CBS: 'Substance Abuse'? People Think McCain War Injuries 'Funny'? --5/27/2008
2. ABC's GMA Again Touts Obama-Clinton 'Dream Ticket'
3. Olbermann: 'Awol' McCain 'Supporting Himself Instead of Troops'
4. Where's Memorial Day Coverage of Our Soldiers' Achievements?
5. CNN Creates Sunday Show for Liberal Journalist Fareed Zakaria
6. Toobin Decries McCain for 'Appealing to the Hard Right' on Judges
7. Reminder: Bush Won in Florida Recounts Conducted by the Media
8. Dern 'Devastated' by Florida 'Because There Were Uncounted Votes'
9. Weirdest Moment in HBO Film: 'Jennings & Brokaw Have Bald Spots!'
The night after ABC's World News raised the possibility John McCain's POW ordeal caused "psychological damage," on Friday's CBS Evening News Dr. Sanjay Gupta thought it noteworthy that the release of McCain's medical records ignored the Senator's "mental health," any "mention of post-traumatic stress disorder" or of "substance abuse." Oddly, Dr. Jon LaPook asserted that "people" notice McCain is "not able to raise his arm" and think "'doesn't that look funny?'" Who thinks McCain's limitation, caused by an attack on him after his plane crashed in North Vietnam and he was denied medical care, looks funny? In what circles does CBS's doctor travel?
From Fountain Hills, Arizona, CNN's Gupta, identified by Katie Couric as "a CBS News contributor" and on-screen as "contributing medical correspondent," marveled: "What I didn't see I thought was interesting, as well. There was hardly any mention of his mental health. There was no mention of depression. You know, this is man who had two admittedly weak suicide attempts when he was a prisoner of war. There was no mention of post-traumatic stress disorder or anything that may have been asked, or substance abuse, none of that was even mentioned."
LaPook, from the anchor desk, checked in: "And people think, well, he's not able to raise his arm and 'doesn't that look funny?' Well, you know something, we should all remember that one of the greatest Presidents ever was in a wheelchair."
That set up Couric to raise a subject not touched by ABC or NBC, how little the public knew at the time about the afflictions of FDR and President Kennedy. Gupta marveled: "It's amazing to think about that now. John F. Kennedy, the youngest President ever elected, was probably one of the sickest yet nobody knew that at the time."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
LaPook diagnosed McCain as healthy enough to run for President:
Knowing what I know, if he came to me as a patient, from what his doctors have said and from what I've seen in the records, and said, "should I run for President?", I'd say go for it, go ahead, because at the end of the day, as we get older, things are going to happen. You're going to have cancer developing potentially, you're going to have high blood and high cholesterol weighing in and maybe increasing of a chance of a heart attack or stroke. But at the same time, as you get older other good things happen like wisdom and experience. And I think you're always balancing the two of those things.
The May 23 CyberAlert posting, "ABC: McCain Psychologically Damaged? Suffer Dementia? Die Soon?" recounted:
Not waiting until the actual Friday release of John McCain's medical records, on Thursday's World News anchor Charles Gibson (who's 65) and Dr. Tim Johnson (who at 72 is older than McCain) speculated about McCain's health. Gibson wondered about "psychological damage" from his POW captivity. Assured there's no evidence of that, Gibson jumped to wonder how much longer McCain has to live, a question which led Johnson to warn, that while McCain may live another 16 years, there's a decent chance he'll develop "dementia."
Gibson asked: "There's also an enormous amount of medical records involving the time that he was in captivity in North Vietnam to check to see what physical damage he suffered and maybe what psychological damage." Johnson replied that Navy psychiatrists monitored McCain "for many years after his release. They found no evidence of any serious problem. And he strongly denies any symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder." Gibson pounced with a new line of fear: "But he's 71 years old. What do the actuarial tables say about a man who's 71 years old?" Johnson explained they say he should live to 87, but: "Much more difficult, of course, to predict any change in mental acuity. At age 71, there's about a 30 percent chance of developing serious memory loss or even dementia."
For the May 23 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
From the Friday, May 23 CBS Evening News, picking up after Gupta provided a rundown of McCain's health issues, such as cholesterol and his skin cancer treatments:
KATIE COURIC: Anything strike you as remarkable in terms of what you read today?
On Friday's Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer and guest George Stephanopoulos continued the ABC tradition of referring to an Obama/Hillary Clinton match-up as a "dream ticket." In an intro to the piece, Sawyer asked: "Will there be a Obama/Clinton dream ticket?" A few seconds later, she reiterated, "So, dream ticket?" Back on March 6, 2008, Sawyer giddily wondered about the "dream solution" of Clinton and Obama running together on a Democratic ticket. On February 1, GMA correspondent Kate Snow also mused about the possibility of a "dream ticket." See the March 7 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
And the February 4 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
Also, after giving prominent play to a story on Thursday that accused John McCain of close ties to a reverend harshly critical of Islam, Good Morning America on Friday allowed only 50 seconds for the senator's rejection of those charges. The Republican presidential candidate has distanced himself from Reverend Rod Parsley and his comments about the Muslim faith. However, GMA featured only a brief discussion between Sawyer and Stephanopoulos on Friday.
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
There was no story, news briefs or even sound bites of McCain, who just didn't reject the support of Parsley and another reverend, he also refuted attempts to draw a comparison between his situation and that of Barack Obama and Reverend Jeremiah Wright. This is a quote the network didn't see fit to share: "I've never been in Pastor Hagee's church or Pastor Parsley's church. I didn't attend their church for 20 years, and I'm not a member of their church. I received their endorsement, which did not mean that I endorsed their views." See L.A. Times: www.latimes.com
Perhaps the reason the morning show ignored this is that Thursday's report attempted to subtly connect the pastor situations. Sawyer, in an intro to the Brian Ross investigation, asserted the piece was "about the new pastor problems plaguing another presidential hopeful." The Web version of the segment falsely labeled Parsley as the "McCain Pastor."
A transcript of the May 23 segment, which aired at 7:07am follows:
SAWYER: We're going to turn now to the race for '08. And the question rising again this morning: Will there be a Obama/Clinton dream ticket? Is one of the loudest voices calling for the union the former president? For the bottom line on all of this, we turn to chief Washington correspondent, host of "This Week," George Stephanopoulos. Good morning to you, George.
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann seemed to mock John McCain's military service as he quipped that McCain was "awol" for not showing up for a Senate vote on providing college tuition to American troops, and further accused McCain, whom he called "Senator 'I Support the Troops,'" of "supporting himself instead of the troops." The MSNBC host also mocked McCain as being at the "front lines" of a fund-raiser in California. Notably, just a few weeks ago, Olbermann thought it was amusing to scold Ann Coulter for making a crack about Barack Obama being a "Manchurian candidate" because it might remind people of McCain, even though it was Olbermann, not Coulter, who drew a connection as he observed that the film The Manchurian Candidate was about a "presidential election and an American war hero POW who'd been brainwashed in Southeast Asia."
[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
During the show's opening teaser, after Olbermann previewed stories about McCain's political association with controversial pastors John Hagee and Rod Parsley, the Countdown host continued: "On renouncing Rod Parsley, John McCain remains silent, as he does on the new GI bill. It passes the Senate. Obama, aye. Clinton, aye. McCain, awol. He didn't show up."
After getting to the story of the Senate vote, Olbermann charged: "Senator 'I Support the Troops' today supporting himself instead of the troops, but still managing to play political opportunism with one of his opponents who actually showed up for the vote."
After relaying to viewers that McCain and the Pentagon both oppose the current version of the GI bill because they "believe the full tuition benefit is too expensive, and that offering it after only three years of service would encourage service members to leave the military after just one enlistment," Olbermann played a clip of Obama criticizing McCain's opposition to the bill, accusing McCain of "political posturing" with regard to "giving our veterans the chance to go to college."
After reading McCain's statement reacting to Obama in which the Arizona Senator remarked that Obama "did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform," Olbermann came to Obama's defense as he mocked McCain as being at the "front lines" of a fund-raiser in California.
A few weeks ago, on the May 2 Countdown, Olbermann thought it amusing to scold Ann Coulter for calling Obama a "Manchurian candidate" suggesting that doing so would be disrespectful to McCain, even though it was Olbermann himself who made the comparison between The Manchurian Candidate and McCain: "Are you sure you want to go there when the movie The Manchurian Candidate was about a presidential election and an American war hero POW who'd been brainwashed in Southeast Asia?...Now, given who is in this year's presidential election, why on Earth would you or any conservative or Republican want to invoke The Manchurian Candidate and get people drifting off into the science fiction of POW presidential candidates who were brainwashed in Southeast Asia?"
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Thursday, May 22, and the Friday, May 2 Countdown show on MSNBC:
# From the May 22 Countdown:
KEITH OLBERMANN, IN OPENING TEASER: On renouncing Rod Parsley, John McCain remains silent, as he does on the new GI bill. It passes the Senate. Obama, aye. Clinton, aye. McCain, awol. He didn't show up.
OLBERMANN, AT 8:21 P.M.: The choice today for Senator John McCain having been a very simple one. He could have returned to his day job on Capitol Hill in order to support the troops by supporting a GI bill that would guarantee full college scholarships for those who serve in the military for three years, or he could travel to Silicon Valley to attend a $25,000 a couple luncheon to support his own campaign's bottom line. Our fourth story on the Countdown, Senator "I Support the Troops" today supporting himself instead of the troops, but still managing to play political opportunism with one of his opponents who actually showed up for the vote.
# From the May 2 Countdown:
KEITH OLBERMANN, IN OPENING TEASER: Worst Persons: Coultergeist didn't think this one through. "Is Obama a Manchurian candidate?" she asks. Are you sure you want to go there when the movie The Manchurian Candidate was about a presidential election and an American war hero POW who'd been brainwashed in Southeast Asia?
OLBERMANN, DURING WORST PERSON SEGMENT: But our winner is Coultergeist, and not for the reasons you would think when you hear her quote: "And I guess the question is, is Obama a Manchurian candidate to normal Americans who love their country, and he secretly agrees with the Weatherman and the Reverend Wright faction? Or is he being the Manchurian candidate to the traitor wing of the Democratic party?"
On Friday's Fox & Friends, Fox News military analyst Colonel David Hunt rattled off a series of U.S. and Iraqi achievements, then blasted the liberal media for failing to report them. "If you talk about success in Iraq, then you're somehow giving credit to McCain," Hunt surmised, "and I think it's wrong, because it does not give credit to the soldiers who have earned this, and we need to stop it."
Hunt noted that the Iraqi military and police have become more professional and are acting independently of U.S. forces, putting down a Shiite rebellion in the southern city of Basra; that an Iraqi force is stabilizing the Sadr City portion of Baghdad and the government has achieved a truce with radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr; al-Qaeda in Iraq is badly damaged and could lose its last stronghold in Mosul; and the successful campaign against al-Qaeda in Iraq has contributed to a 40 percent decline worldwide in deaths due to terrorism.
Yet, Hunt pointed out, "if it's not Abu Ghraib with 50 stories in the New York Times, no one in the press that I've heard -- besides here -- will even talk about success."
[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
A number of MRC studies bolster Hunt's point. In 2005, the big three broadcast networks offered heavy -- mainly negative -- coverage of the Iraq war. But after the 2007 U.S. troop surge began reducing violence and casualty levels dropped, the network coverage of the war dropped considerably. See: www.mrc.org
Going into the Memorial Day weekend, when the nation will pay its respects to those who have lost their lives in the service of their country, Hunt pleaded for the media to also acknowledge their incredible achievements. Here's a transcript of the May 23 segment that aired at about 8:25 Eastern time:
BRIAN KILMEADE: Coalition forces success, as we see there, in Iraq is growing. So why are so many in the media still focusing on the negatives? And, since John McCain says the surge is working, how does that impact his run for the White House? We're joined by Fox military analyst Colonel [David] Hunt, is still with us. Colonel, right now, when you look at the landscape there -- you're not one to get excited prematurely, especially when it comes to Iraq -- what intrigues you the most? What are you going to be looking for?
CNN has decided to give weekly, hour-long Sunday show to Fareed Zakaria, Editor of Newsweek International, whose writings and media appearances over the last few years peg him as a pretty conventional liberal on foreign and domestic policy. The AP's David Bauder reported Monday that "'Fareed Zakaria -- GPS,' which stands for 'global public square,' will air Sundays at 1 p.m. EDT and be rebroadcast at a yet-to-be determined time on CNN International." Bauder also noted that "Christiane Amanpour will be among the panelists to appear frequently."
Zakaria, author earlier this year of the book, The Post-American World," which contends the "era" of "'American exceptionalism' is over," snidely quipped in a 2005 Newsweek article: "As an Iraqi politician said to me, 'There are currently two Grand Ayatollahs running Iraq: Sistani and Bush. Most of us feel that Sistani is the more rational.'" A regular for several years on ABC's This Week, in 2006 Zakaria castigated a English as the official language bill as "nonsense" and "nativist populism that is distasteful." Back in 2004, he ridiculed President Bush's promise to usher in a "new responsibility era" as he concluded: "Whether he wins or loses in November, George W. Bush's legacy is now clear: the creation of a poisonous atmosphere of anti-Americanism around the globe. I'm sure he takes full responsibility."
On two domestic issues, Zakaria has come down solidly on the left. In 2003, he approached the proposed Bush tax cut from the left, claiming it's "mostly skewed to they very wealthy," and the year before he complained that putting the Justice Department on the side of those who believe the Second Amendment ensures an individual right to bear arms struck him as "constitutional fundamentalism" which "doesn't make any sense."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Zakaria's site: www.fareedzakaria.com
Bauder's AP dispatch, as posted by Yahoo: news.yahoo.com
Excerpts from articles quoting Zakaria in the MRC's archive:
May 6 CyberAlert item, "Newsweek Editor Declares Era of 'American Exceptionalism is Over,'" recounted:
NBC's Today show invited on Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria to promote his book, The Post-American World, on Monday's show and during his segment the author depicted the United States as a nation in decline as he declared the "era" of "'American exceptionalism' is over."
As examples of America's declining standing in the world the Newsweek editor cited such facts as China now having the "largest ferris wheel in the world," Minneapolis' "Mall of America" no longer being the largest in the world and Macau having surpassed Las Vegas in the size of their casinos.
June 28, 2006 MRC CyberAlert posting, "Newsweek's Zakaria: Amnesty for Those Who Killed U.S. Soldiers," reported:
During the roundtable on Sunday's This Week with George Stephanopoulos on ABC, Fareed Zakaria, Editor of Newsweek International and a columnist for the domestic edition, declared he was going to say "something controversial," that Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki's amnesty proposal "has to include amnesty for insurgents." Zakaria contended that "as we grieve for any American who has lost his life, any family member who has lost a loved one, the reality is what you need to end an insurgency is a political track" to give amnesty to those who "have attacked Iraqi or American forces." ABC White House correspondent Martha Raddatz said that she didn't see why that was controversial, just a required step. When Stephanopoulos suggested amnesty "makes sense," CNN anchor Lou Dobbs retorted that the idea "sticks in my craw."
Zakaria knows the idea is "controversial" because it will rub the American public the wrong way, but also because the Democrats on television (like Sen. Durbin minutes earlier on This Week) have made a strong pose against amnesty for insurgents.
The May 22, 2006 CyberAlert rundown, 'Top Journalists Denounce English as Official Language as 'Silly,'" began:
On the Sunday shows, three top journalists mocked and ridiculed the Thursday Senate vote to make English the official national language, and thus prevent demands for government agencies to provide official forms and processes in other languages. On ABC's This Week, Cokie Roberts dismissed it as "a very silly debate" and Fareed Zakaria, Editor of Newsweek International, castigated the bill as "nonsense" and "nativist populism that is distasteful." In his end of show commentary on Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer also derided the vote as "silly."
Criticizing Americas for speaking too few languages, Zakaria demanded: "What is the great problem in the United States?...That we speak too many foreign language languages, there are too many signs -- Americans are too multi-lingual? Have we forgotten what language we speak?" Zakaria soon charged: "It's a political football that has nothing to do with the real problem. It is simply one more way to try to assert a certain kind of nativist populism that is distasteful."
February 2, 2005 CyberAlert item, "Zakaria: W Less Rational Ayatollah, Stewart: Afraid Bush Right," recounted:
Prompting cheers from the audience, on Monday's Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria passed along how an Iraqi politician told him that "there are two Grand Ayatollahs running Iraq: Bush and Sistani -- and Sistani seems the more rational." Stewart, a Bush-bashing opponent of the war who has called John Kerry "my guy," admitted that his "great fear" is that if Bush "has been right about this all along I feel like my world view will not sustain itself and I may...implode." Stewart soon sarcastically suggested that the Bush team has "convinced themselves that the whole reason we went to Iraq was for the election, I don't think they even remember that there was a whole weapons thing." But Stewart also took a shot at Ted Kennedy: "He doesn't have great timing... Literally the night before the election he was like, [mimicking Kennedy] 'This will never work.'"....
He did indeed conclude an article, in the January 24 Newsweek, with the same anecdote he recounted on the Daily Show: "In the words of one of his [Sistani's] aides, 'the representation of our Sunni brethren in the coming government must be effective, regardless of the results of the elections.' As an Iraqi politician said to me, 'There are currently two Grand Ayatollahs running Iraq: Sistani and Bush. Most of us feel that Sistani is the more rational.'"
May 11, 2004 CyberAlert, "'Pictures Shred the Last Good Reason to Feel Righteous' on War," recited:
Time and Newsweek put the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal on their covers this week as pieces inside the magazines denounced how the Bush administration has conducted the war and turned the world against us and they blamed the abuse on the Rumsfeld-authorized notion that in a war on terrorists the Geneva Conventions cannot always be followed. Time's Nancy Gibbs, after pointing out how human rights became the reason for the war after WMD were not found, declared: "Psychologically, if not in fact, these pictures shred the last good reason to feel righteous about having gone to war." In Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria, a regular on ABC's This Week, ridiculed President Bush's promise to usher in a "new responsibility era" as he concluded, "Whether he wins or loses in November, George W. Bush's legacy is now clear: the creation of a poisonous atmosphere of anti-Americanism around the globe. I'm sure he takes full responsibility."
May 6, 2003 CyberAlert, "Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria Takes on Bush Tax Cuts from the Left," reported:
Fareed Zakaria, Editor of Newsweek International and now a regular on ABC's This Week, approached the proposed Bush tax cut from the left, claiming it's "mostly skewed to they very wealthy" and that the wealthy do not invest their tax cut in the economy: "The wealthy actually save those tax cuts whereas middle-class people spend them." Zakaria, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, made his comments on Sunday's syndicated Chris Matthews Show.
Zakaria asserted on the May 4 program carried by many NBC affiliates: "Well it's also the wrong kind of tax cut. I entirely agree that the economy is sluggish. It needs some kind of stimulus. This tax cut is essentially a tax cut mostly for the out-years, mostly skewed to they very wealthy. What you need is an immediate middle-class tax cut that would actually have some effect. But one has to point out this is not gonna make much of a difference. It's a $10 trillion economy. The oil prices dropping will probably be a greater stimulus."
May 13, 2002 CyberAlert "Gun Rights View 'Doesn't Make Any Sense,'" relayed:
Putting the Justice Department on the side of those who believe the Second Amendment ensures an individual right to bear arms strikes Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria as "constitutional fundamentalism" which "doesn't make any sense." On ABC's This Week, Cokie Roberts agreed: "I completely agree with Fareed that anything that makes it easier to get guns is a bad thing." But, Roberts conceded, "it's certainly not clear" that the amendment "only means the militia" were meant to own guns.
During the May 12 roundtable, co-host Sam Donaldson raised the subject of how the Bush Justice Department has changed the government's position on the Second Amendment to stand with those who believe it protects an individual's right. ABC displayed on screen the amendment's wording: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
Guest panelist Zakaria expressed concern: "It strikes me that one can become, we've seen religious fundamentalism, now you're going to have constitutional fundamentalism. You can interpret this various ways. It seems to me the phrase 'well-regulated' suggests somebody is allowed to regulate and that somebody is obviously the state. But if you go, it seems to me, beyond the constitutional issues, what is the fundamental security threat that American citizens face today it is that small groups and individuals nowadays can get access to bad kinds of weapons. In this climate, to be reversing a decades-long policy, to be reversing in effect the Reagan Justice Department, the Bush Senior Justice Department, to make it easier for people to get guns, just doesn't make any sense."
Appearing on PBS's Bill Moyers Journal Friday evening, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin boasted that the liberally-skewed HBO movie Recount was "based in part on my book, Too Close to Call," which postulated that Al Gore was the true winner in Florida. Toobin also regretted that John McCain was "appealing to the hard right" on judges, and he decried an Indiana law requiring voters to show identification as "a very clear attempt by Republicans to stop Democrats from voting."
Toobin blamed "four very conservative justices" for the Supreme Court decision affirming the constitutionality of Indiana's voter ID law:
JEFFREY TOOBIN: Well, I think they [the Supreme Court Justices] are going to do their best to stay out of the election, per se. They are not going to have many cases that deal directly with elections. But I think, for better or worse, the Justices are who they are. There are four very conservative Justices there. They decided a case about Indiana election law.
[This item was written for CyberAlert by the MRC's Rich Noyes.]
Earlier in the May 23 program, Toobin had bragged that HBO's Recount, which told the story of the 2000 Florida recount through liberal eyes, was based in part on his book. (Toobin also served as a consultant for the film.)
JEFFREY TOOBIN: Democrats are furious about Bush v. Gore. It remains the wounds that won't heal. This weekend HBO is doing a really terrifically entertaining movie version of that whole Florida struggle called Recount, based in part on my book, Too Close to Call. And in watching Democrats respond to that movie, you see the frustration, the anger, the lingering of bitterness about it. Republicans, like Antonin Scalia on 60 Minutes the other day, say, "Get over it."
When it came to the current election and its impact on the Supreme Court, Toobin left no doubt that he sees the issue through a liberal prism, condemning Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito as "part of the conservative movement" who have never once exhibited "evidence of moderation" in their three years on the court.
JEFFREY TOOBIN: If you look at George Bush's presidency, particularly his second term, what matters, the legacy he'll leave is the war in Iraq and John Roberts and Samuel Alito. And I think that's likely the case for the next President as well, that the war and the Supreme Court will be a big part of what the next President does.
With HBO's 'Recount' movie (which first aired Sunday and Monday night) sure to rekindle claims that Al Gore would have won if only the U.S. Supreme Court had not "stopped the counting," a reminder that both recounts conducted by major media outlets in 2001 determined George W. Bush would have won anyway. Two stars of the film have fueled the re-writing of history with actor Kevin Spacey, who plays Gore operative Ron Klain, charging that "the Bush people were trying to stop votes from being counted and the Gore people were just trying to get votes counted" while Laura Dern, who plays Katherine Harris, recalled that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling left her "devastated because there were uncounted votes." (See item #8 below)
The lead of an April 4, 2001 USA Today story headlined, "Newspapers' recount shows Bush prevailed," by reporter Dennis Cauchon:
George W. Bush would have won a hand count of Florida's disputed ballots if the standard advocated by Al Gore had been used, the first full study of the ballots reveals. Bush would have won by 1,665 votes -- more than triple his official 537-vote margin -- if every dimple, hanging chad and mark on the ballots had been counted as votes, a USA TODAY/Miami Herald/Knight Ridder study shows. The study is the first comprehensive review of the 61,195 "undervote" ballots that were at the center of Florida's disputed presidential election....
END of Excerpt
For the 2001 USA Today story: www.usatoday.com
That look was followed in November by an analysis by a consortium of media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN and AP. It determined that George W. Bush still would have won under either legally possible recount scenario which could have occurred: The Florida Supreme Court ordered recount of undervotes statewide or Gore's request for a re-count in certain counties. The New York Times led its November 12, 2001 front page article, "Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote," by reporters Ford Fessenden and John M. Broder:
A comprehensive review of the uncounted Florida ballots from last year's presidential election reveals that George W. Bush would have won even if the United States Supreme Court had allowed the statewide manual recount of the votes that the Florida Supreme Court had ordered to go forward.
Contrary to what many partisans of former Vice President Al Gore have charged, the United States Supreme Court did not award an election to Mr. Bush that otherwise would have been won by Mr. Gore. A close examination of the ballots found that Mr. Bush would have retained a slender margin over Mr. Gore if the Florida court's order to recount more than 43,000 ballots had not been reversed by the United States Supreme Court.
Even under the strategy that Mr. Gore pursued at the beginning of the Florida standoff -- filing suit to force hand recounts in four predominantly Democratic counties -- Mr. Bush would have kept his lead, according to the ballot review conducted for a consortium of news organizations....
END of Excerpt
For the New York Times article: www.nytimes.com
For the consortium's report: www.norc.uchicago.edu
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
In summarizing the consortium's findings, however, the November 13, 2001 MRC CyberAlert recounted CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather gave equal weight to a scenario which never could have occurred, a statewide re-count of all overvotes in which the intent of the voter would have been intuited, as to how Bush would still have won in the only legally possible scenario, a re-count of undervotes:
In the second half of the hour-long CBS Evening News on Monday night [November 12], Rather announced:
A consortium of news organizations today released their joint findings on the disputed Bush/Gore presidential election results from Florida. They suggest the limited hand re-count of votes requested by Democrat Al Gore would still have given Florida and the presidency to George W. Bush. But this study also found that if there had been a re-count of all disqualified ballots statewide it might have produced a narrow Gore victory.
As Monday's New York Times headline clearly stated, "Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast the Deciding Vote," but Rather failed to correct his earlier reporting. At the top of the CBS Evening News back on the December 13, 2000, Rather had declared:
Good evening. Texas Governor George Bush tonight will assume the mantle and the honor of President-elect. This comes 24 hours after a sharply split and, some say, politically and ideologically motivated U.S. Supreme Court ended Vice President Gore's contest of the Florida election and, in effect, handed the presidency to Bush.
Neither ABC's World News Tonight nor the NBC Nightly News, both of which remained the usual half-hour on a busy news day on Monday, mentioned the latest media effort at a Florida re-count.
The November 13, 2001 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
Asked by Howard Kurtz on Sunday's Reliable Sources how she felt, "as a citizen," when "the Supreme Court stepped in and essentially made George W. Bush President?", actress Laura Dern, who plays Katherine Harris in HBO's Recount film which premiered Sunday night, replied that "as a citizen, I felt devastated because there were uncounted votes" and "I left the experience with a real disillusionment about the process."
Dern's personal view echoing the liberal/Democratic spin on what occurred matches the take expressed Wednesday by actor Kevin Spacey, who plays Gore operative Ron Klain in the movie: "It does seem that on the one hand the Bush people were trying to stop votes from being counted and the Gore people were just trying to get votes counted." See the May 22 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
HBO's page for the movie: www.hbo.com
The exchange, in the pre-taped interview, aired Sunday morning on CNN where Dern appeared with the director of the movie, Jay Roach:
HOWARD KURTZ: Let me take you back to 2000. As a citizen, how did you feel when th Supreme Court stepped in and essentially made George W. Bush President?
HBO's 'Recount' movie which premiered Sunday night certainly lived up to the admission of actor Kevin Spacey, who played Gore operative Ron Klain, that it presented the 2000 Florida election aftermath through the eyes of the "underdog" Democrats fighting to "count every vote" despite being frustrated by Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris who was portrayed as an easily-manipulated dolt. But Tom Wilkinson as James Baker came off as an in-command strategist and the movie delivered some anti-Democratic points rarely heard in the news media:
First, Bob Balaban, as Bush-Cheney lawyer Ben Ginsberg, reacting to Gore-Lieberman campaign Chairman Bill Daley whose father was Mayor of Chicago in 1960: "His daddy stole it for JFK and now he's going to steal it for Gore." Second, from Wilkinson as James Baker: "Who knows how many votes we lost when the networks called Florida for Gore before all the polls were closed on election night."
But the weirdest moment came in a scene of a protest held outside the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee. A man, holding a Bush-Cheney sign, chanted: "Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw have bald spots! Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw have bald spots!"
Weird, but close to reality. In 'Down and Dirty: The Plot to Steal the Presidency,' the 2001 book by Jake Tapper now with ABC News, Tapper reported on page 139: "A guy with a sign saying 'God Made Bush President' appears. Another, hyping the Web site Newsmax.com, starts shouting out that 'Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw have bald spots.' This guy has a bald spot, too."
For details on how Bush really did win despite the implication of the movie that the U.S. Supreme Court blocked an accurate vote count, see #7 above.
The film was fun to watch if only for the archival footage from ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN (most of whose anchors and reporters -- Judy Woodruff, Bernard Shaw, Greta van Susteren and Bob Franken -- have moved on) on election night and afterward, including a reminder of Dan Rather's goofy "Danisms/Ratherisms."
HBO's page for the film: www.hbo.com
-- Brent Baker