SC Handing Election to Their Party; Florida Ruling Showed No "Split" or "Divide" Like the U.S. High Court
1) George Stephanopoulos
accused the U.S. Supreme Court of jumping "right into the middle of
a political dispute in a way that will hand the election to the party of
the person that appointed them." Steve
Roberts asserted the court "appeared to be acting for partisan
motives to protect George Bush from those votes being counted. I think
they've done themselves a lot of damage."
2) CBS News anchor John Roberts: "Some people have
suggested that the court has shown itself to be nothing more than a
political entity in it's splitting along at least ideological if not
3) The Florida Supreme Court's 4-3 ruling was not
"split" or "divided" according to New York Times and
Washington Post headlines, but the headlines in those papers the next
day applied those caveats to the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling.
4) The NBC Nightly News devoted a story to how blacks in
Duval County have "a lingering question: what happened to their
votes?" But every voter, black and white, got the same ballot.
George Stephanopoulos and Steve Roberts to the list of reporters on TV
shows over the weekend denouncing the Supreme Court's Saturday stay
order. (The December 10 CyberAlert
detailed the Saturday talk show comments from Nina Totenberg, Evan Thomas,
Al Hunt and Margaret Carlson.)
On Sunday's This Week, Stephanopoulos, who now
serves as both an analyst and a reporter for ABC News shows, accused the
U.S. Supreme Court of hypocrisy for violating its "federalism"
mantra and has "jumped right into the middle of a political dispute
in a way that will hand the election to the party of the person that
On CNN's Late Edition, Steve Roberts asserted the
court "appeared to be acting for partisan motives to protect George
Bush from those votes being counted. I think they've done themselves a
lot of damage." When it was pointed out that two Republican
appointees opposed the stay order, Roberts insisted: "It just showed
that they had some independence."
-- George Stephanopoulos during the roundtable on
the December 10 This Week: "Absent a ringing endorsement of manual
counts, which I don't think you're going to see from this Supreme
Court, it probably is over for Al Gore. But what does this say about the
Supreme Court? I mean this Supreme Court which has said, you know, we
believe in federalism, we believe in state sovereignty, we believe in
judicial restraint has overturned a state law, a state court interpreting
state law and it's jumped right into the middle of a political dispute
in a way that will hand the election to the party of the person that
-- Steve Roberts, a former New York Times reporter
now with U.S. News, during the roundtable on CNN's Late Edition: "I
think they've made a big mistake. Scalia said that, in his comment, that
one of the reasons for staying the count was to avoid creating a cloud
over the Bush campaign. I think he's done exactly the opposite. I think
staying the count has created the cloud. We saw all those pictures of the
voters, of the counting yesterday, those votes are not counted. The
Supreme Court is creating a cloud over a Bush presidency because those
votes were not counted."
Roberts added: "There's so much hypocrisy
here. You had the Republicans attacking the Florida Supreme Court
vociferously, four to three, a Democratic court, justices appointed by
Democratic Governors, you know doing the work of Gore campaign. Turns
around, five justices appointed by Republicans, operating in a clearly
political and partisan manner, and suddenly this is wonderful, this is
justice at work."
Host Wolf Blitzer
pointed out: "Two of those Republican appointed justices voted on the
Roberts decided that
meant they show "independence" as he replied: "It just
showed that they had some independence. Look, I think there's a lot of
damage to the court, I agree with you, and I think the court increased it
by what they did yesterday because they appeared to be acting along
partisan lines, they appeared to be acting for partisan motives to protect
George Bush from those votes being counted. I think they've done
themselves a lot of damage."
night on the CBS Evening News, anchor John Roberts proposed to legal
analyst Jonathan Turley: "Some people have suggested that the court
has shown itself to be nothing more than a political entity in it's
splitting along at least ideological if not partisan lines. Has the
court's credibility been diminished at all here?"
Turley agreed with the liberal criticism: "I
think it has in the eyes of many because of the stay. The question is why
give the stay if you're going to resolve this in a matter of days. It
looked like you had five justices that were rushing in to sort of muscle
through a conclusion. That's unfortunate. I think that many people will
have a lingering question about whether this is partisanship that's
being revealed in these decisions."
Florida Supreme Court's 4-3 ruling was not "split" or
"divided," but the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision deserved
such caveats. Compare and contrast the New York Times and Washington Post
headlines on Saturday and Sunday, December 9 and 10:
-- New York Times, in all caps in two lines across
the width of the front pages.
"FLORIDA COURT BACKS RECOUNT;
BUSH APPEALING TO U.S. JUSTICES"
"SUPREME COURT, SPLIT 5-4, HALTS
FLORIDA COUNT IN BLOW TO GORE"
-- Washington Post, also in two lines across the
entire width of the top of the front pages.
"Fla. Supreme Court Orders
Partial Recount Across State"
"Divided U.S. Supreme Court
Orders Freeze on Fla. Count"
the race card and seeming to imply that black voters in one Florida county
were a lot dumber than white voters. Sunday's
NBC Nightly News ended with a piece by Kerry Sanders on how many more
votes by black than white voters were disallowed in Jacksonville.
Sanders began his
December 10 piece by noting that among a Baptist Church's membership
there's "a lingering question: what happened to their votes?"
Sanders explained how 27,000 ballots in Jacksonville's black precincts
were disallowed, as many as 1 in 3 in some precincts, compared to 1 in 14
in white areas. After a soundbite from local Congresswoman Corrine Brown,
Sanders blamed the ballot design:
officials here admit the ballots themselves may have caused confusion.
Instructions on the sample ballots mailed to every voter said 'vote all
pages.' The sample showed all ten candidates for President on one page,
but the election day ballot was different. Page one had only five
candidates for President, page two had the other five [video shot of
ballot page with instruction to "Turn Page" above arrow and text
reading "to continue voting"]. Anyone who voted on all pages as
instructed ended up voting twice in the presidential race. That's called
an over-vote. The Justice Department is now looking into the vote
irregularities in Florida." Sanders
allowed a local canvassing board member to deny any differing treatment
for blacks before he concluded by recalling how a Baptist minister raising
the subject is a veteran of civil rights fights.
But all voters in the entire county had the same
ballot, so it's pretty irresponsible to give credibility to the issue of
racial discrimination just because some didn't realize you can only vote
for one candidate for President.
-- Brent Baker
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