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CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
| Thursday November 16, 2000 (Vol. Five; No. 246) |

ABC Didn't Note Gore Violation; How Many Democrats on Florida's Supreme Court?; Geraldo Rejoiced that Gore Headed to Victory

1) After Bush's 10:15pm ET address, ABC's George Stephanopoulos quoted the Gore team's Mark Fabiani: "Mrs. Harris's attempt to steal this election for George Bush will not stand." Not the tone promised earlier by Al Gore who said he told his campaign "to refrain from using inflammatory language."

2) Reuters: Harris is "a cultured citrus heiress with a staunch Republican pedigree." CBS: "She was a child of privilege, born to one of the wealthiest families in Florida." NBC's David Bloom assigned her a new name as he used this phrase three time in just one story: "Florida's Republican Secretary of State."

3) Florida's Supreme Court. All seven justices were appointed by Democrats, ABC reported. CBS described them as "six Democrats and one Republican." NBC said six were named by Democrats and one jointly picked by a Democrat and a Republican.

4) ABC picked up on charges that Democratic Palm Beach County canvass board leader Carol Roberts had been manipulating ballot cards to get more chads to separate.

5) A plurality believe George Bush won in Florida but most agree with Al Gore's request for a hand count, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll highlighted by Tom Brokaw found.

6) By adjusting the Buchanan tally into a percentage of votes cast, the New York Post discovered he garnered 0.79 percent of the vote in Palm Beach County, lower than his vote percentage in seven other Florida counties.

7) Geraldo Rivera rejoiced Tuesday night: "Today's decision, I believe, sows the seeds of an eventual Al Gore election victory. You heard it here first folks. I like his chances and I like them big time."

8) "National and international media coverage has led to a mass mangling of some basic facts about our community," the Palm Beach Post complained in a memo to their media colleagues about confusing place names, pronunciations and jurisdictions.

9) Letterman's "Top Ten Dumb Guys Ways to Solve Presidential Election Confusion."


Democrats will do more to point out the ties between Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris and George Bush, ABC George Stephanopoulos suggested, though the media are already doing it for them. Stephanopoulos also relayed a fresh attack on her by a Gore operative, but didn't point out how its tone contradicted Gore's assurances of a more civil discourse.

    Following George Bush's live address from Austin at 10:15pm ET carried by all the networks, Stephanopoulos warned ABC viewers:
    "To show how hot this may get, the Gore campaign's Communications Director tonight said: 'Mrs. Harris's attempt to steal this election for George Bush will not stand.' What you'll probably see from Democrats starting tomorrow is more and more pointing out of the ties between Secretary Harris and Governor Bush."

    Stephanopoulos did not point out how the attack on Harris violated Al Gore's promise made during his 6:35pm ET address:
    "I would also like to urge all of those speaking for either of us to do their part to lift up this discourse, to refrain from using inflammatory language and to avoid statements that could make it harder for our country to come together once the counting is over. That is the direction I have given to my own campaign."

    Stephanopoulos was citing Mark Fabiani, whom Reuters quoted as saying: "The Secretary of State, a crony of the Bush brothers, is trying to steal this election away and no one is going to stand for such a naked political act."


The Democrats will have a willing audience for their message, as described by George Stephanopoulos about "the ties between Secretary Harris and Governor Bush." In fact, they've already been relaying the Democratic character attack line for days, as documented in the last several CyberAlerts, and were at it again Wednesday night.

    -- Reuters reporter Peter Millership began his November 15 story:
    "Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who dropped a bombshell on Wednesday by refusing to allow a manual recount in the state's disputed vote which is pivotal in choosing the next U.S. President, is a cultured citrus heiress with a staunch Republican pedigree.
    "Harris, 43, became a key figure in the high-stakes presidential drama when she refused to bow to Democratic pressure to let recounted votes come in later than Tuesday, a move which was challenged by Democrats...."

    -- CBS Evening News. Bill Whitaker highlighted how "she was a child of privilege" as he outlined her connection to Bush:
    "Secretary of State Katherine Harris, now a GOP star in waiting. Today she received more flowers from across the country, praising her efforts to end the recount and proclaim George W. Bush the winner. A Bush delegate at the Republican National Convention, she was a child of privilege, born to one of the wealthiest families in Florida. Tonight the presidency of the United States may not just come down to one state or one county, but one woman and how she handles the ballot recount in Florida."

    -- NBC Nightly News. In the space of just one story, NBC's David Bloom managed to call her "Florida's Republican Secretary of State" three times.

    First time: "What set this all in motion, the Gore offer, was the decision by the Florida state Supreme Court late today to reject unanimously, a request from Florida's Republican Secretary of State, who wanted to try to stop those hand recounts from proceedings."

    Second time: "Today, Gore's chief lawyer accused Florida's Republican Secretary of State, of trying to stall the recounts to lock in a Bush victory."
    David Boies: "We think it would be very unreasonable to ask people to stop those recounts because the game here may be, I hope not, but the game may be to delay those recounts as long as possible and then bring down the curtain."

    Third time: "Tom, here's the bottom line. Despite Vice President Gore's latest proposal and the flurry of legal activity today, there's nothing that's happened that would prevent Florida's Republican Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, from certifying these elections on Saturday after the overseas absentee ballots are counted up."


Were the seven justices on the Florida Supreme Court all nominated by Democrats or are they "six Democrats and one Republican" or were six named by Democrats and one jointly picked by a Democrat and a Republican? Depends if you believe ABC, CBS or NBC which each offered a different description Wednesday night, November 15, of the court.

    -- ABC's World News Tonight. Erin Hayes: "The Florida Supreme Court, which is by the way, comprised of seven justices, all appointed by Democrats, gave Secretary Harris nothing that she requested. And especially disappointing to Republicans: No halt to the manual recount...."

    -- CBS Evening News. Byron Pitts: "Today the circus that took over Tallahassee moved from Florida's state house to the state Supreme Court, all satellite trucks and lawyers with their lawsuits and legal briefs aimed at this two story building and seven justices inside, six Democrats and one Republican...."

    -- NBC Nightly News. Pete Williams: "Preferring so far to stay removed from the legal storm swirling around them, the court's seven justices, all political appointees serving six year terms renewable by the voters. Six of the seven justices put on the bench by Florida's last two Democratic Governors. The seventh, Peggy Quince, jointly appointed by outgoing Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles and Republican Governor-elect Jeb Bush. But a former court justice and a Republican appointee himself, says when it comes to making decisions his former colleagues leave their politics behind...."


ABC, but not CBS or NBC, on Wednesday night gave some air time to Republican complaints about voting manipulation by Palm Beach County canvassing board chief Carol Roberts. FNC's Carl Cameron also explored the charges on Special Report with Brit Hume.

    On World News Tonight, ABC's Jackie Judd announced: "Republicans zeroed in on Carol Roberts, the canvass commissioner and prominent local Democrat, who has been pushing hard for a manual recount. A Republican lawyer came armed with a list of grievances."
    James Carroll at the canvass board meeting held outside: "She has been observed bending, twisting, poking and purposely manipulating ballots in a manner that compromised their integrity."
    Judd: "Carroll demanded Roberts be disqualified. That was quickly shot down."


A plurality believe George Bush won in Florida but most agree with Al Gore's request for a hand count. At the end of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw passed along two findings from an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll:

    "Who should be declared the winner in Florida?" Bush replied 41 percent, Gore said 23 percent while 31 percent thought it's "too soon too say."

    On Gore's hand count request, 59 percent considered it "acceptable" and 40 percent called it "unacceptable."


Was Pat Buchanan's vote total of 3,407 in Palm Beach County really so out of line? The New York Post "MediaWatch" column on Wednesday showed how the mainstream media portrayed it as unusually high by using raw numbers not adjusted for the high population of the county compared to other Florida counties. By adjusting the Buchanan tally into a percentage of votes cast, the New York Post discovered he garnered 0.79 percent of the vote in Palm Beach County, lower than his vote percentage in seven other Florida counties.

    The chart produced in the November 15 New York Post showed how Buchanan captured more voters percentage-wise in these counties than in Palm Beach County:
Baker: .90
Calhoun: 1.75
Gulf 1.16
Holmes 1.04
Liberty 1.63
Suwanee: .87
Washington: 1.10


Geraldo Rivera celebrated the Tuesday circuit court decision to allow Secretary of State Katherine Harris to keep her 5pm Tuesday deadline but which told her to consider accepting hand count numbers submitted later. On Tuesday's Rivera Live on CNBC, he rejoiced: "Today's decision, I believe, sows the seeds of an eventual Al Gore election victory. You heard it here first folks. I like his chances and I like them big time."

    MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took note of Rivera's celebratory tone in remarks made the night before Harris on Wednesday night rejected the reasons offered by the counties for late submission of hand count numbers.

    Rivera opened his November 14 CNBC show: "An explosive day in the election that never ends. The day is ending with a harsh spotlight on the Florida Secretary of State. It began with Bush surrogate James Baker offering a blatantly lopsided, 'We win, you lose deal,' that was quickly and correctly rejected by the Gore camp. That was followed by a state judge's decision that was so brilliantly balanced that it was hailed as a victory by both sides. Judge Terry Lewis upheld today's 5pm deadline for filing results of recounts in several Florida counties.
    "But the decision then made it crystal clear that Florida's embattled Secretary Katherine Harris must exercise appropriate discretion in deciding whether to accept later returns from manual recounts that will be submitted in the coming days. Implicit in the court's language, I think, an unmistakable message to Secretary Harris who as you know is also a high ranking Bush campaign official. Any decision she makes concerning the still uncounted ballots coming from several heavily Democratic counties must be reasonable. She cannot, for example, arbitrarily decide against counting them. If she does she risks the high probability of being overruled by the courts.
    "And because of the pro-Gore trend in the ballots already counted by hand in the counties in question and the likelihood that trend will continue, absent a gigantic pro-Bush flood of overseas ballots or some maneuver that gives Governor Bush some other unexpected bonanza, today's decision, I believe, sows the seeds of an eventual Al Gore election victory. You heard it here first folks. I like his chances and I like them big time. And I'm not the only one. Why do you think Bush spokesman Karen Hughes was so ticked off tonight?"


The Palm Beach Post staff was so upset with constant errors by network reporters about their community that on tuesday the paper published a memo to their colleagues to correct them on geography, jurisdiction, place names and pronunciation, Jim Romenesko's MediaNews noted: http://www.poynter.org/medianews

    Here's an excerpt from the November 14 Palm Beach Post piece written by Larry Aydlette:

MEMO TO: TV talking heads, national reporters, foreign press, late-night talk show writers, etc.

RE: Geography and pronunciations.

To our fellow colleagues in the media, and with all due respect and professional courtesy, PALM BEACH IS NOT WEST PALM BEACH!

And Palm Beach is not Palm Beach County. And South Palm Beach is not Palm Beach. And don't even get us started on North Palm Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Palm Springs and Palm Beach Gardens, not to mention Riviera Beach, Boynton Beach and Delray Beach. As you can see, there are a lot of palms and beaches down here.

National and international media coverage has led to a mass mangling of some basic facts about our community. And with 1 million people in Palm Beach County living in 37 individual municipalities and unincorporated sections spread over a 2,386-square-mile area that is larger than the state of Delaware, things can get more confusing than a pregnant chad on a butterfly ballot.

Plus, TV people always screw things up.

Listen, we don't need the extra heartburn. So, media mob, clip and save this handy guide of fast facts:

LESSON NO. 1: County, County, County! When in doubt, always refer to Palm Beach County (pop. 1.042 million, per capita income $38,772.) Such as: The protests are going on in Palm Beach County. Or: The confusing ballot was issued by Palm Beach County. All of the municipalities -- West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Boca Raton -- are part of Palm Beach County. Which leads to...

LESSON NO. 2: Palm Beach is not Palm Beach County. The talking heads keep yakking about the "Palm Beach ballots." Cut it out! Palm Beach (population 9,710, per capita income $71,106) is the ritzy, affluent island town that is part of central Palm Beach County (not that Palm Beachers consider themselves part of anything). Granted, Palm Beach is what everybody thinks of when they think of Palm Beach County, but it's not, which really irks the folks in West Palm Beach, which leads to...

LESSON NO. 3: West Palm Beach is not Palm Beach. West Palm Beach is not Palm Beach County. TV analyst Jeff Greenfield was gently chided by West Palm Beach Mayor Joel Daves on CNN Friday night for saying he was in Palm Beach when he was in West Palm Beach. MSNBC referred to "West Palm Beach County" on Monday morning. Saturday Night Live referred to the "West Palm Beach Department of Elections."

Let's try this one more time.

West Palm Beach (pop. 81,132, per capita income $15,712) is an independent city on the west side of the town of Palm Beach, hence the title. West Palm Beach is home to the Palm Beach County Governmental Center, where all the protests are taking place and the ballots are being counted. But it's not Palm Beach...

LESSON NO. 4: How to say Boca Raton. MSNBC's Lester Holt keeps saying Boca "Ra-tahn." For the record, it's Boca "Ra-tone," Lester. Think of the city of Boca (pop. 69,994, per capita income $28,307) as the Palm Beach of southern Palm Beach County. On the other hand, that would confuse you....

So, to recap: Palm Beach is an island town to the east of West Palm Beach in the central section of Palm Beach County. Palm Beach is not West Palm Beach. West Palm Beach is not Palm Beach. But both are part of Palm Beach County, as is Boca Raton, which is pronounced "Ra-tone."

And you thought our ballot was confusing.

    END Excerpt

    For the complete article, go to:


From the November 13 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Dumb Guys Ways to Solve Presidential Election Confusion." Copyright 2000 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. Find some guy named George W. Gore. Make him President.
9. Each can be President of the people who voted for them.
8. Thaw out Walt Disney, let him cast the deciding vote.
7. I don't care how things get solved; just don't run any special reports during 'Becker.'
6. Do what they do in other important contests in Florida: swimsuit competition.
5. Form conga line with everyone in Palm Beach (won't solve a thing but boy are they fun).
4. Whichever news anchor can stay awake the longest gets to pick.
3. New rule: you punch 2 holes, voting booth explodes.
2. Let my brother Jeb decide.
1. Solve it? Are you nuts? This is great!

    And, from the Late Show Web page, some of the extra entries which didn't make the final cut:

-- 275,000,000 person show-of-hands
-- Ask Count Chocula, he'll know what to do
-- Get a short-term President from one of them temp agencies
-- Make ballots simpler by letting only one person run for President
-- Whichever candidate weighs more at noon on Friday wins
-- Decide the presidency the way they do in France: with a wine-soaked sex-a-thon

    If we followed the last suggestion Bill Clinton would remain in office forever. -- Brent Baker


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