Gore's Claims Given Credibility; Another "Conservative" Judge; Morning Hosts Whined About Disenfranchised in Palm Beach
1) After Al Gore's Monday night
address, ABC's Peter Jennings repeated his pronouncements about
"wanting to respect the will of the voters," but the night before,
after Bush spoke, Jennings stressed that though he may "technically"
be President-elect, "this is certainly not over."
2) Al Gore claimed that Miami-Dade "election
officials brought the count to a premature end in the face of organized
intimidation." NBC Nightly News relayed the charge while ABC actually
noted that "the election supervisor denied he felt threatened."
3) "Gore's lawyers claim Bush's 537 vote
lead would vanish if all votes in these places were counted properly,"
declared CBS's Byron Pitts as the broadcast network evening shows treated
Gore's contest efforts as a credible and reasonable effort.
4) Dan Rather promised "fair" reporting
just before he asked a Gore lawyer about his route to victory while with a
Bush lawyer Rather demanded he respond to the assumption Gore is
"absolutely convinced" that most voted for him "and that the
proof of that is how hard" the Bush team is fighting "to stop the
5) The networks have found another
"conservative" judge in Florida as both ABC and NBC agreed that's
the ideology of the judge hearing the Gore election contest case.
6) Only NBC on Monday night gave voice to
Democrats suggesting it may be time for Gore to concede. Robert Reich raised
the idea on Monday's GMA, but World News Tonight didn't mention it.
7) An ABC News poll determined most think Al Gore
should concede and that a big majority would consider Bush legitimately
elected. Peter Jennings held off on citing the poll numbers until after the
first ad break on World News Tonight.
8) ABC and NBC morning hosts whined to Bob
Crawford about how unfair it was not to include Palm Beach County's late
numbers. ABC's Charles Gibson: "Doesn't it disenfranchise voters in
Palm Beach County not to take the results that they handed in?"
9) Judge Charles Burton wasn't too upset by his
work not being counted as he blamed Democrats for delays. The Boston Globe
revealed Burton once interned for Senator Ted Kennedy.
10) Bryant Gumbel raced to discredit members of
the U.S. Supreme Court: "Five of the nine justices...came to the job
during Bush Senior's watch, either as President or Vice President."
Eleanor Clift charged Bush should be "ashamed" and recalled George
Wallace in rebuking his criticism of the Florida Supreme Court.
"Margaret's Flagrant Foul: Feminists find an enemy in the Endless
Election." In the weekend piece, posted on the National Review Online
site, the MRC's Tim Graham examined the political agenda of Time's
Margaret Carlson: "Her solidarity with American womanhood is
decidedly truncated, excluding all those working women who threaten a
liberal utopia. For most of the Clinton years, Margaret has seen her
feminist duty as throwing rose petals before the long march of her
personal inspiration, Hillary Rodham Clinton....The zenith of Margaret's
Hillary hagiography came in one of the most preposterous passages of the
1990s, in a 1993 Vanity Fair profile: 'Valentine's Day at the Red Sage
restaurant. Even at a romantic outing, the President can be the date from
hell, talking to everyone but the girl he brung....Finally alone, they
have 'painted soup' and the lamb baked in herbed bread. They exchange
gifts and touch each other more in two hours than the Bushes did in four
years.'" To read the whole article, go to:
Al Gore addressed the nation Monday night, ABC's Peter
Jennings and George Stephanopoulos repeated his pronouncements about
"wanting to respect the will of the voters" and value the
"integrity of democracy" as Stephanopoulos said Gore tried to
"elevate the tone of the debate," but the night before, after
George W. Bush's national address, Jennings stressed that though he may
"technically" be President-elect, "this is certainly not
Monday night following Al Gore's 8:55pm ET
remarks, Stephanopoulos summed up: "Well, we heard this repeat of the
brief 'every vote has to count,' the votes have been 'incomplete and
inaccurate.' What struck me though is it was a kind of an ode to the
voting process and I think he was trying to elevate the tone of the
agreed: "He said it a couple of times earlier today, wanting to
respect the will of the voters and that the 'integrity of democracy'
was here at stake."
echoed the spin: "Ignoring votes is ignoring democracy. You'll hear
that again and again in the coming days."
But Sunday night, after Bush's short 9:30pm ET
speech, the MRC's Tim Graham noticed how Jennings emphasized how
uncertain the race remained as he undermined the import of Bush's
message: "Governor George W. Bush of Texas speaking from the state
capital of Austin, giving the brief remarks of a man who unquestionably
believes he is the President-elect. If by chance, you joined us late, you
may not know that the Secretary of State in Florida today certified the
election results for that state, even though in some respects they were
not fully complete. Palm Beach County, one of the most contested counties
in the state, did not fulfill or did not finish its complete count on
time, and so the Secretary of State chose the election numbers from
November the 14th, the time she tried to certify the election once before.
So though Governor Bush quotes Thomas Jefferson and says every difference
of opinion is not necessarily a difference of principle, names a
transition team led by Dick Cheney, names Andy Card to be a chief of staff
and says he wants to open a transition office and work with President
Clinton, this is certainly not over. There are, there is a raft of legal
challenges both in Florida, at the appeals court in Atlanta, and at the
Supreme Court of the United States which are going to have to be dealt
with in some fashion in the week ahead."
Stephanopoulos praised Bush's tactics: "He
also did something else very smart. He raised a question whether Al Gore
would actually go ahead with these contests, actually called on Vice
President Gore to cease and desist. Now will Vice President Gore agree to
that? Absolutely not. But by creating some uncertainty tonight, it makes
him a more certain President-elect."
Jennings responded: "There is no doubt whatsoever
that Al Gore is going to contest this in every possible way....So, another
phase in the presidential war, and it is still very much a war, as you
will see when you get up tomorrow and see the election challenges filed in
Florida and a variety of other places as well. But there it is, speaking
as President-elect tonight, which he is technically. On our election map,
we now say that Florida has been certified, and therefore won by Mr. Bush.
It may yet change."
officials "intimidated" by a raging GOP mob? During his Monday
night remarks, Al Gore asserted as fact: "In one county, election
officials brought the count to a premature end in the face of organized
None of the broadcast networks mentioned the claim
in their brief post address coverage. During their earlier evening
newscasts CBS didn't mention the charge, NBC relayed it while ABC
actually noted that "the election supervisor denied he felt
After Gore finished Monday night, Dan Rather wrapped
up a CBS News special report by simply repeating Gore's spin: "Vice
President Al Gore in Washington saying that many thousands of votes that
were cast on election day have not yet been counted. He also said this is
America, when votes are cast they are counted here."
On the November 27 NBC Nightly News, David Bloom
asserted without any supporting evidence: "In court papers filed this
afternoon, Gore's lawyers contend that in three Florida counties --
Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Nassau, quote, 'the vote totals are wrong.'
Gore arguing that he would have picked up an additional 600 votes in
Miami-Dade if that county had not illegally stopped its manual recount of
10,000 disputed ballots, Gore's team blaming that controversial decision
on quote, 'a campaign of personal attacks' launched by Bush
But on ABC's World News Tonight while reporter
Bill Redeker repeated the Gore charge that election officials in
Miami-Dade County "were intimidated by Republican
demonstrators," he added that "today the election supervisor
denied he felt threatened."
Viewers then saw
this soundbite from David Leahy: "From their perspective I can
understand where they might have thought we were intimidated and our vote
was based on that intimidation. But the fact is that it wasn't. I simply
made my decision based on the fact that we could not certify in
broadcast network evening shows treated Al Gore's contest case as a
credible and reasonable effort worthy of respectful coverage. All three
evening shows ran through the Gore team's claims about undercounts and
missed counts as ABC's World News Tonight led with three stories in a
row on Gore's various lawsuits. NBC Nightly News devoted a whole story
to the Gore vote capturing dream numbers. CBS's Byron Pitts added up the
Gore claims and concluded: "By the Democrats' math, Al Gore should
have finished at least 1,288 votes ahead of George W. Bush."
Dan Rather opened the November 27 CBS Evening News
by giving equal weight to the claims of both candidates, though only Bush
was certified the winner the night before:
moved into a new phase today. Believing he is now President-elect, and
claiming to be, Texas Governor George Bush kicked his transition team into
high gear. But Vice President Al Gore said, not so fast. He is challenging
the election on the basis that there are thousands of votes that have
never been counted and he will address the nation this evening to explain
why he is in the courts to contest the
Byron Pitts later delivered, without contradictory
information, the Gore case: "Gore's lawyers claim Bush's 537 vote
lead would vanish if all votes in these places were counted properly. The
manual recount in Palm Beach rejected by the Secretary of State would net
Gore 215 votes, a partial recount in Miami-Dade would give Gore another
160 votes. In Nassau County the Gore campaign claims 50 votes for the Vice
President were discounted illegally. Even more significant, they argue,
approximately 4,000 contested ballots were never counted in Palm Beach.
There the Gore campaign estimates a net gain of 800 votes. And the 9,000
ballots never recounted in Miami-Dade. Here a net gain of 600 votes. By
the Democrats' math, Al Gore should have finished at least 1,288 votes
ahead of George W. Bush."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Jim Avila detailed,
without considering any dubiousness, the Gore claims. Avila reported, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
to courtrooms across Florida, today the Gore campaign focuses on three
counties in a desperate effort to find 538 votes -- enough to win the
state and the presidency. First stop, Nassau County, northeast corner of
the state, 51 votes on the line here. In dispute, the election board's
abrupt decision to file the first machine recount results rather than the
subsequent hand recount that gave Gore more votes."
Shirley King, Nassau
County Supervisor of Elections: "Every vote counts, so why not go
back and count them?"
Palm Beach, 210 votes immediately at stake. In dispute, the election board
missed the Secretary of State's deadline. The machine original recount
was certified, costing the Vice President votes. And finally, and most
important, Miami-Dade. Two issues here. First, 157 new Gore votes tallied
before the recount was suspended and never added to the Gore column. And
then the big prize, 10,000 uncounted disputed ballots. These are the punch
cards on which machines found no presidential votes. They've not been
counted by hand."
Prof. Lance DeHaven
Smith, Florida State University: "The presidential election for the
year 2000 hinges on whether the manual recount is required in Miami-Dade
County or not."
"Miami-Dade not a huge overall margin for Gore here -- 53-46. But
experts say in a recount Democrats frequently collect the majority of
Democrats tend to be the people that are making these errors, and I think
that's probably so because the Democrats tend to be older. Sometimes
they're sporadic voters."
"So how do the numbers add up? Al Gore has a 537 certified vote lead
to overcome. If he wins his case in Nassau County, the Bush lead shrinks
to 486. If Gore wins his case in Palm Beach, the Bush lead shrinks again
to 276. If he wins in Miami-Dade, the Bush lead shrinks to 119. Not enough
votes for Gore unless the courts rule his way down the line. A political
struggle in both the courtroom and the counting room the Democrats hope
will overturn the Florida certified vote and leave Al Gore
Dan Rather goes out of his way to promise "fair" and
"accurate" reporting you know bias is coming. Monday night,
after just such an assurance, he ran back-to-back interviews with Gore
lawyer David Boies and Bush lawyer Ben Ginsberg. With Boies, he
concentrated on the route Boies sees to victory, but with Ginsberg Rather
demanded he respond to the supposition Gore is contesting the election
"because he is absolutely convinced" that most Floridians voted
for him "and that the proof of that is how hard" the Bush team
is fighting "to stop the counting."
Rather set up the November 27 CBS Evening News
segment: "In an effort to bring you more fair, accurate clarity, with
insight into the historic court cases, I talked late today with two of the
key attorneys mapping the strategy for their respective sides. First,
David Boies from the Gore campaign.
Rather's inquiries to Boies, as taken down by MRC
analyst Brad Wilmouth:
-- "Stretch out
for me a course in which Al Gore could wind up getting Florida's
electoral votes. To a lot of people, it looks impossible at this
-- "How does he
get from where he is, Vice President Gore, to a winning posture in
-- "Is it your
expectation in your heart of hearts that Al Gore will win this
Rather moved on to an excerpt of a second interview:
"I also spoke very late in the day with a key legal strategist for
the Bush campaign, attorney Ben Ginsberg." Rather's two questions
the most important thing for the American people to know right now?"
-- "What about
the argument, which I'm sure you've heard, that Vice President Gore is
continuing to contest the election because he is absolutely convinced that
more Floridians went to the polls to vote for him than did for George Bush
and that the proof of that is how hard you and others are fighting on
behalf of George Bush to stop the counting?"
networks have found another "conservative" judge in Florida as
both ABC and NBC agreed that's the ideology of the judge hearing the
Gore election contest case. As you may remember, to use a Peter Jennings
phrase, the Friday before the Florida Supreme Court issued its activist
ruling, Jennings assured November 17 World News Tonight viewers:
"There are seven justices. Six were appointed by Democratic
Governors. Our legal analyst in Florida tells us that only one of the
judges is considered to be a liberal, the rest are regarded as moderate to
Fast forward ten days to November 27. ABC reporter
Erin Hayes asserted on World News Tonight that the Leon County judge who
will decide the Gore election contest case, Sander Sauls, has been
"on the bench for nearly twenty years, conservative, seen by many as
slow and methodical, he was demoted from a chief judge position." Hayes added: "Once a Republican, Sauls is
now a Democrat with connections likely to raise questions. On a list of
his personal references handed out by the court, the name Dexter Douglass,
a lead attorney arguing this case for Vice President Gore."
NBC's Dan Abrams offered a matching label on the
NBC Nightly News: "His friends describe him as the perfect judge for
the case. He's 59-years-old, he's a graduate of the University of
Florida Law School, he was appointed to the bench in 1989 by Republican
Governor Bob Martinez, even though he's now a registered Democrat. Those
who've argued before him describe him as conservative for this
on Monday night gave voice to any Democrats suggesting it may be time for
Gore to concede. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich raised the idea on
Monday's Good Morning America, but World News Tonight didn't mention
David Bloom, however, did pick up on it on the NBC
Nightly News: "But already some Democrats are questioning just how
long Gore should fight."
Toricelli: "The country has to get on with its life and the country
needs a President."
"Al Gore would be a far better President than George W. Bush. But at
some point you've got to say enough is enough."
News poll determined most think Al Gore should concede and that a big
majority would consider Bush legitimately elected, but Peter Jennings held
off on citing the poll numbers until after the first ad break on World
On Monday's show Jennings relayed the findings of
a post-certification ABC News/Washington Post poll: "We found that 60
percent of Americans think that Al Gore should concede the election now,
but only 40 percent think he should do so because the vote count was fair.
17 percent simply want this to be over with. 76 percent of Americans told
us they would consider Mr. Bush legitimately elected if he eventually
Brit Hume highlighted on FNC's Special report with
Brit Hume Zogby poll numbers about how more fear Gore than Bush will steal
the election: "John Zogby, one of the few pollsters who picked up the
late swing toward Gore before Election Day, has picked up another swing
that will be much less welcome to the Vice President. A Zogby poll found
that 60 percent think that if Gore ends up winning, he stole the election.
Only 21 percent feel he will be legitimate. By contrast 47 percent feel
that if Bush wins, he will be legitimate, with only 30 percent believing
he stole the election."
NBC morning hosts whined to Bob Crawford about how unfair it was not to
include Palm Beach County's hand count numbers in the certified numbers
even though they missed the court imposed deadline which gave them an
additional week and a half beyond the statutory filing date.
"Mr. Crawford," pleaded ABC's Charles
Gibson, "why did you decide not to give Palm Beach County the extra
time, the just couple of extra hours that it asked for to finish its
count?" Gibson proposed: "But doesn't it disenfranchise voters
in Palm Beach County not to take the results that they handed in?"
NBC's Katie Couric seemed baffled: "I'm not quite sure what the
rationale was for not extending the deadline?....So how would the
inclusion of these numbers in Palm Beach compromise the integrity of the
On ABC's Good Morning America on Monday morning,
co-host Charles Gibson, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, grilled
Florida Canvassing Board member Bob Crawford:
-- "Do you feel
confident that you certified last night the person who got the most votes
in the state of Florida, or just the most votes within the deadline?"
-- "So there's
no doubt in your mind that George Bush got the most votes in the state of
-- "But Mr.
Klain, the attorney for Al Gore, said just a few moments ago on this air,
look, there are some votes that haven't been counted once, the undercount
votes in Miami-Dade."
Crawford, why did you decide not to give Palm Beach County the extra time,
the just couple of extra hours that it asked for to finish its count, and
then decide to throw out their partial recount? I mean, after all, the
judge had said the votes could come in at 5 p.m. Sunday or 9 a.m.
-- "But doesn't
it disenfranchise voters in Palm Beach County not to take the results that
they handed in?"
"Not really, Charlie. What Palm Beach County did, they knew the
deadline was coming. They sent in a certified vote and they had two things
they sent us. They sent us a certified vote of the machine recount, which
we already had, then they also sent us a partial manual recount. Had we
taken the partial manual recount, Al Gore would have been 15,000 votes
short because it was not a complete count and there's no way we could have
pieced that back together. So we took the only complete vote we had,
required under the law, and we certified that, and that's the result that
On NBC's Today, Crawford received a similarly
tough reception from Katie Couric who was upset by the lack of inclusion
of the late numbers, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed. Her
-- "When we
last spoke you claimed that your aim was to quote, 'produce an election in
Florida that the state and country can believe is credible.' Do you think
you've have accomplished that?"
-- "Let's talk
about Palm Beach County if we could for a moment, Mr. Crawford. As you
know that county was denied an extension and submitted its recount results
at 7:08pm, two hours and eight minutes after the deadline. Now they
netted, apparently, about 200 votes for Gore but those votes were not
included in the final tally. Why wasn't that deadline extended to
accommodate the Palm Beach recount? I know that you met with Katherine
Harris and Clay Roberts? What was the thinking behind that decision?"
-- "But that
was the only choice you had if you were...if you didn't extend the
deadline. I'm not quite sure what the rationale was for not extending the
-- "I was just
going to read what the Supreme Court ruling also said. 'Because the right
to vote is the preeminent right and the declaration of rights of the
Florida Constitution the circumstances under which the Secretary may
exercise her authority to ignore a county's returns filed after the
initial statutory date are limited. The Secretary may ignore such results
only if their inclusion will compromise the integrity of the electoral
process.' So how would the inclusion of these numbers in Palm Beach
compromise the integrity of the process?"
Beach County judge Charles Burton wasn't too upset by his work not being
counted as he blamed Democrats for delaying the process, a point not
picked up on by the networks Monday night. And the Boston Globe revealed
Burton once interned for Senator Ted Kennedy.
ABC's Charles Gibson opened Monday's Good
Morning America by previewing how "we're going to talk to the
Chairman of Palm Beach County's Canvassing Board in an exclusive
interview, and he is pretty angry."
Actually, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, he
was resigned to reality. After pressing Bob Crawford, Gibson returned to
Burton, whom he'd interviewed earlier: "I just want to go back to
Judge Charles Burton, who ran that canvassing board in Palm Beach County,
for a reaction. What do you basically feel about Katherine Harris and that
board, that they turned down your extra votes?"
"I think quite honestly the truthful answer is they could have waited
and they could have said, 'We'll give you an extra couple of hours,' but
you know, as he [Crawford] pointed out, it certainly wouldn't have changed
the outcome. I think there's a couple of important things, though,
Charlie. I mean, going into this we felt that whatever standard we came up
with and however we reviewed these ballots, it had to fair, it had to be
geared towards achieving a fair result, not geared towards achieving a
certain result. And you know one thing I want to mention, when all is said
and done, I mean, the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, everybody
agreed to the standard we had applied in reviewing these ballots, and it
was only after about four days into it that the Democratic Party went back
to court to try and, you know, basically have us change that standard
because I guess they realized they weren't getting enough votes."
That demand kept him in court for half of last
"Newton Native Kept Cool in Drama" read
the headline over a November 27 Boston Globe story which revealed a fresh
tidbit about Burton's resume. Reporter Lynda Gorov disclosed:
canvassing board chairman on whose every decision the presidency, in part,
hung in recent weeks, is another Florida transplant. Growing up, home was
Newton. College was Suffolk University. He even interned for U.S. Senator
Edward M. Kennedy."
Burton certainly acted a lot less partisan than does
Gumbel beat Democratic spinners in the race to be the first to discredit
members of the U.S. Supreme Court because they were nominated by either
the Reagan-Bush or Bush administration.
On Monday's The Early Show on CBS, MRC analyst
Brian Boyd noticed, Gumbel asked law professor Jonathan Turley: "Five
of the nine justices on the Supreme Court came to the job during Bush
Senior's watch, either as President or Vice President. Is it insulting to
even talk of the politics entering into this?"
Newsweek's Eleanor Clift dismissed any such
concerns on the McLaughlin Group over the weekend as she equated George W.
Bush with George Wallace:
"And the way
that Governor Bush trashed the Florida Supreme Court. He ought to be
ashamed. I haven't heard that kind of language since George Wallace and
Richard Nixon. And frankly if the U.S. Supreme Court now hears this case,
seven judges on the Supreme Court were appointed by Republicans. Does that
mean that I think they don't have the country's interest at heart and
that they're tools of the Republican Party? No, I don't!"
Let's see what she thinks after they decide. -- Brent Baker
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