"Shiite" Florida House; Bush
"Scared" & Scolded for Recession Talk; Race Card Raised;
Felon Voting Ignored; Gore Goaded to Hit Harris
1) Margaret Carlson on the
Florida legislature picking electors: A Newt Gingrich-like "Shiite
2) Veteran reporters over the weekend questioned George
Bush's readiness. Steve Roberts argued: "It's almost as if
he's scared to be President." David Shribman wondered whether
Cheney is "going to be the President." Alan Murray piped in
the joke that "when Mr. Cheney went into the hospital...Governor
Bush was just a heartbeat away from the presidency."
3) Bush scolded for daring to suggest an economic
downturn is underway. CNN's Wolf Blitzer: "Could this kind of be
a self-fulfilling prophesy if they're talking so gloomily?"
ABC's Cokie Roberts chastised: "Is it dangerous for him to be
talking about something like this in his position?"
4) "There is growing evidence that" black
"ballots were far more likely to be discounted than those of white
voters," declared ABC's Carole Simpson. ABC and NBC each focused
on a victim as ABC's Jami Floyd claimed "some cite intimidation
5) The broadcast networks ignored a Friday Miami Herald
story about how at least 445 felons, 75 percent of whom were registered
Democrats, voted, but on Sunday ABC jumped on a Herald piece which
speculated about how one professor guessed Gore would have won a
flawless Florida election by 23,000 votes.
6) "Results-Oriented Journalism: Distinguished or
narrow-minded?" In a National Review Online piece the MRC's Tim
Graham showed how a Time reporter described conservative Supreme Court
justices as anti-individual rights but liberal justices as independent,
individualistic, and sensitive to the needs of real people.
7) Lesley Stahl goaded Al Gore on 60 Minutes: "You
have to be angry at what's happening. I mean you do think you won the
election don't you?...C'mon. What about Katherine Harris. Weren't
you angry at her?" The New York Post reported some media outlets
are trying to dig up dirt on Harris.
a Shiite move down there" which is "like Newt Gingrich
revisited," Time's Margaret Carlson declared in denouncing the
proposal of the Florida legislature to ensure its state has electors. On
CNN's Capital Gang on Saturday Carlson asserted:
"You know, it's
like Newt Gingrich revisited. Why they would want to go out and before
they need to, to cast a vote to disenfranchise people in their own state
is beyond me. It's a Shiite move down there, really."
Bob Novak soon lectured her: "I'm disappointed,
Margaret, that you just called it Shiite, that you didn't call it
Bolshevik, Nazi, Fascist, whatever you want to call it. If you want to
read the Constitution, which I try to read every morning -- right on my
dresser, and you will find that the Constitution does give the legislature
the power to name the electors."
Washington reporters suggested over the weekend that by delegating public
duties to Dick Cheney, George Bush has shown he may not be ready to be
President. On CNN"s Late Edition Steve Roberts argued: "It's
almost as if he's scared to be President." David Shribman, on
PBS's Washington Week in Review, contended by staying in Crawford Bush
had raised the question whether he "is going to be President or
whether the Vice President's going to be the President." Alan
Murray piped in the joke that "when Mr. Cheney went into the hospital
that Governor Bush was just a heartbeat away from the presidency."
-- Steve Roberts of U.S. News & World Report on
CNN's December 3 Late Edition sandwiched into a break in the Gore
contest hearing in Tallahassee:
he's [Gore] come out I think he's reminded a lot of people why they
don't like him. You know, he can be awfully pedantic and awfully
insufferable. But I don't think George Bush has done very well either. I
think he's come across as weak, this sort of incredibly shrinking
candidacy. It raises again these questions -- is this guy really ready?
It's almost as if he's scared to be President."
-- PBS's Washington Week in Review on Friday
night. Boston Globe Washington Bureau Chief David Shribman suggested:
themselves raised the possibility, with the Governor himself in Crawford
on the ranch, and the presumptive Vice President running things. It's
raised the question around here a little bit about who actually is in
charge and whether the Governor is going to be President or whether the
Vice President's going to be the President."
Michael Duffy of
Time: "I do think we're kind of ready to call Dick Cheney the
President-elect, the Vice President-elect even if we're not ready-"
Wall Street Journal
Washington Bureau Chief Alan Murray cut in: "Someone made the joke
when Mr. Cheney went into the hospital that Governor Bush was just a
heartbeat away from the presidency at that point."
Bush may be overwhelmed by the presidency according to some reporters, but
others assigned him tremendous power to influence the economy, so they
scolded him for daring to suggest, while Clinton-Gore are still in office,
that an economic downturn may have already begun.
On CNN's Late Edition on Sunday Wolf Blitzer asked
his roundtable: "One thing that Dick Cheney did say earlier today on
Meet the Press, and Andy Card said it on a couple of shows, is that the
country seems to be heading towards a recession, an economic turndown. As
if in effect they're saying well this would be Bill Clinton's
recession. There have been some negative economic indicators, including
the markets which have not been good lately, but could this kind of be a
self-fulfilling prophesy if they're talking so gloomily about that right
On ABC's This Week, Cokie Roberts reprimanded
chief-of-staff designate Andy Card: "We heard in this little clip of
Governor Bush that we just saw, him talking about a possible economic
slowdown. Is that something he's foreseeing and is it dangerous for him
to be talking about something like this in his position?"
the race card. ABC and NBC provided a preview over the weekend of the next
round of litigation liberals will use to undermine the legitimacy of a
Bush presidency. Both networks dedicated stories to charges that though
voting by blacks was up 65 percent in Florida from 1996, blacks were more
likely to be disenfranchised than whites through clerical errors, which
left them off voting rolls, or more insidious problems. Without citing any
evidence, ABC's Jami Floyd claimed "some cite intimidation by
Neither story explored the rationale for any such
discrimination given that most blacks live in jurisdictions controlled by
Democrats who want their votes and, if there were problems, wouldn't
Democratic officials be responsible for most of them, often black
ABC anchor Carole Simpson introduced a Sunday,
December 3, World News Tonight story: "Tonight the Justice Department
is gathering information about alleged voting irregularities in Florida.
Last month African-American voters turned out in record numbers at
Florida's polls, but tonight there is growing evidence that their
ballots were far more likely to be discounted than those of white
Reporter Jami Floyd opened with some clips from
Jesse Jackson in Florida, including one in which Jackson argued:
"Mostly in black precincts you will find people in long lines and the
polls close on them."
Floyd explained that affidavits are being collected
from minorities who were denied the ability to vote. Floyd highlighted a
victim: "Voters like Janice Kelly, a former Army Sergeant, who was
turned away from three different polling places because a local board of
elections did not tell her where to vote."
Kelly: "When we
got there it was one person inside voting in the church and we were
advised that it was too late, that they had already shut the machines off
so we couldn't vote there either. We were basically out of luck."
Maybe she should have taken the personal
responsibility to figure it out in advance.
Floyd noted how there was a 65 percent increase in
black voting this year over 1996 in Florida, with 90 percent voting for
Gore, before she continued with her anecdotes: "A number of
African-Americans say they were turned away at the polls, their names were
not found on the voting rolls and some cite intimidation by police. In
addition, a report in today's Washington Post finds that
African-American neighborhoods in Florida lost many more presidential
votes than other areas because of outmoded voting machines, and rampant
confusion about ballots. But according to the report, as many as one in
three ballots in black sections of Jacksonville did not count in the
She allowed a local canvassing member to insist all
voters were treated equally before she raised the great civil rights
struggle: "It was not that long ago that the right to vote was a
galvanizing issue for blacks in the civil rights movement protesting poll
taxes and literacy tests. Congressman John Lewis was a part of that
Viewers heard from Lewis as well as Shelby Steele,
who maintained there's no evidence of a pattern of racial
discrimination. Floyd concluded by countering Steele: "But under the
law it's not intent but a discriminatory effect that matters and many
black voters are saying it's clear that disproportionate number of black
Floridians were not able to vote."
The night before, on Saturday's NBC Nightly News,
Kerry Sanders highlighted his own black victim: "Denise DeSouza is a
lawyer accustomed to complicated legal nuances. By any comparison voting a
simple process for her. But when she went to vote three weeks ago, even
with the voter registration card in her hand, she says she was told she
was not registered and could not vote."
Sanders cited claims that there were "hundreds
of disenfranchised voters" as "the NAACP says its analyzed the
problem and found a disturbing trend."
Victor Curry, Dade
County NAACP: "All of them have just one thing in common: mostly
black precincts. Accident? I don't think so."
Sanders reported that most of the problems were
related to names not on registration lists, but he noted it also occurred
in non-minority areas such as Orlando where the motor vehicle bureau did
not properly pass along those it registered to vote.
broadcast networks ignored a Friday Miami Herald front page story about
how at least 445 felons, 75 percent of whom were registered Democrats,
voted on November 7, but on Sunday ABC jumped on another Herald front page
piece which speculated about how, if the election were flawless, one
professor guessed Gore would have won Florida by 23,000 votes.
Friday night FNC's Brit Hume picked up on the
December 1 Miami Herald story by David Kidwell, Phil Long and Geoff
Dougherty. An excerpt:
At least 445 Florida felons voted illegally on Nov. 7, casting another
cloud over a disputed presidential election already mired in legal
challenges, a Herald investigation has found.
The tainted votes -- found in a review of nearly half a million votes
cast in 12 Florida counties -- provide evidence that the presidential race
was influenced by thousands of ineligible voters. Nearly six million
voters in Florida's 67 counties cast ballots.
They also point out the failure of Florida's multimillion-dollar effort
to prevent election fraud by eliminating dead and illegal voters from the
The majority of the illegal votes -- 330 -- were cast in Palm Beach and
Duval counties, which decided not to participate in the statewide effort
this year to purge felons, dead people and double registrants from the
Elections supervisors in those counties argue the state database
compiled by the Florida Division of Elections, at a price of $4 million,
was peppered with errors and mismatches....
The lapses in Palm Beach and Duval counties could become significant if
Democrats win any of their legal challenges and take the narrow lead away
from Republican Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Nearly 75 percent of the
illegal ballots discovered by The Herald were cast by registered
Since 1868, it has been illegal for felons to cast ballots in Florida,
one of 14 states with an arduous paperwork process for felons to have
their rights restored. The provision has prompted a federal lawsuit by
civil rights groups who allege it is discriminatory against blacks.
The Herald found 62 robbers, 56 drug dealers, 45 killers, 16 rapists
and seven kidnappers who cast ballots. At least two who voted are pictured
on the state's online registry of sexual offenders....
END Excerpt of Miami Herald story
To read the whole story, go to:
Having skipped that story, on Sunday night ABC's
World News Tonight highlighted another Herald front page story. Anchor
Carole Simpson explained: "With that clock running, a story that ran
in the Miami Herald today has added fuel to the debate. The story asserts
that Al Gore would have won the presidency by 23,000 votes if -- and it is
a major if -- all of the uncounted votes in Florida followed the same
trend as the votes that have been counted."
Bill Redeker showed clips of the story being raised
on Meet the Press and Face the Nation before he outlined the speculation: "The hypothetical results, reported by
Florida's biggest daily, give Gore the victory here if every one of
185,000 uncounted votes were counted. No hanging chads, no double-punches
or failed punches."
He ran soundbites from Doug Hattaway of the Gore
team and Bush's Tucker Eskew as Redeker noted how exit polls nationally
showed one million voted for on purpose for neither Bush or Gore. Redeker
discounted that: "Still, the professor who crunched the numbers for
the story says, even if 90 percent of voters whose ballots were discarded
actually intended to skip the race, Gore still would have won by 1400
Arizona State University: "The reason why it was tilted towards Gore
in the uncounted is there's clearly a higher incidence of uncounted
ballots among precincts that tended to favor the Vice President."
"While some statisticians question the premise of the study, others
say the end result appears to be perfectly reasonable. But there is no
such thing as a perfect election. As one political analyst put it, in our
system would of, could of, should of, doesn't count."
But it seems to count to the news media.
To read the Sunday Miami Herald story, "If the
Vote Were Flawless," go to:
"Results-Oriented Journalism: Distinguished or narrow-minded?"
That's the title of a new posting on National Review Online by Tim
Graham, Director of Media Analysis at the MRC, about how the media apply
labels to Supreme Court justices. To read the piece online, go to:
Here's an excerpt from Graham's piece, joined in
In reporting on Friday's Supreme Court arguments, readers can find two
methods of court labeling. Either the Court is a distinguished body of
balancing ideological views, or it's a frightening contrast of
narrow-minded ultraconservatives and centrist individualists. For the
objective way to do this, a reader could consult U.S. News & World
Report this week, where Ted Gest's descriptive capsules reasonably
balanced a conservative bloc on the court with a liberal bloc. But Gest
also correctly noted that the conservative "advocates limiting
federal powers" generally, while the liberals disappoint
conservatives "by consistently backing federal powers." Gest
could inspire quibbles for protesting that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is
"not an automatic liberal vote" (which conservative is
"automatic" in a crude political sense?), and that Stephen
Breyer "stakes out centrist positions on many issues" (really?),
but overall, he's fair and adequately precise.
For a more traditional, more prejudiced method of court labeling see
Time.com, where reporter Jessica Reaves found a rigid, constipated
conservative bloc, which doesn't much like individual rights:
-- "Rehnquist is a strict constructionist (he interprets the Constitution
in very narrow terms) who leans conservative."
-- "Scalia favors a very strict reading of the Constitution and has attempted repeatedly to strike down Roe v.
-- "Thomas has earned a reputation as a conservative, in part for his
very narrow reading of individual rights under the Constitution. He
opposes affirmative action and Roe v. Wade, supports limited power for the
Supreme Court and opposes the view that the Constitution is designed 'to
address all of the ills in our society.'"
By contrast, Reaves suggested the liberal bloc of the court cannot be
dismissed as predictably liberal, but are independent, individualistic,
and sensitive to the needs of real people, as opposed to "hypertechnical"
-- "A true independent, Stevens can be unpredictable in his opinions,
but he always considers the effects of a ruling on society.
Tends to defer to Congress as a decision-making body,
and downplays the authority of the courts."
-- "Souter has emerged as the Court's most influential moderate,
often working with Sandra Day O'Connor to establish a centrist
-- "Ginsburg is well known for her commitment to striking down laws
that treat men and women differently; Clinton called her 'the Thurgood
Marshall of gender equity law.' She shares Justice Breyer's conviction
that law should serve the individual."
-- "Breyer is seen as a pragmatist who often takes issue with
Justices Scalia and Thomas's narrow view of constitutional rights,
preferring to consider the impact of law on the lives of everyday people.
Rose to prominence and gained respect of congressional Republicans after
deconstructing extremely complex deregulation guidelines for the airline
Granted, Reaves at least acknowledged the existence of a liberal bloc
on the court, but you wouldn't seem too concerned about their judicial
activism from these sentences, as opposed to those "very strict"
judges that sound like they'd rule to ruin all your fun.
Reaves is solidly in the mainstream of court reporting, which from
NPR's Nina Totenberg to USA Today's Joan Biskupic to Linda Greenhouse of
the New York Times, clearly favors the "people-oriented vision"
of Joseph Brennan's heirs to the Borkian sourpusses of strict
constructionism. But if journalists are concerned with accuracy more than
partisanship, they should ask: Is it accurate to suggest that the
conservatives are statists who are usually hostile to individual rights
while liberals are more broadly libertarian?
The Constitution was designed not to limit individual rights, but to
protect them against encroachments by the state. Justice Thomas does not
have a "very narrow reading of individual rights under the
Constitution." He has a very narrow reading of government's power
under the Constitution, which leads to a broad reading of individual
rights. Reporters won't say the court's liberal bloc has a "very
expansive" view of the Constitution as a "living document"
which can change based on the latest poll. But conservatives' claim to
defend individual liberty is treated with skepticism. In her Scalia
paragraph, Reaves puts Scalia's reverence for liberty in quotes: he
"often argues that the law's primary role is to protect 'the
liberties of the people' from the unchecked powers of any of the three
Liberal media bias suggests that only some liberties matter. Property
rights are much less important than abortion rights, the rights of
religious conservatives are much less important than the rights of
gay-left activists, and the rights of crime victims mean less than the
rights of criminal defendants. Liberals prefer results-oriented
jurisprudence, and what the public gets from the media is results-oriented
journalism -- that sees the justices' love of liberty based on how
favorably they rule on abortion, homosexuality,
and capital punishment.
No veteran court watcher wants to lay down the Benjamins on how the
court will rule on the Florida supreme court's crackling smackdown of
Katherine Harris, but one variable at the Supreme Court is an easy bet.
Reporters will continue to suggest that the liberal bloc of the court is
less partisan, less ideological, less activist, less statist (!), and more
Stahl goaded Al Gore on 60 Minutes Sunday night: "You have to be
angry, you have to be angry at what's happening. I mean you do think you
won the election don't you?" She suggested someone he should be mad
at: "C'mon. What about Katherine Harris. Weren't you angry at
Stahl's solicitation of an attack on Florida
Secretary of State Katherine Harris came two days after the New York
Post's "Page Six" reported several media outlets are trying to
dig up dirt on Harris.
An excerpt from the December 1 item, "Media
Gang Out to Smear Harris," by Richard Johnson with Paula Froelich and
Reporters at the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek and CNN
are scrambling frantically to find something -- anything -- they can use
against Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who certified the
state's voting tally in favor of George W. Bush. But they are coming up
Harris, who has been attacked over her lipstick and make-up, was said
to be prepared for what she views as Democratic dirty tricks aimed at
The Al Gore camp denies it is behind the bogus rumors about Harris....
An investigative reporter for a news weekly said, "These rumors,
fueled by interested partisans, have been flying for weeks. I'd be
derelict in my duty if I didn't look into them, but there is nothing
Harris, 43, has been happily married since 1996 to wealthy Swedish-born
businessman Anders Ebbeson, 55.
"They did the same thing to Linda Tripp," said Lucianne Goldberg, publisher of lucianne.com.
"If you can't find anything on a woman, make fun of the way she
looks. If that doesn't stick, start a phony sex rumor because it's like
"You can't make it go away. You can't prove a negative. They are
ganging up on her even though there isn't one bit of evidence."
The media "investigations" of Harris have conservative women
up in arms.
Laura Ingraham, the comely author of "The Hillary Trap: Looking
for Power in all the Wrong Places" (Hyperion), said, "Now let me
get this straight, the left-leaning deep thinkers in the media are now in
favor of the politics of personal destruction?
"They, just like sensitive Al, only applaud a certain type of girl
power -- the kind exercised by women who agree with them. Katherine Harris
is an attractive, rich, and gutsy Republican who isn't impressed by the
sanctimonious jabs of the media -- so, of course, the press is out to get
For the whole item, go to:
http://www.nypost.com/12012000/gossip/pagesix.htm -- Brent Baker
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