CyberAlert -- 11/15/2000 -- Harris Handing Election to Bush
Harris Handing Election to Bush; Boies Boosted; Baker's "Fear Stick"; Holocaust Invoked; Rivera's Back; ABC Pressuring Electors? -- Extra Edition
1) The networks Tuesday night, especially ABC and NBC, refused to call a judge a Democrat as they continued to serve as conduits for the Democratic effort to discredit Katherine Harris as a partisan hack. Linda Douglass: "Two Democratic legislators who praised her yesterday, told ABC News they now think she is trying to hand the election to George Bush."
4) NBC's Claire Shipman invoked the Holocaust for the Gore cause, passing along the claim that Lieberman is "encouraging Gore to keep fighting" because he was "quite moved by stories that Holocaust victims...may have voted for the wrong man."
5) One-fifth of Americans want the whole election done over again, a Dateline NBC poll discovered. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found most are willing to wait for a re-count, even if it takes several weeks.
6) CBS Gave a sentence to how "Republicans contend that the vote in the Milwaukee area was tainted by Democratic bribes of cigarettes to homeless voters and a college prank that saw some students vote more than once."
7) Geraldo's back in his game. Rivera denigrated lawyer Ted Olson as "a card-carrying member of the old anti-Clinton cabal" as he whined that "the same party that supported a reckless five-year-long wild goose chase into Bill Clinton's personal life is now" resisting "a full and fair re-count."
8) Federal Judge Donald Middlebrooks has contributed to Democrats since the late 1970s, the National Legal and Policy Center disclosed. Recipients included not only the Gore campaign, but Clinton back in 1991.
9) ABC News pressuring Bush electors to consider voting for Gore? A Denver newspaper related how elector Mary Hergert "said the caller said he was 'Ed from ABC News' and asked if she would ever consider voting for Al Gore, then said it is unconstitutional for her to be bound by state law to follow Colorado voters' preference for Bush."
The networks continued to serve Tuesday night as a conduit for the Democratic effort to discredit Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris as they focused again on her Republican partisanship while ignoring the Democratic status of state judge Terry Lewis who ruled Tuesday on her 5pm deadline decision. On the NBC Nightly News, for instance, David Bloom displayed the double standard: "Today, Tallahassee state court judge Terry Lewis ruled that Florida's Republican Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, was wrong to say...."
CBS refrained from passing along the Democratic spin during the CBS Evening News, but after Harris's 7:40pm ET announcement of certified vote totals which put Bush ahead by 300, Dan Rather alerted viewers during a CBS News special report: "Underscoring as has been the case before, but as a point of information, the Secretary of State is a Republican and was an active worker for George Bush and in the George Bush campaign. She did not recuse herself from her official position and, therefore, she has a lot to say and much control over this present situation."
Just before Harris spoke, ABC's Peter Jennings described her: "Katherine Harris, 43-years-old, a supporter of George W. Bush but deemed by many of her colleagues as a very fair woman."
Earlier, on ABC's World News Tonight, Linda Douglass profiled Harris and passed along partisan criticism: "Two Democratic legislators who praised her yesterday, told ABC News they now think she is trying to hand the election to George Bush."
Here's a rundown of her treatment Tuesday night, November 14, by ABC and NBC:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings referred to a ruling by an unnamed and unlabeled "circuit judge" on the 5pm deadline Harris said state law made clear. Jennings added: "The Gore campaign doesn't like the Republican Secretary of State, Katherine Harris. She will be under tremendous pressure for the next several days at least."
Later, Jennings went to Linda Douglass for her third look in 24 hours at Harris's partisanship as Douglass provided similar stories for an ABC Monday night special and Tuesday's Good Morning America. She noted that Republicans respect her, but "Democrats continued questioning Harris's motives. Two Democratic legislators who praised her yesterday, told ABC News they now think she is trying to hand the election to George Bush. Gore officials kept up the attacks."
Following a soundbite from Warren Christopher, Douglass ran through the Harris resume: "Harris was the state co-chair of George Bush's presidential campaign. Today Governor Jeb Bush said she's doing a good job." After a matching clip from Jeb Bush, Douglass came to her defense: "Political insiders say there is no evidence Harris is being manipulated by the Bush's. She is known to care deeply about her job which will abolished by law in 2002."
Douglass soon returned to Democratic attacks: "Democrats complain that Harris is keeping state Republicans in the loop as she makes her moves." Her defenders point out that she's following the advise of a law firm with ties to prominent Democrats, Douglass acknowledged before concluding: "Harris has only held statewide office for two years. She is not part of any political machine in the state, though people around here call her a good Republican. If her decision is seen as handing the presidency to George Bush, she will be a famous Republican too."
-- NBC Nightly News. David Bloom warned: "If Florida's top election official, a Republican, gets her wish this race will be over in four days."
Bloom reviewed the ruling by a judge who did not label, though he labeled Harris twice: "Today, Tallahassee state court judge Terry Lewis ruled that Florida's Republican Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, was wrong to say categorically that any late returns will not count. That's 'not the exercise of discretion,' Judge Lewis wrote, 'it is the abdication of discretion.' But, in what may be a huge legal victory for Governor Bush, Judge Lewis went on to say quote, 'the Secretary of State may ignore any such late filed returns, but may not do so arbitrarily.' Bottom line: Katherine Harris, a Republican, gets to decide what votes count."
Kelly O'Donnell later profiled Harris, calling
her a "Bush supporter" who is a multi-millionaire thanks to
family money. She was "criticized for spending taxpayer money on
a get out the vote spot with Bush supporter General Norman Schwarzkopf."
O'Donnell recalled how she once worked in real estate and for IBM
and though Jeb Bush backed another candidate for her job she
campaigned in New Hampshire for George Bush. O'Donnell concluded by
passing along attack material provided by Democrats:
After Harris made her 7:40pm ET announcement, Bloom asserted during an NBC News special report: "The Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, is far too polite or deferential to say this, but this is truly the Republicans in this state drawing a line in the sand. Because what she's making clear is that they'll follow the usual practice which would mean, as her lawyer said earlier this afternoon, certifying this election, barring some unforeseen circumstance which would cause her to accept these amended returns, prior to Saturday. Certifying these elections on Saturday."
David Boies, superman. ABC, CBS and NBC offered effusive evaluations of the skills lawyer David Boies brings to the Gore re-take the election team.
-- Erin Hayes on ABC's World News Tonight: "They brought in today one of the biggest legal guns in the country, David Boies. Boies made it clear the fight is still on."
-- John Roberts on the CBS Evening News: "As a warning of what's ahead if Harris dismisses the hand count, the Gore campaign today rolled out master litigator David Boies, the man who fought Microsoft and won."
-- David Bloom on the NBC Nightly News: "Not so fast, the Gore team said today, bringing in one of the nation's top litigators, David Boies who won the Microsoft case for the government."
Dan Rather ominously suggested late Tuesday morning that by mentioning "uncertainty in financial markets," James Baker had unleashed a "fear stick" to "hit the Gore campaign over the head with."
CBS broke into Price is Right in the eastern time zone at 11am for a special report to show Bush team leader James Baker live from Tallahassee. After Baker finished, Rather asked reporter Bill Whitaker in Austin: "Jim Baker was talking, raising, well I can't say raising fears, he was talking about quote 'uncertainty in financial markets' unquote and 'uncertainty abroad.' Is this a fear stick that the Bush camp now intends to hit the Gore campaign over the head with?"
the Holocaust for sympathy toward to Gore-Lieberman quest for hand
counts to pick up enough votes to put them over the top. Claire
Shipman passed along this story on Tuesday night's NBC Nightly News:
So much better to have voted for a man who met secretly during the campaign with Al Sharpton and ran on the same ticket in New York with a woman who supports a Palestinian state.
Just do the whole election over again. That's what one in five respondents told pollsters for Dateline NBC. On Tuesday night's show, co-anchor Stone Phillips relayed, "Another item from the latest Dateline NBC poll: As far-fetched as it is to think of the entire nation going back to the polls to vote again, one in five Americans now think that's the best way to decide this disputed presidential election."
Earlier, on the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw reported numbers from a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll which found 55 percent are willing to wait for a re-count, even if it takes several weeks, while 41 percent want a winner declared now. Is it a Constitutional crisis? Yes said 8 percent, likely to become one replied 32 percent and will be resolved thought 56 percent. An identical 47 percent approved of how Bush and Gore are handling the situation.
CBS on Tuesday night gave a sentence to the corruption in Wisconsin detailed in a full report Monday night on ABC by Brian Ross.
On the November 14 CBS Evening News reporter Jeffrey Kofman looked at how Republicans in Wisconsin, where Gore is ahead by just 6,000 votes, are preparing for a re-count. Kofman explained their concern: "Republicans contend that the vote in the Milwaukee area was tainted by Democratic bribes of cigarettes to homeless voters and a college prank that saw some students vote more than once, including one registered as Mickey Mouse."
Kofman then allowed University of Wisconsin professor Don Kettl to suggest it's unlikely a re-count would change the outcome and that Bush people are raising the possibility as a warning shot to Gore.
For more about the Monday World News Tonight
story from Brian Ross, go to the November 14 CyberAlert:
Impeachment deja vu, it's like impeachment all over again with Geraldo Rivera impugning anyone on the GOP side who once opposed Clinton in any way. Monday night on CNBC, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, Rivera denigrated lawyer Ted Olson as "a card-carrying member of the old anti-Clinton cabal." Rivera complained that "the same party that supported a reckless five-year-long wild goose chase into Bill Clinton's personal life is now howling that time is so of the essence that we can't afford the days or weeks necessary for a full and fair re-count."
Rivera opened his Rivera Live show Monday night,
November 13, on CNBC:
During the show famed reporter Carl Bernstein
attacked Katherine Harris from the partisan Democratic left:
Geraldo Rivera and the rest of the media are more interested in damaging the reputation of Bush lawyers and the elected Secretary of State, but a conservative group on Tuesday disclosed how the federal judge who rejected a Bush request on Monday is an active contributor to many Democrats, including Al Gore.
As noted in the November 14 CyberAlert, neither ABC or CBS mentioned the political affiliation of Judge Donald Middlebrooks. NBC's Dan Abrams relayed how Middlebrooks was nominated by President Clinton and "donated $1,500 to the Clinton-Gore campaign in '92 and '96." But Abrams explained away any significance of Middlebrooks's politics as Abrams insisted those who know him said "they thought he would decide this case on the law, not on politics" since he is "really known as an independent-minded thinker."
Peter Flaherty, President of the National Legal
and Policy Center (NLPC), argued in a Tuesday press release:
NLPC provided a "chronological list of Judge Middlebrooks's political donations since January 1, 1979, according to the Federal Election Commission." The check determined "that 98.72 percent of the $19,480 went to Democratic candidates and committees. Note further that his only Republican donation, $250 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, occurred the year before the Republican-controlled Senate confirmed his appointment by Bill Clinton to the federal bench in 1997."
The recipients of Middlebrooks's generosity included Senator Bob Graham, Clinton/Gore '96, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senator Robert Kerrey, Bill Clinton's presidential committee back in 1991, Senator Carl Levin, Senator Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy's 1980 presidential bid and about five U.S. House Democrats from Florida.
For the complete list, go to: http://nlpc.org/media/2000/111400.htm
ABC News pressuring or harassing Bush electors or just doing some honest reporting about their understanding of their Constitutional options? Mary Hergert, a Colorado elector for Bush, told the Denver Rocky Mountain News, in a story to which a CyberAlert reader alerted me, about how she felt intimidated by an ABC News staffer. The paper explained: "Hergert said the caller said he was 'Ed from ABC News' and asked if she would ever consider voting for Al Gore, then said it is unconstitutional for her to be bound by state law to follow Colorado voters' preference for Bush."
Here's an excerpt from the November 12 Denver Rocky Mountain News story by reporter Ann Imse, titled, "Colorado's Electoral College voters start feeling pressure."
The eight Colorado members of the Electoral College are suddenly finding themselves under the lights, not to mention under pressure.
One elector, Mary Hergert, found questions from ABC News more like veiled intimidation than journalistic inquiry. So she checked her caller ID to make sure the call really was from ABC News.
On Dec. 18, the 538 people elected to once-obscure ceremonial posts may find themselves in a 271-269 vote if George W. Bush wins Florida over Al Gore, and Gore holds onto microscopic leads in New Mexico and Oregon.
State law requires Colorado electors to vote for Bush as the victor of the Colorado balloting. But electors in 26 other states are not legally bound to follow their voters' wishes, according to the National Archives and Records Administration.
So even if Bush wins Florida, Gore could become president if just two electors switch their votes to the candidate who won the popular vote. The electors vote on Dec. 18 but their sealed ballots are not opened until Jan. 6.
And that has politicians starting to worry, and news organizations asking pointed questions.
"You couldn't have written a script this weird," says Bob Beauprez, an elector and chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.
Hergert said the caller said he was "Ed from ABC News" and asked if she would ever consider voting for Al Gore, then said it is unconstitutional for her to be bound by state law to follow Colorado voters' preference for Bush.
"It was bothersome," said Hergert, who served as Bush's Weld County campaign chairman. And in reality, the Constitution says nothing on the subject.
A second Colorado elector, Rob Dieter, also mentioned a call from ABC News when the Denver Rocky Mountain News asked if anyone had tried to influence his vote.
ABC News spokeswoman Su-Lin Nichols apologized for any confusion caused when a group of staffers called electors across the country with a series of identical questions in preparation of a possible story on the Electoral College vote.
"We feel they acted professionally," she said.
Nichols refused to release the exact questions. But she insisted they were questions, not statements, dealing with the electors' knowledge of legal restrictions on their votes.
Hergert was not happy. "I think the mainstream media has enough to answer for," she said, referring to the television networks repeated reversals of results in Florida....
To read the whole article, go to:
If ABC News doesn't want to become the focal point of the nation's wrath for the next four years, it better make sure its staffers are not doing anything that any elector could even misinterpret as pressure to change allegiance from one candidate to another. -- Brent Baker
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