CyberAlert -- 11/13/2000 -- Harris Blocking People's Will?

Harris Blocking People's Will?; Democrats Now Have "Moral High Ground"?; Did Nixon Really Win Popular Vote Because of Alabama? -- Back to today's CyberAlert

1) GMA's Diane Sawyer argued with a member of Florida's electoral board about the Secretary of State affirming 5pm Tuesday as the vote submission deadline for counties. She cited how Joe Lieberman "says it would be shocking basically to block the will of the counties who want to re-vote, that you have to trust the people."

2) "Seems like a real escalation this morning," George Stephanopoulos declared of the Secretary of State's announcement. "Have the Democrats," Charles Gibson suggested, "now gotten the moral high ground" because of the deadline and the GOP going to court?

3) Did JFK really win the popular vote without regard to any fraud? Possibly, National Review suggested in recalling how he got credit for votes for non-national Democratic ticket electors in Alabama.

4) Prominent reporters refused to tell's Jack Shafer for whom they voted for President, the same question which revealed 12 of's top 13 editors supported Al Gore.

>>> New videos up on the MRC Web page. MRC Webmaster Andy Szul has posted RealPlayer video clips of events chronicled in recent CyberAlerts, including Alec Baldwin denouncing GOP hypocrisy in saying they were following the law during impeachment but won't now and urging George Bush to call for a re-vote, David Letterman's audience booing at the mention of Hillary Clinton's name and Tom Brokaw the morning after the election predicting the public will demand the electoral college system be "yanked." Go to: <<<

Correction: The November 10 CyberAlert Extra reprinted a Media Reality Check by Rich Noyes about how the three plaintiffs in a lawsuit claiming they were confused by the Palm Beach County ballot all have political experience. Here's how one was identified: "Abigail McCarthy also claims she cast the wrong vote, but she's a County Commissioner...." Actually, her first name is Alberta and she's a Delray Beach City Commissioner, not a County Commissioner, but the point stands that she's not a political novice.


This morning Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford appeared on all three morning shows, but ABC's Good Morning America gave him the toughest drilling about the expected affirmation from Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris that state law sets 5pm Tuesday as the deadline for counties to file their certified electoral results. Harris did indeed issue such a statement later in the morning. (Joe Lieberman appeared on both GMA and Today.)

ABC's Diane Sawyer introduced the interview segment by putting the burden on Harris for erecting a roadblock: "Alright, so the key question for the morning remains, I guess one of the key questions this morning, is the Florida Secretary of State absolutely wedded to that deadline of 5pm tomorrow, no matter what re-counts have and have not taken place? Secretary of State Katherine Harris declined all TV requests for interviews this morning, but joining us now is her colleague, who is Bob Crawford. He is Florida's Agriculture Commissioner. He is also on the state Election Canvassing Commission. And by the way, he replaced Governor Jeb Bush on the election board. We spoke to him by phone moments ago. Is that 5pm deadline tomorrow afternoon locked in?"

Sawyer pounded away at how the deadline can and should be delayed:
-- "But as we know, the Secretary of State has discretionary powers and we just heard Senator Lieberman, vice presidential candidate to the United States, says it would be shocking basically to block the will of the counties who want to re-vote, that you have to trust the people -- the re-count."
-- "But again, as we said, the Secretary of State does have discretionary powers and you're going to meet today, or she is going to meet today with members of the Gore team. Is this just a pro forma meeting? Is nothing going to happen if she's set in stone?"
-- "A Newsweek survey says that two-thirds of the American people, or more than two-thirds, 72 percent of the American people say they'd rather have a fair, detailed count and wait for the results than not. So they're prepared to wait. Does that affect you at all?"

As Harris explained in her statement, the law is quite firm. To read her statement, go to:


Some liberal ruminations on Good Morning America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, as George Stephanopoulos declared the Secretary of State's announcement "seems like a real escalation this morning," Charles Gibson wondered if because of that and the GOP going to court "have the Democrats now gotten the moral high ground?" and Diane Sawyer stressed how the public is willing to wait if that would result in "fairness."

Here's a hunk of the discussion from today's Good Morning America on ABC:

Diane Sawyer: "What do you make of this morning's turn of events?"
George Stephanopoulos: "Seems like a real escalation this morning. If this deadline is held to, and you know, to be fair, Secretary of State Harris has been warning all week that she's going to stick to this deadline, but if this is held to, what you're likely to see is various counties in the state of Florida also filing lawsuits to extend the deadline. If that happens, I think there's no natural end to the lawsuits."
Sawyer: "She does have, as we said, discretionary powers under the law for extraordinary interference with the state electoral process. Is this going to be, is she hiding behind this, or is this a real question of law?"
Stephanopoulos: "Well, it's hard to know. I mean, Republicans will say the law is the law and the law couldn't be anymore clear than the deadline is at 5 o'clock. What the Democrats have said, and Kendall Coffey, the lawyer for the Gore campaign, has sent a letter to Secretary of State Harris, and said this was clearly meant to apply to officials who were just not doing their job, not the ones who are trying hard to finish the recounts."

Charles Gibson: "There's been a lot of question as to which party has the moral high ground, and a lot of Democrats have been worried that if the public saw them trying to drag this out that the Republicans would have the moral high ground. But now the Republicans are in court trying to cut short the hand counts, and the Republican Secretary of State is saying 'Have these votes in by 5 o'clock tomorrow, that's when we'll count them.' Have the Democrats now gotten the moral high ground?"
Stephanopoulos: "Well, they clearly think so. They think that if they're behind the principle of every vote counts and every vote should be counted, they're going to have the moral high ground, and you saw Senator Lieberman talk about Republicans delaying now because by sticking to the deadline, they're having more suits. I believe they think they do. You know, the Democrats are under a lot of pressure, Vice President Gore was under a lot of pressure over the weekend from other Democrats who simply say once every vote is counted in Florida, you have to forego all future lawsuits. In fact, he was considering giving a speech. I think this action this morning means that is less likely right now."
Gibson: "Well, Senator Lieberman said when I talked to him he wouldn't rule out the possibility that they would go into court. They haven't figured it out yet, but they wouldn't rule out the possibility of going into court, even after we get a final Florida total."
Stephanopoulos: "Right. I think that is unlikely if they actually do get a full re-count throughout the state of Florida, but if they don't, I think they will go on, and they're also considering, for example, joining the counties now in their lawsuits to extend the deadline."
Sawyer: "So George, when we see the Newsweek poll that the majority of the American people say they're content to wait if it means there's fairness in the recount."
Stephanopoulos: "Up to a point, probably."


With Al Gore's team claiming his popular vote victory gives him the moral high ground, National Review today raised the likelihood that President John Kennedy did not win the popular vote even without considering any vote fraud. In Alabama in 1960 Democratic electors were split between those supporting the national ticket and segregationists opposed to the national ticket, but Kennedy got credit for the votes for both slates.

The National Review's John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru disclosed in their Washington Bulletin e-mail report today:

Nixon Defeats Kennedy!
Did Nixon win the popular vote in 1960?

The history books say John F. Kennedy not only beat Richard Nixon in the 1960 Electoral College vote, but also in the national vote -- though only by a hair. This latter victory, meaningless in any constitutional sense, carries with it an important kind of claim, as Vice President Gore and George W. Bush are now discovering. The winner is said, as Bill Daley put it last week, to be "the people's choice."

Yet JFK may not have won the popular vote, even if we set aside all the charges of fraud in Illinois and Texas. JFK is typically credited with 57 percent of the vote in Alabama. But he probably doesn't deserve it. Here's George Mason University's Gordon Tullock, in a letter published by the New York Review of Books on November 10, 1988:
"The year 1960 was a period in which the southern whites after a long, long period of solid support of Democrats were beginning their shift into their present Republican voting in presidential elections. As a first step in that direction, a number of 'true Democratic' movements were set up in the South, the purpose of which was to avoid endorsing that national Democratic candidates and at the same time not endorse the national Republican candidates. Alabama has a primary election for presidential
electors. In the primary election a slate of anti-Kennedy electors won six of the seven nominations and five were won by pro-Kennedy electors. The six anti-Kennedy electors then proceeded to carry on a vigorous and active campaign. The pro-Kennedy electors stayed home and said nothing. The ultimate outcome was 324,000 for all eleven Democratic electors. The anti-Kennedy electors received eight thousand more votes than the pro-Kennedy electors.

"The popular vote is very difficult to disentangle. The above figures [published in a reference guide, and crediting JFK with 324,050 Alabama votes and RN with 237,981] assume that the people who voted for all eleven of the electors were pro-Kennedy. Obviously, this is too simple, but what should be substituted for it is by no means obvious. I personally would suggest that we simply discard all these votes in the popular total on the grounds that we can't tell what these voters thought. Another possibility would be to divide the popular vote cast for these eleven electors in the same ratio as the popular vote in the earlier primary. Either of these corrections would lead to Nixon's having more popular votes nationally than Kennedy."

It's something Al Gore may want to keep in mind this week

END Reprint of National Review report.

For National Review Online and its daily analysis of the ongoing campaign, go to:


"Who'd the Press Corps Vote For?" Last Thursday's Jack Shafer updated readers on his effort to get prominent reporters to divulge for whom they voted, as did for its staff the day before the election. He was unsuccessful as no one he contacted would say for whom they pulled the lever, or followed an arrow to punch out.

As outlined in the November 7 CyberAlert Extra, listed how "nearly 100 percent of its senior editorial staff planned to vote for Al Gore. Specifically, 12 of 13 people holding positions above copy editor or editorial assistant, though those lower-lever people were also near-universally in support of Gore. And the 13th guy isn't behind Bush: He's for libertarian Harry Browne." For details, go to:

On November 9, deputy editor Jack Shafer, the guy who voted for Harry Browne, relayed the reaction to his inquiries to top name reporters:
"The next time I poll a bunch of journalists, remind me to conduct it in a bar.
"On Monday of this week, I announced the death of journalistic objectivity. It's no secret, I wrote, that most reporters are opinionated cusses, and most of them are Democrats. And, I wrote, the sooner they own up to their opinions, the better -- the better for them, for journalism, and for our readers. Having opinions doesn't necessarily disqualify reporters from doing good journalism. In fact, I wrote, it's almost impossible to do journalism of any kind -- short of stenography -- without having an informed point of view. And making a full disclosure of who we vote for could provide our readers with a valuable data point from which to judge the fairness and accuracy of our coverage.
"That's the short form of the argument. Having buried objectivity, I disclosed who got my vote for President (Harry Browne) as did my Slate colleagues. Then, in an effort to expand the circle of self-disclosure, I queried 33 prominent political journalists to see who they voted for.
"Only eight journalists responded to the poll, and none gave up he name of their man for President...."

Those who replied but refused to divulge their political preference: Walter Isaacson of Time, Joe Klein of The New Yorker, William Powers of National Journal, Bob Davis of the Wall Street Journal, Michael Isikoff of Newsweek, Joseph Lelyveld of the New York Times, Jodie T. Allen of U.S. News & World Report, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times and Matt Cooper of Time.

To read their reasoning, go to: -- Brent Baker

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