Rather Rued "Roadblock" for Gore; Jennings Suggested Gore a "Victim"; FNC Disclosed Broward Hand Count Shenanigans
2) Jennings, Rather and Brokaw all pressed Al Gore with tough questions on procedural matters, but none cast doubt on the legitimacy of his pursuit. Jennings also asked Gore if he thinks he's "the victim of circumstance" and Rather wondered if Gore believed "that the Bush forces are being if not dishonest, at least not all together straight forward..."
3) Al Gore displayed a remarkable level of lack of knowledge about computers, but none of the network anchors picked up on it. Gore asserted: "It's just like the supermarket check out line where that scanner misses some of the items and the clerk has to go back and write it in by hand." Huh? "Write...by hand" into a computer?
4) Brokaw suggested to Cheney that if the Florida legislature assigns Bush electors and the bill is signed by Jeb Bush, "won't that just simply politicize this entire affair, and won't that make it very questionable as you try to take office on January 20th in the eyes of the American public?"
6) While ABC, CBS and NBC were giving air time to Gore's mantra about "fair and accurate" hand counts, FNC demonstrated how a look at the transcripts of the Broward County canvassing board decision-making last week revealed "a process that is anything but fair or accurate."
7) Picking up on how Dan Rather on Sunday night characterized Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris's certification action, FNC's Brit Hume played clips of Rather discrediting the import of her decision by stressing it's how "she sees it."
Rather spun a court ruling as a "roadblock" to Gore's
"fast-track" quest. Leading with Leon County Judge Sanders
Saul's decision to require all of the Miami-Dade ballots be trucked to
Tallahassee, not just the 10,000 the Gore operatives want counted again,
Rather opened Wednesday's CBS Evening News:
Al Gore hit the trifecta Wednesday night, November 29, with appearances on all three broadcast network evening shows and while Peter Jennings, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw all pressed him with tough questions on procedural matters, such as if he's concede if the U.S. Supreme Court rules against him or if his action endangers the electoral college selection, none doubted the legitimacy of his pursuit or suggested he's violating the rule of law.
Jennings and Rather tossed in a softball each. Jennings absolved Gore of responsibility: "Do you think in may ways sir you're the victim of circumstance now?" Rather began a question: "Do you or do you not believe that the Bush forces are being if not dishonest, at least not all together straight forward..."
ABC and CBS played back Gore interview excerpts from taped sessions while NBC had Gore live in their initial 6:30pm ET show, followed by Dick Cheney. (See item #4 below for details about Brokaw and Cheney.) Gore and Cheney also appeared on CNN in prime time, but I didn't get to see those interviews.
> ABC's World News Tonight. The questions from Peter Jennings to Al Gore:
-- "Mr. Vice President, we can't remember the last time you made yourself so available to the media at your suggestion and I wonder if I'm fair in trying to say that you're trying to change the perception reflected in many polls that the time is fast approaching for you to accept the certified results in Florida and concede the election?"
-- "You keep saying counting the votes in Florida, sir. Do you not mean more specifically 'recounting' the votes?"
-- "You have not, sir, been completely clear or
consistent about a date certain on which you will no longer continue the
legal challenge. Do you believe that date is December the 12th?"
-- "Do you support in spirit, though your name is not on the suit, the effort to throw out the ballots in Seminole County because the Republicans put an identification number on the application?"
-- "Do you think in may ways sir you're the
victim of circumstance now?"
> CBS Evening News. Dan Rather first asked Gore about how Dick Cheney "suggested among other things that you were now endangering the country. Your response?"
-- "If the U.S. Supreme Court rules against you on Friday will you then give it up?"
-- When Gore said only that he wouldn't speculate on court action, Rather followed-up: "But back to the question. If they rule against you, you don't have to speculate on what they're going to do, if they rule against you are you then prepared to say, 'I still think it's unfair, I still think I won the election but for the good of the country I'll concede'?"
-- "Do you or do you not believe that the Bush forces are being if not dishonest, at least not all together straight forward, by moving to a transition, by being seen and in effect saying, 'Look, we won the election, George Bush is the next President and we're moving to it'?"
-- "George Bush's argument is that those votes have gone through a machine at least once, and many of them have gone through twice, and it's his argument that they have been counted. Most of them not once but twice."
> NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw to Gore:
-- "Mr. Vice President, you keep talking about the role of the people in all of this. Don't the people of this country deserve to know how you would react if next week some time early the headline reads: 'Gore loses in U.S. Supreme Court.' Now you don't have to speculate on that. I just have for you."
-- "Alright, well let's then, why not count the more than one million votes that were cast in Miami-Dade County and in Palm Beach County as Governor Bush's team has requested today?"
-- "Mr. Vice President, there are another 160,000 of those [under count] ballots in the state of Florida, and you're not asking for them to be recounted."
-- "And Republicans want to know that if you're so eager to have every vote counted, why you don't repudiate that lawsuit that has been filed in Seminole County contesting those absentee ballots, just the applications for them in which the registration was filled in by others fulfilling what many Republicans are saying was a mere technicality. Why not repudiate that lawsuit?"
-- "Final question, Mr. Vice President, if there is not a final recount by December 12th when the electors must be selected in Florida, will you set aside your personal interest and get out of this race in what you could perceive to be the interest of the country?"
Handwriting into a computer? In all three interviews Wednesday night Al Gore seemed to display a complete lack of understanding of how supermarket scanners, or computers for that matter, really work as they use a keypad and not some sort of writing tablet, but none of the network anchors picked up on his misstatements as he related the same anecdotal example to make a point in all three interviews.
Asked by Dan Rather about how "George Bush's argument is that those votes have gone through a machine at least once, and many of them have gone through twice, and it's his argument that they have been counted," Gore replied: "They haven't been counted. It's just like the supermarket check out line where that scanner misses some of the items and the clerk has to go back and write it in by hand. They look at it, see what it says and write it in. We trust the people to make up for the mistakes in the machines."
Twice during his answer Gore used his hands to mimic handwriting something as he put the fingers of one hand together, as if holding a pen, and wiggled them above the open palm on his other hand.
In response to a similar inquiry from Tom Brokaw, Gore outlined the same supermarket analogy and, as he mimicked handwriting, asserted that when the scanner does not pick up on an item you don't get it for free as "they write down the amount by hand. And that's because computers make mistakes."
Of course, as anyone who has been a grocery store in the last 15 or so years knows, grocery scanners work off bar codes and so when one is not read the cashier enters the actual bar code number sequence. But not by hand. They use the keypad which comes with computer terminals.
Following Gore, Dick Cheney was quizzed by NBC's Tom Brokaw in Cheney's only broadcast network evening show appearance.
Brokaw started with procedural questions about why the Bush team is not agreeing to Gore's new counting proposals and suggested that if the Florida legislature assigns Bush electors and the bill is signed by Jeb Bush "won't that just simply politicize this entire affair, and won't that make it very questionable as you try to take office on January 20th in the eyes of the American public?" Of course, forcing that situation is probably the Gore strategy as they hope for just this media reaction, but Brokaw didn't put that burden on Gore. Brokaw also pushed Cheney for not releasing more health information.
Brokaw's questions on the NBC Nightly News, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
-- "First of all, you have been saying, and so has your old friend Jim Baker down in Florida that speed is of the essence here to get on with the transition, and yet the Bush legal team today were making requests that would only delay what is a legally entitled contest of this election by asking it for more ballots to be counted. How do you square the two of those?"
-- "But why not speed the process instead of drag it out?"
-- "Mr. Secretary, if the heavily Republican Florida legislature gets involved in this and elects a slate of electors for the state of Florida and that bill is signed, as he has indicated that he will, by Jeb Bush, the brother of your presidential candidate, won't that just simply politicize this entire affair, and won't that make it very questionable as you try to take office on January 20th in the eyes of the American public?"
-- "But it's not hypothetical to say that the Florida legislature might, in fact, elect that slate. They are already talking about that and the Governor tonight, just in this broadcast, said that he would sign the bill."
-- "Mr. Secretary, I've known you for a long time, almost thirty years at this point, in your public and private life. You've never held any back secrets from anyone. Why not release all of your medical records, if not to the general press, at least to the medical press, which does include many very qualified physicians?"
-- "But can't you understand why reporters might take this to independent medical experts and let them make an evaluation?"
-- "Mr. Secretary, Governor Bush is down at the ranch. You seem to be doing all the work. A Democratic operative today said Dick Cheney needs a 'Patient's Bill of Rights.'"
Fourteen times as many people think Gore as Bush should concede, determined a new CBS News/New York Times poll relayed Wednesday night by Dan Rather.
The "out of patience" number rose to 52 percent this week, up from 45 percent last week Rather noted. Who "should concede?" Gore, answered 42 percent, Bush just 3 percent. Neither, replied 48 percent. Was the "certified Florida count fair and accurate?" The same percentage, 47, said no and yes.
While ABC, CBS and NBC were giving air time to Gore's mantra about a "fair and accurate" recount/hand count of ballots in a couple of counties, the Fox News Channel demonstrated how a look at the transcripts of the Broward County canvassing board decision-making last week revealed "a process that is anything but fair or accurate." FNC's William La Jeunesse showed how Democratic member Susan Gunzburger pushed for Gore votes others didn't see and even bent ballots to get light to shine through as "transcripts from last week's hand count reveal Gunzburger bending the rules for her candidate Al Gore, but not for Bush."
La Jeunesse began his November 29 piece on Special
Report with Brit Hume, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
La Jeunesse explained: "The Broward canvassing board is composed of one Republican and two Democrats -- County Commissioner Susan Gunzburger and Judge Robert Lee. Transcripts from last week's hand count reveal Gunzburger bending the rules for her candidate Al Gore, but not for Bush. Looking at a ballot, she says, 'I've read some opinions that say when there is light visible, that's a punch for the candidate.' 'I don't see it,' says Judge Lee. Judge Rosenberg: 'I don't see any light.' Gunzburger insists, 'Turn it around.' Finally, Lee agrees: 'All right, a vote for Gore.' Later, Gunzburger argued against the same standard for Bush. Another time Gunzburger bends a ballot until light passes through. The Republican representative, Judge Robert Rosenberg objects, suggesting she's creating a vote for Gore. 'I ask you not bend the ballot,' he said. 'Don't bend the ballot,' says an observer. Another says, 'You may not bend the ballot.' Too late. Finally, Judge Lee announces, 'A vote for Gore.'
Republicans are upset, La Jeunesse relayed, "because Gunzburger guesses voter intent, not based on chads alone, but patterns, and how voters voted in races other than the presidency. 'The other races are Democratic. There is an indentation. I would say a vote for Gore.' On another ballot, Lee and Rosenberg saw quote, 'No intent.' However, Gunzburger insists, 'It's pushed on Gore. I'm going to say it's a Gore vote based on the rest of the ballot.' Democrats insist hand counts are objective. In Broward alone they gained 567 votes, but Republicans say those votes are unfair because board members are political, like it or not."
"Captain Dan, the newsman." Picking up on how Dan Rather on Sunday night characterized Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris's certification action, as documented in a November 27 MRC Media Reality Check, Brit Hume ended his FNC show Wednesday night by playing clips of Rather repeatedly discrediting the import of her decision by stressing it's how "she sees it."
Hume set up the clips: "Finally, we go back to Sunday's big event in Tallahassee, the official certification by the Florida Secretary of State of George W. Bush as the winner of the state of a Florida, a duty conferred on her by Florida law once she has received the returns showing who got the most votes. This is how it played on CBS News."
Special Report with Brit Hume viewers then saw a compilation of clips from Rather's November 26 CBS News special report at about 7:20pm ET:
-- "Florida's Republican Secretary of State
is about to announce the winner -- as she sees it and she decrees it -- of
the state's potentially decisive 25 electoral votes."
Afterward, Hume quipped: "Captain Dan, the newsman."
To read the MRC's Monday Media Reality Check by
Tim Graham, with the above plus additional Rather quotes, "Bush Wins?
Not As Democrat Dan Rather Sees It: CBS Anchor Suggests Florida's
Partisan Secretary of State is Far from the Final Nail in Al Gore's
Coffin," go to:
For the Adobe Acrobat PDF version, go to:
Early this afternoon ET, MRC Webmaster Andy Szul will post a RealPlayer video clip of what Hume showed. Go to the MRC home page or to the above Media Reality Check's HTML address.
While network reporters have conveyed some interest in when Gore might drop his fight, it's been nothing like the vehemence to "move on" displayed during the impeachment saga. So the MRC's Tim Graham recalled in putting together a Campaign 2000 Media Reality Check on Wednesday titled, "Patience Is a Very Partisan Thing: Network Stars Wanted the Impeachment Trial Cut Short, Hammered GOP for 'Lengthening the Process.'"
You can view this report as fax recipients saw it by
going to the Adobe Acrobat PDF version:
The pull-out quote in the middle of the page:
When Dan Wanted Immediate Closure
"Bob, is there or is there not any sense among the Senators, any talk among the Senators, that there's other very important business that needs to be attended to? Saddam Hussein has his aircraft in the air threatening U.S. fighting men and women in the military. There are questions about Social Security, what to do about health care. There's a long line of the people's business that seems to have been put aside and apparently is going to be put aside for weeks if not months now." -- Dan Rather to Bob Schieffer at about 1:25pm ET during the start of the Senate trial, the signing of the oath book by Senators, January 7.
The text of the November 29 Media Reality Check:
Three weeks and a day into Al Gore's Don't Get Snippy Courthouse Tour, the media keeps floating every potential scheme toward overturning the certified Bush presidency. Is this amazing patience a sign of great objectivity before declaring a winner? For the answer, see network reaction to the Senate impeachment trial in 1999. There were no sermons about the need for every legal avenue to be explored. Instead, the network stars felt the need to move on to the nation's business:
-- "Part of it is that you have conservative Republicans who just want to torture the President for as long as they humanly can. But part of it is that you have serious constitutionalists who really think the process should play out..." -- ABC's Cokie Roberts answering a question on why it was hard to start the trial, January 5 World News Tonight.
-- "But Senator, if there's no way that this is going to turn around, if the votes aren't there, why is your party dragging this thing out?...But what is certain is what the public sentiment is on this thing. People want it over with, and if the votes aren't there, why not, why go through all this business about witnesses? Why not just get it done?" -- Good Morning America co-host Charlie Gibson to Bob Dole, January 18.
-- "Bob Dole was here yesterday, a Republican, who said, look, the 67 votes aren't there and aren't going to be there to convict the President. So why, why drag this out when the public, so obviously, doesn't want it dragged out?" -- Gibson to Democrat George Mitchell, next day.
"Questions such as what to do about Social Security, improving the nation's schools, and the drug menace among America's youth basically are on hold. So is what to do about threats to health of the U.S. economy by what is happening in Asia and Brazil; the threats to U.S. security posed by Iraq, Iran, and North Korea; and the peril represented by a collapsing Russia and an emerging China -- all important parts of the people's business -- all remain pretty much on hold, while the trial drags on." -- Dan Rather commentary on CBS.com, January 25, 1999.
-- ABC legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin: "This may not be the final chapter. Kenneth Starr is still investigating.
He is weighing whether to indict President Clinton on these facts, so it
is worth keeping in mind whether an
actual jury, not a Senate jury, may yet hear the same evidence."
-- "You know who the hero of this whole thing is, it's that guy, what was his name, Richard Llamas, the guy who stood up in the Senate gallery last week and said, 'Good God vote and get over with this, will you.' If they had stretched this out for another two or three weeks, which if they would have had the kind of witnesses Bob [Novak] wanted to have, I want to tell you something, I think the people may have stormed the United States Capitol." -- Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt on a CNN Capital Gang special, February 11.
END Reprint of Media Reality Check
Hillary Clinton is scheduled to appear on Rosie O'Donnell's syndicated daytime TV show today, if it hasn't already aired in your market. Her program runs in the Washington, DC area at 3pm on WRC-TV. -- Brent Baker
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