Rather Rued "Roadblock" for Gore; Jennings Suggested Gore a "Victim"; FNC Disclosed Broward Hand Count Shenanigans
1) Dan Rather
adopted the Gore team spin in leading his broadcast by characterizing a
court ruling as a "roadblock" in Gore's effort for a
"fast-track Florida vote count."
2) Jennings, Rather and Brokaw all pressed
Al Gore with tough questions on procedural matters, but none cast doubt
on the legitimacy of his pursuit. Jennings also asked Gore if he thinks
he's "the victim of circumstance" and Rather wondered if
Gore believed "that the Bush forces are being if not dishonest, at
least not all together straight forward..."
3) Al Gore displayed a remarkable level of
lack of knowledge about computers, but none of the network anchors
picked up on it. Gore asserted: "It's just like the supermarket
check out line where that scanner misses some of the items and the clerk
has to go back and write it in by hand." Huh? "Write...by
hand" into a computer?
4) Brokaw suggested to Cheney that if the
Florida legislature assigns Bush electors and the bill is signed by Jeb
Bush, "won't that just simply politicize this entire affair, and
won't that make it very questionable as you try to take office on
January 20th in the eyes of the American public?"
5) Fourteen times as many people think Gore
as Bush should concede, determined a new CBS News/New York Times poll.
6) While ABC, CBS and NBC were giving air
time to Gore's mantra about "fair and accurate" hand counts,
FNC demonstrated how a look at the transcripts of the Broward County
canvassing board decision-making last week revealed "a process that
is anything but fair or accurate."
7) Picking up on how Dan Rather on Sunday
night characterized Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris's
certification action, FNC's Brit Hume played clips of Rather
discrediting the import of her decision by stressing it's how
"she sees it."
8) Campaign 2000 Media Reality Check.
"Patience Is a Very Partisan Thing: Network Stars Wanted the
Impeachment Trial Cut Short, Hammered GOP for 'Lengthening the
Rather spun a court ruling as a "roadblock" to Gore's
"fast-track" quest. Leading with Leon County Judge Sanders
Saul's decision to require all of the Miami-Dade ballots be trucked to
Tallahassee, not just the 10,000 the Gore operatives want counted again,
Rather opened Wednesday's CBS Evening News:
"A judge has
hit Vice President Al Gore with a new and potentially time-consuming
roadblock this evening in Gore's bid to beat the clock and get the
fast-track Florida vote count he wants...."
hit the trifecta Wednesday night, November 29, with appearances on all
three broadcast network evening shows and while Peter Jennings, Dan Rather
and Tom Brokaw all pressed him with tough questions on procedural matters,
such as if he's concede if the U.S. Supreme Court rules against him or
if his action endangers the electoral college selection, none doubted the
legitimacy of his pursuit or suggested he's violating the rule of law.
Jennings and Rather tossed in a softball each.
Jennings absolved Gore of responsibility: "Do you think in may ways
sir you're the victim of circumstance now?" Rather began a
question: "Do you or do you not believe that the Bush forces are
being if not dishonest, at least not all together straight
ABC and CBS played back Gore interview excerpts from
taped sessions while NBC had Gore live in their initial 6:30pm ET show,
followed by Dick Cheney. (See item #4 below for details about Brokaw and
Cheney.) Gore and Cheney also appeared on CNN in prime time, but I
didn't get to see those interviews.
> ABC's World News Tonight. The questions from
Peter Jennings to Al Gore:
-- "Mr. Vice President, we can't remember the
last time you made yourself so available to the media at your suggestion
and I wonder if I'm fair in trying to say that you're trying to change
the perception reflected in many polls that the time is fast approaching
for you to accept the certified results in Florida and concede the
-- "You keep saying counting the votes in
Florida, sir. Do you not mean more specifically 'recounting' the
-- "You have not, sir, been completely clear or
consistent about a date certain on which you will no longer continue the
legal challenge. Do you believe that date is December the 12th?"
Gore: "I think
this is going to be over with by the middle of December."
12th of December is indeed the middle of December but why don't you like
to settle on the date?"
-- "Do you support in spirit, though your name
is not on the suit, the effort to throw out the ballots in Seminole County
because the Republicans put an identification number on the
-- "Do you think in may ways sir you're the
victim of circumstance now?"
don't feel like a victim. I feel like somebody who is fighting for a
principle that's at the heart of our democracy and I feel like
somebody's who's going to win on that principle."
is ironic is it not though sir that after 25 years as a politician, always
appealing directly to the people to be elected time and time again, you
now must rely on lawyers to get you into the White House?"
relying on the people..."
> CBS Evening News. Dan Rather first asked Gore
about how Dick Cheney "suggested among other things that you were now
endangering the country. Your response?"
-- "If the U.S. Supreme Court rules against you
on Friday will you then give it up?"
-- When Gore said only that he wouldn't speculate
on court action, Rather followed-up: "But back to the question. If
they rule against you, you don't have to speculate on what they're
going to do, if they rule against you are you then prepared to say, 'I
still think it's unfair, I still think I won the election but for the
good of the country I'll concede'?"
-- "Do you or do you not believe that the Bush
forces are being if not dishonest, at least not all together straight
forward, by moving to a transition, by being seen and in effect saying,
'Look, we won the election, George Bush is the next President and
we're moving to it'?"
-- "George Bush's argument is that those
votes have gone through a machine at least once, and many of them have
gone through twice, and it's his argument that they have been counted.
Most of them not once but twice."
> NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw to Gore:
-- "Mr. Vice President, you keep talking about
the role of the people in all of this. Don't the people of this country
deserve to know how you would react if next week some time early the
headline reads: 'Gore loses in U.S. Supreme Court.' Now you don't
have to speculate on that. I just have for you."
-- "Alright, well let's then, why not count
the more than one million votes that were cast in Miami-Dade County and in
Palm Beach County as Governor Bush's team has requested today?"
-- "Mr. Vice President, there are another
160,000 of those [under count] ballots in the state of Florida, and
you're not asking for them to be recounted."
-- "And Republicans want to know that if
you're so eager to have every vote counted, why you don't repudiate
that lawsuit that has been filed in Seminole County contesting those
absentee ballots, just the applications for them in which the registration
was filled in by others fulfilling what many Republicans are saying was a
mere technicality. Why not repudiate that lawsuit?"
-- "Final question, Mr. Vice President, if
there is not a final recount by December 12th when the electors must be
selected in Florida, will you set aside your personal interest and get out
of this race in what you could perceive to be the interest of the
into a computer? In all three interviews Wednesday night Al Gore seemed to
display a complete lack of understanding of how supermarket scanners, or
computers for that matter, really work as they use a keypad and not some
sort of writing tablet, but none of the network anchors picked up on his
misstatements as he related the same anecdotal example to make a point in
all three interviews.
Asked by Dan Rather about how "George Bush's
argument is that those votes have gone through a machine at least once,
and many of them have gone through twice, and it's his argument that
they have been counted," Gore replied: "They haven't been
counted. It's just like the supermarket check out line where that
scanner misses some of the items and the clerk has to go back and write it
in by hand. They look at it, see what it says and write it in. We trust
the people to make up for the mistakes in the machines."
Twice during his answer Gore used his hands to mimic
handwriting something as he put the fingers of one hand together, as if
holding a pen, and wiggled them above the open palm on his other hand.
In response to a similar inquiry from Tom Brokaw,
Gore outlined the same supermarket analogy and, as he mimicked
handwriting, asserted that when the scanner does not pick up on an item
you don't get it for free as "they write down the amount by hand.
And that's because computers make mistakes."
Of course, as anyone who has been a grocery store in
the last 15 or so years knows, grocery scanners work off bar codes and so
when one is not read the cashier enters the actual bar code number
sequence. But not by hand. They use the keypad which comes with computer
Gore, Dick Cheney was quizzed by NBC's Tom Brokaw in Cheney's only
broadcast network evening show appearance.
Brokaw started with procedural questions about why
the Bush team is not agreeing to Gore's new counting proposals and
suggested that if the Florida legislature assigns Bush electors and the
bill is signed by Jeb Bush "won't that just simply politicize this
entire affair, and won't that make it very questionable as you try to
take office on January 20th in the eyes of the American public?" Of
course, forcing that situation is probably the Gore strategy as they hope
for just this media reaction, but Brokaw didn't put that burden on Gore.
Brokaw also pushed Cheney for not releasing more health information.
Brokaw's questions on the NBC Nightly News, as
taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
-- "First of all, you have been saying, and so
has your old friend Jim Baker down in Florida that speed is of the essence
here to get on with the transition, and yet the Bush legal team today were
making requests that would only delay what is a legally entitled contest
of this election by asking it for more ballots to be counted. How do you
square the two of those?"
-- "But why not speed the process instead of
drag it out?"
-- "Mr. Secretary, if the heavily Republican
Florida legislature gets involved in this and elects a slate of electors
for the state of Florida and that bill is signed, as he has indicated that
he will, by Jeb Bush, the brother of your presidential candidate, won't
that just simply politicize this entire affair, and won't that make it
very questionable as you try to take office on January 20th in the eyes of
the American public?"
-- "But it's not hypothetical to say that the
Florida legislature might, in fact, elect that slate. They are already
talking about that and the Governor tonight, just in this broadcast, said
that he would sign the bill."
-- "Mr. Secretary, I've known you for a long
time, almost thirty years at this point, in your public and private life.
You've never held any back secrets from anyone. Why not release all of
your medical records, if not to the general press, at least to the medical
press, which does include many very qualified physicians?"
-- "But can't you understand why reporters
might take this to independent medical experts and let them make an
-- "Mr. Secretary, Governor Bush is down at the
ranch. You seem to be doing all the work. A Democratic operative today
said Dick Cheney needs a 'Patient's Bill of Rights.'"
times as many people think Gore as Bush should concede, determined a new
CBS News/New York Times poll relayed Wednesday night by Dan Rather.
The "out of patience" number rose to 52
percent this week, up from 45 percent last week Rather noted. Who
"should concede?" Gore, answered 42 percent, Bush just 3
percent. Neither, replied 48 percent. Was the "certified Florida
count fair and accurate?" The same
percentage, 47, said no and yes.
ABC, CBS and NBC were giving air time to Gore's mantra about a
"fair and accurate" recount/hand count of ballots in a couple of
counties, the Fox News Channel demonstrated how a look at the transcripts
of the Broward County canvassing board decision-making last week revealed
"a process that is anything but fair or accurate." FNC's
William La Jeunesse showed how Democratic member Susan Gunzburger pushed
for Gore votes others didn't see and even bent ballots to get light to
shine through as "transcripts from last week's hand count reveal
Gunzburger bending the rules for her candidate Al Gore, but not for
La Jeunesse began his November 29 piece on Special
Report with Brit Hume, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
County started hand counting ballots but stopped because it couldn't
meet a deadline, but Vice President Gore still wants those 10,000 ballots
counted again, calling a hand count fair and accurate. But take a look
behind the scenes in Broward County. The GOP says transcripts reveal a
process that is anything but fair or accurate."
La Jeunesse explained: "The Broward canvassing
board is composed of one Republican and two Democrats -- County
Commissioner Susan Gunzburger and Judge Robert Lee. Transcripts from last
week's hand count reveal Gunzburger bending the rules for her candidate
Al Gore, but not for Bush. Looking at a ballot, she says, 'I've read
some opinions that say when there is light visible, that's a punch for
the candidate.' 'I don't see it,' says Judge Lee. Judge Rosenberg:
'I don't see any light.' Gunzburger insists, 'Turn it around.'
Finally, Lee agrees: 'All right, a vote for Gore.' Later, Gunzburger
argued against the same standard for Bush. Another time Gunzburger bends a
ballot until light passes through. The Republican representative, Judge
Robert Rosenberg objects, suggesting she's creating a vote for Gore.
'I ask you not bend the ballot,' he said. 'Don't bend the
ballot,' says an observer. Another says, 'You may not bend the
ballot.' Too late. Finally, Judge Lee announces, 'A vote for Gore.'
Republicans are upset, La Jeunesse relayed,
"because Gunzburger guesses voter intent, not based on chads alone,
but patterns, and how voters voted in races other than the presidency.
'The other races are Democratic. There is an indentation. I would say a
vote for Gore.' On another ballot, Lee and Rosenberg saw quote, 'No
intent.' However, Gunzburger insists, 'It's pushed on Gore. I'm
going to say it's a Gore vote based on the rest of the ballot.'
Democrats insist hand counts are objective. In Broward alone they gained
567 votes, but Republicans say those votes are unfair because board
members are political, like it or not."
Dan, the newsman." Picking up on how Dan Rather on Sunday night
characterized Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris's
certification action, as documented in a November 27 MRC Media Reality
Check, Brit Hume ended his FNC show Wednesday night by playing clips of
Rather repeatedly discrediting the import of her decision by stressing
it's how "she sees it."
Hume set up the clips: "Finally, we go back to
Sunday's big event in Tallahassee, the official certification by the
Florida Secretary of State of George W. Bush as the winner of the state of
a Florida, a duty conferred on her by Florida law once she has received
the returns showing who got the most votes. This is how it played on CBS
Special Report with Brit Hume viewers then saw a
compilation of clips from Rather's November 26 CBS News special report
at about 7:20pm ET:
-- "Florida's Republican Secretary of State
is about to announce the winner -- as she sees it and she decrees it -- of
the state's potentially decisive 25 electoral votes."
believed certification -- as the Republican Secretary of State sees
-- "She will
certify -- as she sees it -- who gets Florida's 25 electoral
certification -- as the Florida Secretary of State sees it and decrees it
-- is being signed."
Afterward, Hume quipped: "Captain Dan, the
To read the MRC's Monday Media Reality Check by
Tim Graham, with the above plus additional Rather quotes, "Bush Wins?
Not As Democrat Dan Rather Sees It: CBS Anchor Suggests Florida's
Partisan Secretary of State is Far from the Final Nail in Al Gore's
Coffin," go to:
For the Adobe Acrobat PDF version, go to:
Early this afternoon ET, MRC Webmaster Andy Szul
will post a RealPlayer video clip of what Hume showed. Go to the MRC
home page or to the above Media Reality Check's HTML address.
network reporters have conveyed some interest in when Gore might drop his
fight, it's been nothing like the vehemence to "move on"
displayed during the impeachment saga. So the MRC's Tim Graham recalled
in putting together a Campaign 2000 Media Reality Check on Wednesday
titled, "Patience Is a Very Partisan Thing: Network Stars Wanted the
Impeachment Trial Cut Short, Hammered GOP for 'Lengthening the
You can view this report as fax recipients saw it by
going to the Adobe Acrobat PDF version:
The pull-out quote in the middle of the page:
When Dan Wanted Immediate Closure
"Bob, is there or is there not any sense among the Senators, any
talk among the Senators, that there's other very important business that
needs to be attended to? Saddam Hussein has his aircraft in the air
threatening U.S. fighting men and women in the military. There are
questions about Social Security, what to do about health care. There's a
long line of the people's business that seems to have been put aside and
apparently is going to be put aside for weeks if not months now." --
Dan Rather to Bob Schieffer at about 1:25pm ET during the start of the
Senate trial, the signing of the oath book by Senators, January 7.
The text of the November 29 Media Reality Check:
Three weeks and a day into Al Gore's Don't Get Snippy Courthouse
Tour, the media keeps floating every potential scheme toward overturning
the certified Bush presidency. Is this amazing patience a sign of great
objectivity before declaring a winner? For the answer, see network
reaction to the Senate impeachment trial in 1999. There were no sermons
about the need for every legal avenue to be explored. Instead, the network
stars felt the need to move on to the nation's business:
-- "Part of it is that you have conservative Republicans who just
want to torture the President for as long as they humanly can. But
part of it is that you have serious constitutionalists who really think
the process should play out..." -- ABC's Cokie Roberts answering a
question on why it was hard to start the trial, January 5 World News
-- "But Senator, if there's no way that this is going to turn
around, if the votes aren't there, why is your party dragging this thing
out?...But what is certain is what the public sentiment is on this thing.
People want it over with, and if the votes aren't there, why not, why go
through all this business about witnesses? Why not just get it done?"
-- Good Morning America co-host Charlie Gibson to Bob Dole, January 18.
-- "Bob Dole was here yesterday, a Republican, who said, look, the
67 votes aren't there and aren't going to be there to convict the
President. So why, why drag this out when the public, so obviously,
doesn't want it dragged out?" -- Gibson to Democrat George Mitchell,
"Questions such as what to do about Social Security, improving the nation's schools, and the drug menace among
America's youth basically are on hold. So is what to do about threats to
health of the U.S. economy by what is happening in Asia and Brazil; the
threats to U.S. security posed by Iraq, Iran, and North Korea; and the
peril represented by a collapsing Russia and an emerging China -- all
important parts of the people's business -- all remain pretty much on
hold, while the trial drags on." -- Dan Rather commentary on CBS.com,
January 25, 1999.
-- ABC legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin: "This may not be the final chapter. Kenneth Starr is still investigating.
He is weighing whether to indict President Clinton on these facts, so it
is worth keeping in mind whether an
actual jury, not a Senate jury, may yet hear the same evidence."
Peter Jennings: "But just so that you don't terrify people
altogether, Jeffrey, this is going to be the last of the Senate impeachment
trial this week as far as we know."
Toobin: "That's right. This national nightmare is over. We'll see
if there's another one." -- ABC News coverage of final arguments,
-- "You know who the hero of this whole thing is, it's that guy,
what was his name, Richard Llamas, the guy who stood up in the Senate
gallery last week and said, 'Good God vote and get over with this, will
you.' If they had stretched this out for another two
or three weeks, which if they would have had the kind of witnesses Bob
[Novak] wanted to have, I want to tell you something, I think the people
may have stormed the United States Capitol." -- Wall Street Journal
Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt on a CNN Capital Gang special,
END Reprint of Media Reality Check
Hillary Clinton is scheduled to appear on Rosie
O'Donnell's syndicated daytime TV show today, if it hasn't already
aired in your market. Her program runs in the Washington, DC area at 3pm
on WRC-TV. -- Brent Baker
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