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CyberAlert -- 11/17/2000 -- Cheneys Fought Back

Cheneys Fought Back; Tauzin's Bias Charge Picked Up; NBC Boosted Boies as a "Legend in His Own Time"; ABCNews.com Spiked by ABC-TV -- Weekend Edition

1) Lynne and Dick Cheney fought back against ABC reporter Jack Ford in prime time Thursday night, countering his assumption about how the public wants "fairness" over finality and using the air time to denounce how the networks on election night had "distorted the process" through their missed and early state calls.

2) CBS and NBC denied it but both ran stories on Congressman Billy Tauzin's contention, as outlined by CBS's Bob Schieffer, that "the networks may have delayed calling victories in states where Bush was narrowly ahead to make it appear that Gore was sweeping the night."

3) Boosting Boies. "He's a legend in his own time," NBC's Tom Brokaw gushed in introducing a tribute to the Gore lawyer Thursday night. Reporter Jim Avila oozed about the "impressive track record" of "New York super lawyer David Boies." Avila promoted how he's "high on skill, low on pretense."

4) ABC spiked its own national scoop. ABCNews.com reported that "police in Palm Beach County confiscated a ballot-box mechanism from the car of a well-known local Democrat." But no ABC News TV show touched the story, leaving it to FNC to give it TV time where Carl Cameron mentioned it as well as how Carol Roberts opposed a hand count for a Republican who lost by 11 votes.

5) Even a Democratic political consultant sees media bias. Pat Caddell noted that of 27,000 ballots not counted in Duval County, "15,000 were in precincts where George Bush carried by 75 percent or more but we don't have any media or anybody running up to protect those people."


1

During a live prime time interview Thursday night, Lynne and Dick Cheney fought back against ABC reporter Jack Ford, countering his assumptions and using the air time to denounce how the networks on election night had "distorted the process" through their missed and early state calls.

When Ford asserted that "polls have told us that the public is more interested in fairness and accuracy than speed," Lynne Cheney cut him off: "Wait a second. The polls don't show that at all." Later, Dick Cheney contended the media caused more of a problem than any confusing ballots: "I think the network call early on with the polls still open in Florida had probably a bigger impact than anything else that's happened."

The comments from the Cheneys came in a live interview in Austin aired at the top of ABC's 10pm ET/9pm CT (on tape elsewhere) Primetime Thursday hosted by Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer. At one point Ford tried to convince Dick Cheney to agree to a state-wide hand count: "Let's say we'll carefully monitor, maybe a super-monitoring team -- former Presidents Carter and Ford have offered their services. If it could be done that way, what's wrong with doing it that way?"

Jack Ford began by asking for Dick Cheney's reaction to the Florida Supreme Court ruling imposing no legal impediment to hand counts. Ford next challenged him with the Democratic spin:
"Understanding your position about the counts that have already been taken, do you really want to win the presidency and the vice presidency in your situation, without being absolutely certain that every vote that could possibly be counted has been counted?"

Next, Ford wondered: "On a personal note here, it's been nine days since election day. How difficult have these nine days of uncertainty been for you, Mrs. Cheney?" He followed up by asking what they said to each other when they thought they'd won and what did Bush say to Gore when he called to withdraw his concession.

Ford then arrived at the supposition which upset Lynne Cheney:
"Let's pick up now with some of the events that have taken place over the last nine days. Just recently, Vice President Gore came out and made a proposal saying that, 'Look, here's what we'll do. We can hand count the entire state of Florida. We will agree to be bound by that, we'll withdraw any litigation, the election will be over.' Governor Bush said no to that. Now polls have told us that the public is more interested in fairness and accuracy than speed-"
Lynne Cheney jumped in: "What a second, wait a second. The polls don't show that at all-"
Ford: "For whatever they're worth, people are saying-"
Lynne Cheney, identified on screen as "Lynn," talked over Ford as her husband looked on bemused: "What polls show is people want it over with by this weekend, the plurality of people do. And when you pose the question, do you want fairness or speed, of course you would choose fairness. But the point is that's a false choice. The choice is not between fairness and speed, the choice is between-"
Ford: "Okay, let's say you can get them all."
Lynne Cheney: "Fairness and speed, let's do it by this weekend."
Ford: "The question then would be why not say, 'okay, we'll hand count the entire state?' Takes away the concern about selective hand counting by the Democrats. Let's say we'll carefully monitor, maybe a super-monitoring team -- former Presidents Carter and Ford have offered their services. If it could be done that way, what's wrong with doing it that way?"

Dick Cheney answered that the ballots are designed for machine counting and have already been counted.

Ford's next question fired up Dick Cheney: "Are you concerned, given the extraordinary circumstances here, that if you win this election, you become President and Vice President, that still in the minds of many people out there, not necessarily rapid partisans, there's going to be a taint on this election?"

Dick Cheney predicted the American people will rally around whoever takes office. He then used the question as an opportunity to take on the media: "I really think there are serious questions about the way the media reported this election the first night. In effect we had an early call in Florida. The polls in Florida were still open, all of Western Florida, the Panhandle, Republican area, conservative area, was in effect told, before they voted in many cases, that the decision was already made in Florida. One estimate is that at least 10,000 Bush voters never went to the polls because of that early call. That early call held for over two hours. That probably depressed our vote in the Western part of the United States, then it was reversed late in the evening, and then finally it came back to us. So, if you want to look at what distorted the process, I think the network call early on with the polls still open in Florida had probably a bigger impact than anything else that's happened."

Wouldn't it be great to have a Second Couple who would use TV interviews to bash the media?

Cheney's 10,000 vote estimate came from John R. Lott Jr., a senior research scholar at the Yale University Law School best-known for his studies on how guns prevent crime, who outlined his estimates in an op-ed published Tuesday in the Philadelphia Inquirer. An excerpt:

By prematurely declaring Gore the winner shortly before polls had closed in Florida's conservative western Panhandle, the media ended up suppressing the Republican vote. Bush obtained over 65 percent of the vote in the affected area. With only 329 votes separating the two candidates Friday morning, even a few hundred discouraged votes in addition to the 379,000 cast in Florida's western panhandle could have made a crucial difference.

Congressman Billy Tauzin (R., La.) promises congressional hearings to look into the impact, although the discussion is focusing on California's razor-thin Republican congressional losses and the very tight Senate race in Washington....

Unfortunately, more than a few Florida votes were also affected. An examination of past Republican presidential votes by county in Florida from 1988 to 2000 shows that while total votes declined, the Republican voting rate in the western panhandle was significantly suppressed relative to the non-Republican vote. The 4 percent greater reduction in Republican votes averages about 1,000 votes per county, 10,000 Republican votes for all 10 counties in the western Panhandle. This holds true even after accounting for the average differences in voting rates across counties as well as the changes in voting rates from one election to another.

This conservative estimate of 10,000 votes is more than the any additional votes that Gore might pick up from the manual recounts in counties like Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade....

END Excerpt

To read Lott's entire analysis, go to:
http://web.philly.com/content/inquirer/2000/11/14/opinion/LOTT14.htm

Back to the Cheney interview, Ford moved on to a more agreeable question: "Do you think, given what the Democrats are trying to do in the state of Florida, that the Gore campaign and the Democrats are trying to steal this election?"

Ford ended the segment by asking if the Secretary of State certifies Bush the winner on Saturday will they declare themselves the new President and Vice President? When Cheney answered in the affirmative, a bewildered Ford countered: "Even if there's a hand count going on in some counties?"

Primetime Thursday moved on to non-political topics, such as HMOs which don't inform their clients of doctor suspensions, but the show ended with Charles Gibson interviewing Gore team lawyer David Boies live via satellite from Tallahassee.

Gibson's last question to Boies: "I know you say that you hope she does not do this, but is it your nightmare scenario that she does announce George Bush the winner this weekend while the hand counts continue?"

2

A Congressman who chairs a subcommittee with power over the networks on Thursday castigated the networks for possible bias in election night coverage, but instead of ignoring such a complaint as they do routinely, probably prompted by U.S. Representative Bill Tauzin's position, both CBS and NBC ran stories summarizing his case. Of course, both networks denied any wrongdoing.

On the November 16 CBS Evening News, Bob Schieffer told Dan Rather, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"Well Dan, in yet another complication, Republican Congressman Billy Tauzin, the House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman, suggested today the networks may have delayed calling victories in states where Bush was narrowly ahead to make it appear that Gore was sweeping the night. He said that may have convinced many Bush supporters not to vote. CBS News officials deny the charge saying decisions were delayed only when there was insufficient data to make an accurate call. In a statement, CBS News President Andrew Heyward said: 'The accusation that there was bias in CBS News's reporting of the election night results is completely without foundation.' Tauzin spoke on Capitol Hill as he announced plans to investigate network procedures."
Billy Tauzin: "By calling the Al Gore states early and delaying the calls on the George W. Bush states, you receive a picture of America believing that Al Gore was sweeping the country, that George W. Bush was having trouble carrying his states."
Schieffer: "CBS officials said the calls that were made quickly for Gore came only when there was heavy statistical evidence to support them. In cases like Gore's home state of Tennessee and West Virginia, where Bush eventually scored upset wins, analysts waited for more data because those victories went against past voting patterns. Missing the Florida call means the networks have plenty to answer for, says media critic Tom Rosenstiel, but he dismissed the idea they tried to manipulate results."
Tom Rosenstiel: "The risk of doing something to help one candidate and harm another, it's just too great a risk to take. It doesn't make sense."
Schieffer concluded: "In the meantime, CBS News has brought in an outside expert to help us find out what went wrong on the Florida call and how to correct it."

CBS News President Andrew Heyward's denial of bias in this one instance doesn't carry much weight when you realize he doesn't think CBS ever displays a liberal bias. Appearing on C-SPAN back on July 30, in response to a caller who asked about liberal media bias documented by the Media Research Center and Accuracy in Media, Heyward was dismissive: "Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I do deny that we have a bias, and I'm familiar with the work that [Brent] Bozell and [Reed] Irvine do. They are activists and extremists of the right."

Returning to Thursday night, over on the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw read a shorter item on the same subject: "On Capitol Hill today, Republican Congressman Billy Tauzin of Louisiana accused the television networks, including NBC, of bias, favoring Vice President Gore on election night. Tauzin is the Chairman of the House Commerce Telecommunications Subcommittee. He said the timing of the winner projections in different states discouraged Republican voters in Florida and also in other states."
Tauzin: "The presumptive conclusion that I think any reasonable person will reach after reviewing this evidence, is that there must have been, there probably was bias in the reporting of the election on election night by the major networks of our country."
Brokaw: "Congressman Tauzin says he'll be calling congressional hearings on his charges. NBC News already has announced that we are conducting a thorough review of our election night procedures as well as those of the Voter News Service, VNS, which provided that exit poll data. We'll be reporting on those findings when we have them finished."

3

"He's a legend in his own time," NBC's Tom Brokaw gushed in introducing a panegyrical profile Thursday night of Gore team lawyer David Boies. NBC has yet to air any glowing profile of any Bush team lawyer, but NBC reporter Jim Avila oozed about the "impressive track record" of "New York super lawyer David Boies, now Al Gore's Florida advocate, the top of his career, the fight of his life." Avila promoted how he's "high on skill, low on pretense, say colleagues." But he puts his country first: "A lawyer who believes he can win, but not at any cost."

Tom Brokaw introduced the nearly three-minute-long NBC Nightly News tribute: "As the battle in the Florida arena shifted to the legal arena, the Gore campaign brought in a heavyweight, a New York lawyer with an enviable record and a quirky personal style. The Gore team hopes he'll do for them what he did to Bill Gates. His name is David Boies, and he's a legend in his own time."

Jim Avila began, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"Six hundred dollar an hour fees, two hundred dollar suits. Today in court for the Democrats wearing black tennis shoes and an impressive track record, the litigator-in-chief. New York super lawyer David Boies, now Al Gore's Florida advocate, the top of his career, the fight of his life."
David Boies: "I think it's a proud moment. We are dealing with a very difficult issue of how do you transfer political power in an instance in which the country is razor thin divided."
Avila: "Last year's lawyer of the year, according to the National Law Journal, profiled in Vanity Fair and People magazine. High on skill, low on pretense, say colleagues."
William Kovacic, George Washington University Law School: "His style is very unassuming. He doesn't dress pretentiously. He doesn't speak pretentiously in the courtroom."
Avila: "Boies' biggest courtroom moment till now, the Microsoft trial, the showdown with Bill Gates. Hired to break up the company, Boies confronted Gates and used this videotaped deposition to make the richest man in the world seem detached from his powerful software company. [clip of tape gate I don't know] And now a different battlefield. Just as competitive, but not a ruthless, says Boies. Difficult legal questions, public relations challenges, political demands, and in this case, winning cannot be everything."
Boies: "One of these men is gonna become President of the United States. One of these men is gonna be the President of all of us, and we want to be able to unite behind whoever the ultimate winner is."
Avila: "But he wants Al Gore to be that winner, and Boies' strength in the courtroom, say other lawyers, is that he simplifies complicated issues, representing big clients, like CBS in the Westmoreland trial, IBM in the anti-trust trial, and Napster on the Internet, piercing motions and legalese, by telling stories that distill arguments into one or two sentences."
Boies: "The people have voted, the votes have been cast. Now are we gonna count them or not."
Avila: "Based in Westchester, New York, where he lives with his third wife and two of his six children, what does this super-lawyer in mail order clothes bring to Al Gore in the end? Supporters say the Vice President's only chance."
Kovacic: "If he doesn't overturn the result of the original balloting, he will know that he gave it his very best possible shot."
Avila concluded: "With a lawyer who believes he can win, but not at any cost. Jim Avila, NBC News, Tallahassee."

4

ABC News spiked its own national scoop. Picking up on a revelation from a Palm Beach Post columnist, ABCNews.com reported Wednesday that "police in Palm Beach County confiscated a ballot-box mechanism from the car of a well-known local Democrat." The "Votomatic," ABCNews.com related, is "a device used on some types of ballot boxes to punch votes through ballot cards, which are then tallied by computers."

But no ABC News TV show touched the story, leaving it to FNC to give it TV time. Zilch on Good Morning America, Nightline and World News Tonight Tuesday night through Thursday night. FNC's Carl Cameron mentioned the development in a larger story in which he also related how Palm Beach County's Carol Roberts, who is now leading the charge for a hand count, opposed one in September for a Republican who lost a race by 11 votes.

But first, an excerpt of the November 15 story on ABCNews.com which ABC TV skipped. Chris Vlasto and David Ruppe disclosed:

Several days after presidential votes were tallied in what has become the hotbed of Florida's post-election confusion, police in Palm Beach County confiscated a ballot-box mechanism from the car of a well-known local Democrat.

The mechanism, called a "Votomatic," did not contain any ballots. It's a device used on some types of ballot boxes to punch votes through ballot cards, which are then tallied by computers.

According to a police report filed at the Palm Beach County sheriff's office and obtained by ABCNEWS, Irving Slosberg, 53, pulled the mechanism from his car and handed it over to police on Nov. 11 after denying to a county government employee that he had it.

When told of the incident, Palm Beach County's supervisor of elections, Theresa LePore, declined to press charges, according to the report. "She noted that this incident did occur during the hand count of the presidential election and LePore stated she did not wish to pursue further this matter at this time due to extenuating circumstances," it said. No further action was taken.

Slosberg, a 53-year-old resident of nearby Boca Raton who owns a handbag company, recently won a seat in the state Legislature amid allegations he tried to buy his election.

The officer who filed the report, Deputy Sheriff Daniel Grose, had been working a special elections detail when he was contacted by Denise Cote, director of public affairs for Palm Beach County. Cote said she believed Slosberg had an official Palm Beach County ballot box, according to the police report. Cote told the deputy she first wanted to speak with Slosberg alone to convince him to give the machinery back, but she asked the officer to stand by. Ten minutes later, Cote returned to the officer and said Slosberg had become confrontational and denied having the mechanism. "I asked Mr. Slosberg to return it to me, and he said no, he intended to use it," Cote told ABCNEWS.com.

She said Slosberg did not say how he wanted to use it and he declined to say how he had obtained it. "I was told by the county's attorney's office that it must have been taken from a voting booth, because there was no other way that he could have obtained it," Cote said.

When the officer asked Slosberg whether he had the item, Slosberg led the officer to his car and handed over the Votomatic, according to the police report....

A Palm Beach Post political columnist wrote Monday that Slosberg had been "schlepping" the mechanism around the county government center "like a traveling election equipment salesman."

"He was happy to provide a demonstration of the county's ballot problems for anyone with a TV camera last week," wrote columnist George Bennett. But Slosberg was no longer toting the visual aid Saturday night, after Mary McCarty, a Palm Beach County commissioner, demanded to know how he got his hands on a piece of official county voting machinery, Bennett wrote. "It disappeared," Slosberg said Sunday when asked about the Votomatic.

END Excerpt

To read the entire article, go to:
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/politics/DailyNews/florida_votamatic_001115.html

Thursday night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, reporter Carl Cameron picked up on that revelation as well as two other interesting charges made against the chief canvasser in Palm Beach County and pressure applied by the Gore-supporting Attorney General. He explained, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"For a week, the canvassing board had been waiting for legal word on whether going forward with a manual recount would be lawful, but even before word came, the board's most controversial and pro-Gore member had been demanding one get started."
Carol Roberts, Canvassing Board Commissioner: "The longer we wait, the less chance it seems to me that we might actually accomplish that."
Cameron raised an issue of hypocrisy I've not seen reported anywhere else: "But eight weeks ago, Roberts led the fight against a manual recount in this woman's GOP bid for Florida's legislature. Beverly Green lost by 11 votes and having been denied a manual recount then, now accuses Roberts and others of operating under a double standard to help Al Gore."
Beverly Green: "They really outsmarted themselves because they forgot that eight weeks ago they had already really made a decision that carries some precedent here eight weeks later. The precedent was established in my race eight weeks ago."

Cameron pointed out a double standard in how Katherine Harris is portrayed: "Some Florida Democrats want Harris disqualified for contributing to and co-chairing Florida's Bush campaign as well as conferring with partisan Bush operatives, but the allegations against the chairman of Florida's Gore campaign who has pushed for manual recounts and also happens to be the state's Attorney General are more serious. Bob Butterworth allegedly used his office to pressure the Volusia County canvassing board for a manual recount. The board chairman was quoted as saying he felt it was inappropriate. And at this point Butterworth has yet to comment on those allegations or the conversation that he allegedly had."

Cameron then gave air time to the ABCNews.com story: "The Palm Beach County police just on Wednesday night actually pulled over another Democratic election official, and in his car they found a mechanical voting machine. Wasn't supposed to be there. No ballots on hand and no charges filed, but with each day it seems there is more evidence of potential irregularities raising more questions about the integrity of this whole process, Brit."
Brit Hume raised charges against Roberts: "Well Carl, these charges that have been made against Carol Roberts by Republicans are fairly serious, I mean they've charged, for example, that she's actually manipulated the ballots. What do we know about the charges and the validity of those accusations."
Cameron explained: "Well, so far there have been five sworn affidavits filled out by Republican observers of this process, one of them from a gentleman by the name of Mark Climmick (sp?), and we have it here, and in it, he asserts that several ballots were approved by Ms. Carol Roberts of the canvassing board, which displayed only minor indentations, which under this canvassing board's own rules, should not be counted as votes.
"Mr. Climmick goes on in his sworn affidavit to say, 'I personally observed canvassing board counters and Ms. Roberts twisting and otherwise manipulating the paper ballots in an attempt to dislodge the chads,' the dangling pieces of paper. 'I personally requested that Ms. Carol Roberts review several ballots that were counted as valid Gore votes, despite the fact that there existed no hanging chads, and she refused,' and finally, and this is perhaps the most explosive of this gentleman's allegations, again in a sworn affidavit, 'I observed Ms. Carol Roberts picking up numerous ballots from the questionable pile and the Gore pile and then interspersing ballots between the piles,' meaning ballots that would probably not have been counted by those who had looked at them, according to this affidavit, were picked up by Ms. Roberts and put into the tally that should have gone into the Gore column."

5

While the media are all focused on missed Gore votes in Democratic counties, Bush may have lost more votes in a big Republican county, Democratic consultant Pat Caddell contended in taking on the media's bias Wednesday night on MSNBC's Hardball. He discovered that of 27,000 rejected ballots in Duval County, "15,000 were in precincts where George Bush carried by 75 percent or more but we don't have any media or anybody running up to protect those people."

MRC analyst Paul Smith took down Caddell's words from the November 15 Hardball live MSNBC and played back later on CNBC. Caddell pointed out:
"If you look at the voting systems where we have this punch card, in the rest of the places that are not being counted, and I know that the media only thinks that Palm Beach and Miami exist in Florida, but most of the people live outside of it and there are huge numbers of advantage. Almost sixty percent of the people in the 20 counties that have the same voting systems we're talking about, voted for George Bush. If I had been the Bush people I would have asked for a recount. This idea that we've really carried the state and somehow we're really finding out doesn't stand up to the numbers."

Caddell went on to explain: "Let me tell you what happened in Duval County which the media, for everybody running down to save the poor people of Palm Beach, in Duval County which had voted 300,000 people, in Jacksonville where I actually started my political, well my polling career and I know pretty well, I went through every precinct there last night. What you find is that nine percent, twice as many people proportionate were banned, were knocked out of the election because they had a two page ballot and by the way, of those 27,000 people knocked out of Duval County, 15,000 were in precincts where George Bush carried by 75 percent or more but we don't have any media or anybody running up to protect those people. I mean, this has been so disproportionate. I don't blame the Democrats. They have a game which is pretend its all in our court but I blame the media for not having more balance in this and the people of Florida, by the way, have apparently overwhelmingly figured this out."

Maybe so too has Katherine Harris. -- Brent Baker


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