The Bush Propaganda Machine Strikes Again in Florida
On November 7, Al Gore defeated George W. Bush by over 540,000 votes nationally. In Florida, the results on election day were simply "too close to call." And that remains true 107 days later – regardless of the widely-publicized report that a recount in Miami-Dade would not have given Gore enough votes to win Florida.
George W. Bush occupies the White House as the result of a powerful effort to manipulate public opinion through the news media, led by chief strategist Karl Rove. This propaganda campaign continues to this day, and will not stop until it has convinced Americans that Bush "won" Florida – regardless of the facts.
Bush's propaganda campaign began at 8 p.m. on November 7, immediately after the TV networks projected Al Gore as the winner in Florida. Karl Rove's team went into action, and the networks quickly reversed themselves and put Florida in the "undecided" column. Bush himself made a few calls to his cousin John Ellis at FOX News, and within a few hours FOX and the other networks declared Bush the winner in Florida.
Since Election Day, we have learned of numerous ways in which corrupt Republican election officials prevented Democratic votes from being cast or counted, including a fraudulent "felon purge" that removed thousands of qualified black voters from the rolls. We have also learned how error-prone machines and poorly-designed ballots cost Gore tens of thousands of votes among black and elderly voters.
But the media's role in declaring Bush the winner - before all of the votes were counted - was just as important in stealing the Presidency. The main role of the TV networks was to deny Gore the opportunity for a fair and accurate recount. As soon as the networks declared Bush the winner in Florida, Gore was permanently on the defensive.
First, the projections by the networks persuaded Gore to call Bush and privately offer his concession. Gore was just about to concede publicly when he discovered that the election was much closer than the networks were reporting. So Gore did what any candidate would do - he withdrew his concession and asked his oppponent to wait until the vote count was completed and a true winner was declared.
Karl Rove's propaganda machine switched its focus from the vote count to Al Gore. Suddenly, Gore was portrayed as a "sore loser" who refused to concede even though he had lost. Day after day, the media sided with the Bush campaign in attacking Gore for asking for the most basic principle of Democracy - that every vote should be counted.
This propaganda campaign continues to this day.
On February 26, the Miami Herald declared "Undervotes Support Bush Win." USA Today said "Recount Study: Gore Still Loses." Once again, the public could hear the unmistakable sound of the corporate media slamming the steel door shut on Gore's chances of finally proving that he won Florida.
The essence of the Herald/USA Today story is that their recount of 10,644 undervotes produced a net gain of only 49 votes for Gore. So if the Gore campaign had succeeded in persuading Katherine Harris to wait for the completion of recounts of undervotes in four counties - Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Volusia - Gore would not have gained enough votes to overcome Bush's 537-vote lead, according to the Herald and USA Today.
But this is simply false. On January 27, the Palm Beach Post completed a recount of 4,513 uncounted votes in Palm Beach and reported a net gain of 682 votes for Gore. Combined with the 49 votes from Miami-Dade, Katherine Harris would have had to certify a Gore victory by 194 votes.
But this argument is largely pointless, because Katherine Harris refused to wait for those recounts. As a result, the election ended up in the hands of the Florida Supreme Court. And after listening carefully to the arguments from both sides, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the only fair and accurate way to determine the winner was to recount the votes in EVERY county.
The Florida Supreme Court did two things: first, they ordered Harris to include the partial recounts in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, which added 383 votes to Gore's total and reduced Bush's lead to 154. Then they ordered all of Florida's counties to start counting. And as the nation watched, election workers in all of Florida's counties began reviewing every uncounted vote.
This was the moment when the U.S. Supreme Court threw a thunderbolt from the sky. Violating every principle of Anglo-American law, a narrow partisan Republican majority declared that a fair and accurate recount would cause "irreparable harm" to George W. Bush. They overruled the Florida Supreme Court and ordered a halt to Florida's recount. As the nation watched in shock, election workers throughout Florida stopped counting and went home.
This injunction by the U.S. Supreme Court has been universally denounced. A group of law professors from across the country - now numbering 637 - ran an ad in the New York Times declaring: "By stopping the vote count in Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court used its power to act as political partisans, not as judges of a court of law."
Two days later, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its final ruling in Bush v. Gore. Once again, a narrow Republican majority ruled in favor of Bush. Many judicial scholars believe this was the Supreme Court's most lawless and outrageous ruling since Plessy v. Ferguson.
Because the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the recount, Americans still do not know who really won Florida. But we at Democrats.com have been carefully tracking the partial results reported by news organizations throughout Florida. We even hired a team of our own to count the votes in Gadsden County.
As of today, Gore leads Bush in Florida by 1,017. This tally includes recounts conducted by the Miami Herald, the Palm Beach Post, the Orlando Sentinel, the Tampa Tribune, the Naples Daily News, and Democrats.com. It includes a gain of 682 votes for Gore in Palm Beach - which was more than enough to erase the 537 Bush lead certified by Katherine Harris. It also includes unexpected gains for Gore in Republican counties like Lake (130) Hillsborough (120), and Gadsden (40).
Still, these recounts vastly understate Gore's victory because they focus on undervotes, rather than overvotes. According to a study by the
Washington Post, Gore would have gained 28,510 votes if all of Florida's counties used an "instant-check" voting machine that detected overvotes and gave voters an opportunity to fix their ballots. These more expensive machines were used to a greater extent in Republican counties, a critical "equal protection" issue that was ignored by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the coming weeks, the recount of Florida's 67 counties will be completed. Then - and only then - will the American people know who really won Florida. Given Gore's current lead, we fully expect Gore to be declared the winner. And then Americans will have to confront the fundamental question: how did George W. Bush steal the Presidency?
When the Republican propaganda machine tells us to "get over it," we quote Florida Congresswoman Corrine Brown, who said: "We will NEVER get over it. We will take this to our graves!" This country spent $70 million to investigate Bill Clinton's sex life - and continues to pursue Clinton long after his departure from office. But this country cannot find a penny to investigate the biggest crime against democracy in our nation's history. We will not rest until the truth is known - and until the thieves who stole the Presidency are removed from office and brought to justice for their crimes.