florida's Secretary of State Katherine Harris."
"Her plan I'm afraid has the look of an effort to produce a
particular result in the election rather than to ensure that the voice of
all the citizens of the state would be heard."
a GOP loyalist, was a delegate for Bush at this year's Republican
National Convention. In a written statement she made it clear she will not
accept or certify any statewide ballots after 5pm tomorrow. 'There are
no exceptions,' she said, 'provided in the law.'"
-- NBC Nightly News. David Bloom offered the longest
explanation of the law of the night on one of the broadcast networks, but
began with Christopher's complaint, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad
Wilmouth: "Gore advisor Warren Christopher accusing Florida's
Republican Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, of just trying to ensure
a Bush victory."
"Her plan, I'm afraid, has the look of an effort to produce a
particular result in the election rather than to ensure that the voice of
all the citizens of the state would be heard."
Bloom quoted the law
before relaying Democratic claims about her partisanship: "But in a
written statement today Harris, Florida's top election official, says
state law is unambiguous. She cites Section 102.111 of the Florida
statute, which reads quote, 'If the county returns are not received by
the Department by 5 p.m. on the seventh day following an election, all
missing counties shall be ignored, and the results on file shall be
certified.' As things now stand, that means Governor Bush would likely
win a slim several hundred vote victory in Florida and win the presidency,
which is why Democrats are so irate, accusing Harris of playing partisan
politics, putting out that when Jeb Bush, Florida's Governor, campaigned
for his brother in New Hampshire, it was Katherine Harris at his side,
that Harris was the co-chair of George W. Bush's Florida campaign and a
delegate to the Republican national convention."
Congressman Robert Wexler: "If you rush to judgement and you call the
election before the votes are counted, we will not have a legitimate
election law experts disagree about whether Harris had to impose
tomorrow's deadline or whether she's merely doing the Republicans'
Trevor Potter, 2000
McCain Campaign: "I don't think the Secretary had a choice. The
Florida statute is clear. She has to start from that premise."
Prof. Jamin Raskin,
Constitutional Law Expert/'92 Clinton Gore campaign: "I think that
they are seeing the decisions they have to make through a partisan
Later in the newscast, Dan Abrams told Brokaw about
the partisan ties of the federal judge who turned down the GOP request to
have him halt the hand-counts: "Well, Tom, Judge Donald Middlebrooks
has been on the bench about three and a half years, appointed by President
Clinton, a long-time Democrat. In fact, he donated $1,500 to the
Clinton-Gore campaign in '92 and '96. He'd worked for a Democratic
Governor in the '70s, his father-in-law a Democratic Congressman. But I
spoke with a lot of people, both Democrats and Republicans, who know him
and all of them said that they thought he would decide this case on the
law, not on politics, really known as an independent-minded thinker."
That may well be true, but couldn't it also be
true with Harris?
On FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, reporter
William LaJeunesse offered a slightly different donation amount:
"Bush supporters are quick to note that this judge was appointed by a
Democratic President, he served under a Democratic Governor and he gave
$1,250 to the Clinton-Gore campaign."
unprecedented close election produced another unprecedented event Monday
night: A network anchor denounced a Democratic operative as
"nasty," though he avoided telling viewers the name of he
offender. Tom Brokaw noted on the NBC Nightly News: "And this example
tonight of just how nasty things are in Florida. The Gore campaign's
press secretary used a bit of Cold War imagery to describe Florida's
Secretary of State, saying her imposition of the 5pm deadline tomorrow was
quote, 'acting in the finest tradition of a Soviet commissar.'
Needless to say, that was not well received in Texas."
Neither ABC's World News Tonight or the CBS
Evening News mentioned the shot, but during his prime time special Peter
Jennings asked Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford about it.
Jennings did not characterize the comment, but did identify the
perpetrator as Chris Lehane.
finally gave some extended broadcast network air time Monday night to the
charges that Gore-Lieberman operatives got homeless men in Milwaukee to
vote by promising them cigarettes. ABC reporter Brian Ross picked up on
the week-old WISN-TV story, but then advanced it by tracking down in New
York City the wealthy Democrat who financed the operation. She insisted to
Ross: "I am an ordinary Park Avenue matron."
(Last week both ABC and NBC offered brief mentions
of the Milwaukee vote buying charge.)
World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings reviewed
the close vote tallies in states other than Florida, including the Gore
win by just 6,122 votes in Wisconsin where charges of irregularities have
been made. Ross began his piece by reporting how Marquette University
students boasted that they voted twice or even four times. The campus
paper, he related, found 141 students who voted more than once and
didn't think the felony was that big of a deal.
Ross moved on to the homeless maneuver: "Also
under investigation, allegations that the Gore campaign used cigarettes to
get residents of homeless shelters to vote."
District Attorney: "That's a criminal act if it's proven. It's
Ross: "The ABC
affiliate in Milwaukee caught Gore campaign workers handing out cigarettes
to homeless residents after they had been brought to a polling place to
"I'm here representing the Gore-Lieberman campaign. I'm chairman
of the Major Supporters Committee."
Milstein, a major Gore supporter and the wife of a New York
multimillionaire, told the station she had been asked by the Gore campaign
to come to Milwaukee."
"Wisconsin is a very key state for the Democratic Party."
district attorney says there is evidence that the Democratic group went to
at least three homeless shelters where residents said cigarettes were used
to get them to vote. Willie Jackson voted for the first time."
something, but you'd need an ebonics translation to know what.
Ross caught Milstein
in Manhattan: "Today outside her Park Avenue home in New York, Mrs.
Milstein said she had done nothing wrong."
"Brian, let me just say one thing. I am an ordinary Park Avenue
Ross: "Why were
you in Milwaukee?"
was there as an ordinary campaign worker."
"Mrs. Milstein would not say who sent her to Milwaukee, and the
Democratic Party maintains she went to the homeless shelters on her
CBS and NBC on Monday night all offered the results of their first
post-election day polls which basically found people are not overly
worried and want both candidates to stay out of the courts. CBS
learned those who didn't vote would have overwhelming gone for Gore
if they had voted.
-- ABC outlined on World News Tonight the
results of its ABC News/Washington Post poll. Only 19 percent are
"very worried" about the situation, 52 percent are "not
worried." To the vague question of whether the candidates should
"accept the re-count," or go to court, 76 percent said
accept, only 28 percent thought going to court was a good idea.
During ABC's prime time special, Peter
Jennings reported the poll found the electorate still split at 45
percent for Bush, 44 percent fore Gore.
-- CBS. On the CBS Evening News Dan Rather ran
through how a CBS News/New York
Times poll found 62 percent said "uncertainty" is not a
"big problem" while 35 percent think it is a problem. Of
those who did not vote, 55 percent regret not doing so and of those,
53 percent would have voted for Gore, 33 percent for Bush.
-- NBC waited until the end of Dateline to relay
numbers from a special Dateline poll. It determined 52 percent
approved of Gore's call for a hand re-count while 45 percent
disapproved. On Bush's court action to stop the hand-count, 62
percent disapproved, 34 percent approved. How long are they willing to
wait for a final result: 37 percent until Friday, 14 percent until the
Electoral College meets, 5 percent until Inauguration Day and 39
percent "as long as it takes."
And, "if Gore
wins Florida, should Bush challenge in other states?" Yes: 43
percent, no 49 percent.
Dan Rather signed-off Monday's CBS Evening News: "Around and
around it goes, where it stops nobody knows. Part of our world
tonight. When news breaks out, we'll break in with CBS's
traditional, fact-driven, play no favorites, pull no punches
Now that would be a first. -- Brent Baker
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