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CyberAlert -- 11/15/2000 -- Harris Deadlines Denounced

Harris Deadlines Denounced; Democrats Just Want "To Get it Right"; Will Harris "Tarnish" Results?; Bush's Fox Mole -- Back to today's CyberAlert

1) This morning Gore lawyer David Boies was prompted to criticize Katherine Harris while Bush lawyer Ted Olsen was pressed to justify her deadlines. ABC's Charles Gibson: "But what the other side seems to be saying is it's more important to get it right than to meet a deadline." Bryant Gumbel worried she has "too much leeway" and has become "a King-maker."

2) "Is there some concern in the Bush camp," Katie Couric asked about the involvement of "Republican" Katherine Harris, that she "will tarnish the results?"

3) "What did George W. Bush know and when did he know it," asked Katie Couric in setting up a Today story on controversy over how a Fox News producer, who is also a cousin of George W. Bush's, fed exit poll data to the Bush campaign.


1

ABC and CBS Wednesday morning approached lawyers for Gore and Bush the same way as they acted as advocates of Gore's position against the deadlines set by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. ABC's Charles Gibson empathized with Gore lawyer David Boies: "Do you think that is complete or do you still hold out hopes that you can get a recount in Dade County?" But with Bush team lawyer Ted Olson he argued: "Why do we have to have so many deadlines from the Secretary of State? I mean, the critical thing here is to get a proper count." And he forwarded a Gore spin line: "But what the other side seems to be saying is it's more important to get it right than to meet a deadline."

Instead of challenging Boies, CBS's Bryant Gumbel tossed him an agreeable inquiry about whether he's "concerned that this ruling allows her too much leeway and in effect makes her a King-maker?" Minutes later, interviewing Olson, Jane Clayson made the GOP the bad guys prolonging the matter: "How far are you willing to take this? Are you willing, prepared to fight the Gore campaign to the bitter end?" She presented the Gore position in the best light: "The Gore campaign says the purpose of these hand recounts is to insure that every vote is counted, and that every Floridian has his or her voice heard."

> ABC's Good Morning America, November 15. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson took down Charles Gibson's questions. To Gore campaign attorney David Boies:
-- "The Secretary of State keeps setting deadlines. There's now this deadline that this all has to be, once the absentee ballots are counted, that this all has to be certified by this weekend. Can you get those delays, get those deadlines delayed so that hand counts can be completed in counties where they'll take a long time?"
-- "But do you get the feeling that the Secretary of State in Florida is going to certify some sort of a result on Saturday and that's it?"
-- "And do you think it's over in Dade County? They voted two to one last night not to conduct a recount in Miami. That's a huge area. Do you think that is complete or do you still hold out hopes that you can get a recount in Dade County?"

To Bush campaign attorney Theodore Olson, after asking him to react to what Boies said:
-- "But let me come back to Broward County, for instance, as an example. There they said, 'No, we're not going to conduct a recount because we have a legal opinion from the Secretary of State saying that hand recounts are not proper.' Now the propriety of that legal opinion has been called into sharp question, so they say they're waiting for a decision from the Florida Supreme Court as to whether they should go ahead with a hand recount."
-- "But why do we have to have so many deadlines from the Secretary of State? I mean, the critical thing here is to get a proper count. Now she's set a deadline of two o'clock this afternoon where they have to submit an essay as to why they want to conduct a hand recount and she wants to announce a final vote by Saturday, when counties that want a hand recount may not be able to finish by then."
-- "But what the other side seems to be saying is it's more important to get it right than to meet a deadline."

> CBS's The Early Show. MRC analyst Brian Boyd transcribed the questions posed. Bryant Gumbel to David Boies:
-- "Yesterday's ruling in effect extended the deadline for certification, why wasn't it simply ruled that way?"
-- "Okay, so now it seems we've traded a 5pm Tuesday deadline for a 2pm Wednesday deadline. A decision that Mr. Daley, I think, called inexplicable. Is it legal?"
-- "I know you don't have return video there, but I, I don't know if you've seen this morning's New York Daily News. They have a picture of Secretary of State Harris and the headline says, 'She Can Pick the President.' Are you at all concerned that this ruling allows her too much leeway and in effect makes her a King-maker?"
-- "Do you accept the imposition of any deadline at all for certification?"
-- "OK, what's that deadline?....So what's a reasonable deadline?"
-- "So there's no way you see this going up until say December 18, when the electors are supposed to meet?"
-- Gumbel finally offered a mild challenge to Boies: "But in all fairness, Mr. Boies, they could charge the same. I mean you're trying to force a recount in Broward County, you may wind up doing the same in Miami-Dade. What do you say to those people who say, hey, this should be between the candidates and the voters and you know lawyers have no place in this? You shouldn't be trying to force issues."

Jane Clayson to Bush lawyer Ted Olson:
-- "Governor Bush says he will appeal the decision that allowed the hand recounts in Florida. If you lose that appeal, will you take this case to the Supreme Court?"
-- "Increasingly the stalemate looks as if it will be resolved in the courts. Surely you must worry about the legal implications of that and maybe more importantly the public relations consequences. Do you?"
-- "But how far are you willing to take this? Are you willing, prepared to fight the Gore campaign to the bitter end?"
-- "Well, the Gore campaign says the purpose of these hand recounts is to insure that every vote is counted, and that every Floridian has his or her voice heard. What's your major objection to that?"
-- "Will Governor Bush request recounts in other states such as Iowa and Wisconsin?"
-- "When do you think we'll know who our next President is?"

2

Having relayed the Democratic personal attacks on Katherine Harris's character, the networks are now asking if her involvement will "tarnish" the results for Bush. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught this exchange on this morning's Today:
Katie Couric: "But very quickly, David, is there some concern in the Bush camp that putting it in her hands, a Republican, the co-chairperson of the Bush campaign in Florida will tarnish the results?"
David Gregory: "Well absolutely. There is no question that people are going to make a lot of, a big issue out of the fact that she is a Republican that she was the chairperson of his campaign in Florida. But they maintain that they are allowing every recount to go on within Florida state law. It's been counted and counted again and a third time, they don't think these manual recounts are fair and they're gonna keep making that case publicly."

3

Today jumped this morning on the media controversy over how a Fox News producer, who is also a cousin of George W. Bush, shared exit poll data with his cousin's campaign.

"While Florida continues to count votes a side controversy has emerged about election night," Katie Couric explained in introducing the full story observed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens. "What did George W. Bush know and when did he know it?"

Pat Dawson handled the story: "It was the climax of the tightest presidential election night ever. George W. Bush, it seemed the winner of Florida and the presidency....A call all the networks reverse less than two hours later....But before he was mistakenly declared the winner candidate Bush reportedly had inside information that one network was about to make the call in his favor. How? It turns out his first cousin was a pivotal player in the decision to call Florida for Bush at Fox News Channel. John Ellis was head of Fox News decision desk, helping the network decide which states to call for Bush and which for Vice President Gore."

Dawson continued: "And in a letter provided to NBC News, Ellis acknowledged he spoke frequently about the returns with his cousins George W. and Florida Governor Jeb Bush as they sweated out a long night in Austin."

Following a condemnatory comment from liberal media critic Tom Rosentiel, Dawson elaborated: "In this New Yorker magazine interview Ellis boasted about sharing the network's inside numbers with his cousins before they were made public, saying, 'They were elated. It was just the three of us handing the phone back and forth. Me with the numbers, one of them a Governor, the other the President-elect. Now that was cool.' Neither Ellis nor executives of Fox News would go on camera to comment. A Fox News spokesman said they didn't know whether Ellis had provided privileged information to the Bush campaign on election night but were investigating. Ellis worked for NBC News in the late '70s and '80s. But NBC News executives described him as a political researcher not involved in the decision making process on election night. The Bush cousin says he did nothing improper, that other Fox staffers were talking to Gore's staff and that no privileged exit poll data was given to either camp."

Another example of how the mainstream media can never find any bias amongst themselves but see it regularly with the Fox News Channel. -- Brent Baker


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