Only Bush Judges Should Be Recused?; Gumbel to Lieberman: "Disappointed" with Bush?; Bob Dole Took Up Media Bias -- Back to today's CyberAlert
3) The morning shows on Thursday sympathized with Joe Lieberman while they hammered GOP guests to defend the decision of Katherine Harris to not certify hand count numbers. ABC pressed both Lieberman and Harris's lawyer about why she won't recuse herself. CBS's Jane Clayson asked: "What do you say to Floridians who now believe that they have been left without a voice" because "of Ms. Harris' decision?" Gumbel to Lieberman: "Has the Governor's tone, his behavior since Election Day disappointed you?"
4) Bob Dole wrote an op-ed piece documenting his evidence of media bias: "Ms. Harris has said that she will uphold the election laws in Florida, and for that, her character is questioned....It's one thing for the Gore campaign to question her integrity. It's another for the mainstream media to follow suit."
Both George Bush via Katherine Harris and Al Gore through his lawyers are equally guilty in using "partisans and lawyers" to win Florida, a Thursday night CBS Evening News story decided.
Wyatt Andrews ran through the strategies employed by both candidates before concluding: "Candidate Bush says he wants a fair and accurate count of the votes. Candidate Gore says he wants to honor the true will of the people. That's what they say. What they are doing is asking partisans and lawyers to find the advantage that wins them Florida."
CNN's Judy Woodruff on Thursday only cared about having federal judges appointed by President Bush recuse themselves without asking about the same course of action for those nominated By President Clinton.
On the November 16 Inside Politics, Bob Franken outlined
the political make-up of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, the
court to which the Bush team is appealing a federal district court ruling that
it did not have reason to stop a state recount:
As if the Clinton-appointed judges would have any more or less a partisan interest than the Bush-named ones.
Franken answered, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Everybody would be startled if that were to occur. The judges, particularly at the federal level, like to make the claim that in fact their political dispositions before they were judges do not affect their dispensation of justice. There are others, however, who say that there is a predilection to rule a certain way. We're gonna have to see how this comes out. But in any case, no one is expecting any of these judges to recuse themselves."
Catching up with Thursday morning material I didn't have room for in this morning's CyberAlert, network morning show hosts were clearly displeased with Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris's decision to certify vote totals before some counties completed a full hand count. Her lawyer was pounded and other GOP guests hammered on all three morning shows while the hosts sympathized with Democratic VP nominee Joe Lieberman.
On the November 16 Good Morning America, ABC's Charles Gibson suggested to Lieberman that since Harris is "Governor Bush's co-chair in the state of Florida, should she recuse herself from this entire matter?" Moments later Diane Sawyer quizzed Harris's lawyer: "Given that she is a declared Republican, why not go the extra mile in this situation, and at least in order to assure the perception of fairness, bring in outsiders from all parties to help deliberate?"
CBS's Jane Clayson demanded of Harris's lawyer on The Early Show: "What do you say to Floridians who now believe that they have been left without a voice in this election because of Ms. Harris' decision?" Incredibly, Gumbel asked Lieberman: "Has the Governor's tone, his behavior since Election Day disappointed you?" In contrast, Clayson argued with Haley Barbour about why Bush wouldn't accept Gore's offer to meet: "Why not meet now?....Wasn't that a conciliatory move on the Vice President's part?...Wouldn't you agree that this is so divisive that it might help America, sort of pull us all together?"
NBC's Katie Couric mildly challenged Joe Lieberman, but was not nearly as tough as Matt Lauer was with Republican Fred Thompson, to whom he argued: "In places like Palm Beach County though isn't it true that legal actions from the Secretary of State and from the Bush campaign actually delayed the process?"
Here are details on the three November 16 morning show interview segments:
> ABC's Good Morning America.
Charles Gibson to Joe Lieberman:
Diane Sawyer later interviewed Harris's lawyer, Joseph
Klock, and posed these questions taken down by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:
> CBS's The Early Show. Jane Clayson pressed Klock,
as observed by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
Bryant Gumbel hardly questioned the Democratic position
in his softball inquiries to Lieberman:
But instead of being equal with the GOP representative,
former RNC Chairman Haley Barbour, and ask him how disappointed he is with the
Democratic position, The Early Show's Jane Clayson made him defend the Bush
> NBC's Today. Katie Couric at least challenged
Senator Joseph Lieberman a bit in some of these inquiries taken down by MRC
analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
Matt Lauer introduced the GOP guest of the morning: "The Bush campaign has asked Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson to speak for them this morning. He is aiding the Bush team in, in the efforts in Florida. Senator Thompson, good morning to you. Senator Lieberman just said that the Secretary of State of Florida's actions were very arbitrary and they require voters now to go to court to make sure their votes are heard. What is your reaction?"
Lauer's other questions:
Retired Senator Bob Dole took up media bias Thursday in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal titled, "The Media's Pro-Gore Bias: They paint Katherine Harris as partisan and Bob Butterworth as disinterested." Here's an excerpt:
....Let me give you an example of media bias. Realizing that it is losing on the message, the Gore campaign has now resorted to attacking the messenger. In this case, it is assaulting the integrity of the secretary of state of Florida, Katherine Harris, in the hopes of blurring the fact that she is simply upholding the law. Never mind that she was elected by the people of Florida. Never mind that she has been praised by Democrats and Republicans for her work on the state's behalf. And never mind that she does not have a partisan reputation.
Ms. Harris has said that she will uphold the election laws in Florida, and for that, her character is questioned. Vile comments made by Alan Dershowitz (and reported in the press) referring to Ms. Harris as a "crook," only serve to remind us of the poisonous rhetoric directed at some women by this administration over the past eight years.
But it's one thing for the Gore campaign to question her integrity. It's another for the mainstream media to follow suit. Yesterday's banner headline in the New York Times proclaimed, "Judge Upholds Hand Recounts in Florida." No fair and balanced reading of that ruling would come to that conclusion.
Staying with the Times: In a front-page story about Ms. Harris in Tuesday's edition, the lead sentence called her a "Republican Party stalwart who serves in Governor Jeb Bush's cabinet." The story went on to discuss her role as co-chair of George W. Bush's Florida campaign. It would be okay if the Times wanted to label this as an opinion piece. But the front page? This was not serious news. It was an editorial posing as a front-page story.
But if the media are unable to refrain from labeling certain players as "partisan Republicans," then fairness demands that they hold Democrats to the same bar. Unfortunately, this appears too much to ask.
One of the central figures in this entire recount is Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth. On Monday, Mr. Butterworth came forward with an advisory opinion urging Palm Beach County to ignore Ms. Harris's ruling that manual recounts should not be conducted there. This despite the fact that Mr. Butterworth's own Web page says he has neither the authority nor the jurisdiction to provide advisory opinions on election issues.
In reporting these events, few in the media have mentioned that Mr. Butterworth is an intense partisan who was Mr. Gore's campaign chairman in Florida. A double standard?
Nor will it do for pundits to tell us that their polling shows the American people want all the votes to count. Of course the American people want all the votes to count. But how would they respond to an accurately phrased question: "Do you think there should be recount after recount in selective highly Democratic counties until the Gore campaign gets the result it wants?"
T.S. Eliot once said that politics is too important to be left to politicians. I hope the same will not be said of journalists. I believe the American people would make a few simple requests of the mainstream media: Let's be fair, let's be accurate, let's be balanced, and let's do this right.
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