Although we were led to believe that you were interested in balanced reporting, it was obvious within the first segment of last night's broadcast that you had no interest in balance whatsoever.
Instead of looking at the entire state of Florida and the widespread voter fraud, ballot manipulation, civil rights violations and so on, as usual you picked tiny part of the whole picture and focused on that. In so doing, you completely lost sight of Ted's opening line, about the fact that the voter fraud committed in Florida stole the election from Al Gore, who would have won had all the ballots been counted. Instead, you focused on one county and dismissed the entire incident as anecdotal, ignoring the larger issue and thus, again as usual, trying to play down the illegitimacy of Bush's reign.
I confess after that first segment, I turned the show off. I have no doubt, though, that you also failed to address the report of the Civil Rights Commission because that would have forced you to broadcast unequivocally that Bush was never elected at all, that he lost the Florida vote, and only an illegal intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, based on the most arbitrary and capricious "logic" that defies all true reason and logic other than "bought and paid for," handed Bush the Presidency.
I will never watch Nightline again, other than to find out who your sponsors are so I can boycott them. Last night's sponsor was an easy one to boycott - I don't buy Philip Morris products, but I bet they gave you a whole lot of money to whitewash the truth: Bush and his entire administration is illegitimate and should be removed by whatever means are necessary to restore democracy to our nation.
SHAME ON YOU!
I would like to know why Nightline does not have the guts to report to the American people the ambiguities and indiscretions surrounding the Florida elections.
Considering that the majority of Americans voted for a Democrat in the last election, don't you feel that the majority are also being severely underrepresented by the media regarding this issue?
As a Democrat and an educated viewer, I deeply resent this lack of truth in the media and can assure you that this will be remembered by Democrats for a long time to come.
There are thousands of angry Americans out there who are reaching a boiling point because the American media refuses to tell us what happened in Florida. Maybe your journalists ought to get out ther e on the street and listen to how your vastly underrepresented public feels about this?
Why don't you do what you originally went to journalism school for - to tell the truth?
The Nightline segment on Duval County was the first television show that I have seen since November that had half a clue about what happened in Florida. This was refreshing. However, I have to make the following comments:
1. Referring, as Mr. Koppel did, to sworn testimony taken under sanction of perjury as "anecdotal" is not acceptable and characteristic of the problem the media has with reporting the Florida story.
2. The reassurances of Nightline that finding out who actually won the election will not change George Bush's presidency sounded much like the claims in Milosevich's Yugoslavia after that recent election. Since the historical stability of the United States has been based on free and fair elections, such reassurances have exactly the same merit as Milosevich's reassurances.
3. The claims of the Republican in Duval Co. that "it's not worth the win" to have people so angry about the illegal means by which the election was won may have been sincere. However, since literally trillions of dollars were riding on the outcome of the election, viewers are not so naive as to believe that senior Republicans felt the way that county official did.
4. There were several inaccuracies or misleading statements. First, a statement that thousands of white voters had trouble voting segued into a comment that large numbers of Motor Voter applications were lost; motor Voter applications disproportionately affect poor and Democratic constituencies. Also, Koppel claimed that Brazile was angry at her party. She may well be, but the interview didn't support that.
5. Also, in the misleading category, statements that it's not necessary to prove a conspiracy to prove racial discrimination were accurate, but in light of the preliminary report of the US Civil Rights Commission, remarkably underplayed. Any disparate outcome is sufficient to trigger Sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act. When Nightline correctly noted that denial of the right to vote is part of African American history, that was accurate. It should have been added that large parts of Florida are under Section 5 specifically because violations are part of quite recent history.
6. Numerous illegalities have already been well-documented, notably the Martin and Seminole ballot application cases which may lead to prosecutions. A lawsuit filed in Duval County by Corrine Brown and others made specific allegations of illegal behavior; the suit was dismissed because the installation of Bush made it, so the court said, moot. The burden of enforcing the law should not be on the backs of ordinary citizens. When that happens, where can people take their grievances except to the streets?
This segment on Florida is a positive start. We sincerely hope that there will be much, much more.
However inadvertent it may be, Nightline is playing the racist card. In the election of 2000, Floridians thought likely to vote Democratic were disenfranchised en masse--all were casualties, not targets. The deliberate intent was to place one candidate in office and keep the other out, and it worked. The objective was accomplished in a myriad of carefully planned and heavily financed maneuvers within the Florida election system itself, which obviously had to involve state officials from the lowest to the highest level. The result was a blatant abuse of political power of immense proportion, the extent of which is yet to be assessed. The victim was not one race but democracy itself.
Ted Koppel's way of diminishing the ragged wounds of the election was to ultimately blame "the system." Bushwah. An election is not carried out by a "system." An election is carried out (and stolen) by myriad small acts through which the guarding of the sanctity of the vote can be turned off like water in a spigot here and a spigot there. One authoritarian poll watcher speaking sternly to a confused Haitian-American. One patrolman stopping dark-skinned motorists. One supervisor ignoring the court's order to recount the ballots. One off-the-hook telephone in the election office. One poll running out of ballots. One polling place with insufficient parking. One letter giving wrong information to supervisors about ex-offenders. One lost ballot box. One malfunctioning voting device. One candidate's cousin influencing the election. Those are not the results of a faceless system to which our angst can be neatly deflected. They are individual acts resulting from choices made by thousands of partisans, in a sea of individual choices made with one common intended effect -- the quashing of Gore votes.
I appreciate your efforts to reveal at least a small portion of the numerous "flaws" in the Florida 2000 election (3-28-01), however, your focus seemed to concentrate more on the African American "perception" of targeting, rather than an overall analysis of how seriously (and curiously) flawed the election was in general statewide:
The grievances go on and on, as testified by the voters to the Florida legislature (which conveniently changed their legislative agenda overnight to cut short the testimony), testified to reporters, public officials and representatives, the Civil Rights Commission, and others.
- Voters' rights blatantly violated in numerous cases
- polling locations moved without notice
- many poll workers refusing to assist handicapped voters, confused voters and non-English speaking voters
- some precinct workers harassing and rushing voters through the booths
- some refusing to give voters a second ballot to correct their mistake (when Florida law allows up to 3 ballots)
- disallowing voters with registration cards to vote because their name "mysteriously" wasn't listed
- phone lines to the data base being blocked
- voters who had moved and made their changes known months in advance told their cards were in the mail, then when not received told not to worry - they'd have no problem voting, but were turned down at the polls
- voters mailed sample butterfly ballots which looked entirely different than the actual ballot itself, and who were distinctly instructed to punch to the right of the candidate
- specific instructions to democrats from a republican election supervisor to "vote every page"
- voters carpooling being stopped and harassed for not having a taxi license
- voter reports of actual police barricades
- eligible voters denied their vote because they were incorrectly listed as felons (a $4 M. project)
- overvotes not counted when the intent of the voter was distinctly obvious
- large groups of voters who were told that their precinct had run out of ballots, then later saw other voters entering and voting
- overseas military ballots that came in late by the thousands without a witness signature and/or a postmark that were forced TO BE counted
In my opinion, the Florida 2000 election process showed a deliberate preconceived plot on the part of Governor Bush (publicly noted for questionable practices), the Secretary of State (Bush supporter) and other Republican operatives in official positions to do everything in their power to "win Florida" in their relentless support for GW Bush.
The massive voter turnout amongst democratic voters in Florida was predetermined and highly anticipated by the officials for months in advance of the election.
It is obvious that the Sec of State's actions and rulings concerning the hand recounts blatantly forged into naturally accepted Florida laws to block the process - besides the fact that her distinct Bush bias and partiality proved her incapable of asserting to the state, in her official capacity, that a legal hand recount may indeed proceed unhindered in an election "too close to call" with so many irregularities. A NATIONAL PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION HUNG IN THE BALANCE OVER FLORIDA. A hand recount, as stated by law, for each district in itself to determine the intent of the voter. Instead she stopped the process while aiding and abetting and enabling the Bush operatives to ensue their legal battles (from a Bully Pulpit) to prevent a Gore victory - all the way to the special selective political interests of the unprecedented Supreme Court's majority ruling.
BEYOND all of these exhaustive political entanglements rest one very simple human ("common man") perception: HOW COULD ANY UPSTANDING CANDIDATE TRY TO BLOCK A RECOUNT IN A CONTESTED ELECTION AND PROCEED TO TAKE OFFICE WITH THE LEGITIMACY OF HIS VICTORY IN QUESTION? (In my small community hand recounts in a contested election are a totally accepted legal practice and are always welcomed by all candidates involved. A candidate just couldn't honorably "show face" if they tried to block a recount, as they want to prove legitimacy and honor upon their election to the voters.)
There is no doubt in my mind that grave voter disenfranchisement occurred in Florida. Election laws were broken. Illegal operations occurred. At least four members of the Supreme Court should have recused themselves for their Bush partiality. Election 2000 continues to be the gravest assault on our democracy in recent history, as well as quite possibly bringing our nation as close to a most dangerous form of totalitarianism than we have ever experienced to date - as dictated by corporate interest, power and corruption, and perceivably some right wing fascist ideology.
Our mainstream media has not done well. Pre-election coverage was blatantly biased - post election coverage was blatantly biased and controlled by the "talking heads" of corporate political special interests. Current coverage of the events and state of our nation today projects special interest control through sound-byte journalism, punditizing, limited information, misinformation, disinformation and trivial information. The FCC is not asserting the ETHICS of broadcasting - "fairness" to the listening audience - in serving the public and their interests. The media is at an extreme height of serving the interest of corporate backers. This is very dangerous for a country that is based upon the foundation of democracy, liberty, justice and freedom. Indeed, is the foundation of our democracy in a state of jeopardy?
However, thank you for "touching the iceberg" in your report last night. It is an issue that needs to be covered. The majority of the voters in our nation are upset and in a state of shock and/or depression. Communication is the only means by which to help a nation to restore trust within the system. Isolation and harbored hostility without a vehicle for constructive dialogue and equal voice is not a healthy state.
Justice Steven Breyer's words: "There is no justification for the court's remedy... we risk a self-inflicted wound - a wound that may harm not just the court, but the nation." This HAS gravely harmed our nation, and the media in a TRUE DEMOCRACY can help us to somehow heal.
Please read the reports at democratic-alliance.com, democrats.com, Gregory Palast from the Observer, Guardian Media Group (Monday, Feb.5th), thenation.com, salon.com and onlinejournal.com and the UK Guardian for starters.
Thank you and thank you for listening.
Your program on voting problems in Florida, while perhaps interesting by itself, misses the larger point. Bush and his cronies stole the election, not just on election day but all during the aftermath, culminating in the tantamount-to-treason ruling from the Supreme Court. By dancing all around this and not addressing the matter directly you make yourselves enablers of the criminals who've stolen the government and are now bent on forcing their fascistic agenda on the country in furtherance of their goal of creating a theocratic-flavored autocracy. Better you should devote every episode of Nightline to exposing the fraud being daily perpetrated against the nation.
At that, let us consider how Nightline began. It was during the Iran Hostage Siege, which then-candidate Reagan manipulated (in violation of U.S. laws prohibiting 'private' foreign policy) that your program began. Then it was the October Surprise. Now it's the theft of democracy by a clique headed by a son of the former spy-master. Report this. Dig into it. Bring it all to light. But please don't keep going on with this business as usual foolishness, looking at issues as if they were all separate from one another; look at them all in context together. Tell your viewers what's truly going on, how the nation has been hijacked by a greedy gang that uses the right words as a screen to divert attention from its real agenda.
Well, I guess you guys are just getting older. Or maybe you like what is going on around the world or in the market. At least Clinton tried mightily. I will still go to the BBC, The Guardian, Salon, The Nation and Democrats.com for my news summary with references. You guys can get in bed with old liberals who protested the Vietnam war (now "Neo-Conservatives against racial justice) all you want. You were their cohorts then and you still are without realizing that you switched sides in the process.
I would remind you that we studied under Republicans for the last eight years. We know that they loaded the court and stole the election and no amount of feel good storytelling will change that.
If a thief comes into your home and you fight with the police to get it defined as a theft you don't then give them amnesty and say that we will fix it so they never come back. They will come back again and again. GWB got a salary increase of 100% while the Democrat's President got a bill for lying about sex of over ten million dollars. Our children will die from GWB's selling the government's bed to the pollution crowd. Clinton only gave them one night in the bedroom, this illegitimate crowd gave them a room for the duration of their illegitimacy. You should have to live in Picher, Oklahoma or Grants, New Mexico after this crowd destroyed the lives of their workers and left the place so polluted that a clean up is not possible. Now Cheney is going to take another look at Nuclear Power? How about Black lung and Silicosis? You make me sick, literally. Age is tough, its time for you old firebrands to retire. You've lost your spark.
Nothing can change who was sworn in, you said. Well, the Vietnam war was stopped and Woodward and Bernstein triumphed. Your failure to push Iran/Contra on a popular President made possible the death of 200,000 Mayan Indians in Central America. Tonight was another failure of will on your part. America is weeping. How many children will die because of the pro-business stance of such idiots as embarrassed themselves on Moyers the other night? Well Moyers is a real Christian and not these synthetic ones that believe that saving an accidental child in a loveless liaison will create life while they gut the labor rules that would give them a shot at a life.
You are spreading a *Structural Incompetency Virus around the airways. It is spread by a lack of character, courage and competence. It is so bad that even those who are talented are precluded from practicing that talent by virtue of the organizational structure in which that individual is embedded. And to quote further an old teacher of mine, "nothing is complex to those who know how to do it." Nightline tonight was not what happened in Florida it was how to ignore what happened and no amount of "getting over it" will change that.
Ray Evans Harrell
I would also like to point out to Democrats.com that there has been as much voter fraud in my home state Tennessee as there was in Florida. Similar if not the same incidents occurred in Tennessee as they did Florida with as much if not more loss of votes. (Did the Republicans hold training sessions?) This has been completely unpublicized by everyone in the state and the nation. Please help me expose this further. Investigations are being held as we speak at Fisk University, Nashville. Bu$h came here and claimed Tennessee as Bu$h country several times during his campaign. I wonder how he knew? My husband is a UAW Saturn worker where there are over 6000 union employees (mostly democrats). Most of them are concentrated in the Maury County area, and the city of Columbia. This is where some of the most severe voting fraud was found (moved polls etc.). All union Saturn employees are transferred in from another state. Mostly Michigan. And many of them are African-Americans. There is great animosity between the locals and the Saturn people. They hate us. Much of the voter fraud "Bush Cheated" sticker on it and drive to his house and tell him to get his ass out here and help us!! I have written the TN State Attorney General, TN Democratic Party, DNC, and Ashcroft. The whole $election needs to be investigated including the Extreme Court, and if Republicans are found guilty then Bush should be removed and replaced with the real president, Gore and Judges impeached!
So it didn't say a lot that it should have... like the fact that Gore is ahead in the count...it's a start. I believe it's only a beginning-- that capitalism being what it is, the whole thing will come out (being financially viable)-- especially if we keep the spotlight turned on. I sent this note of encouragement to the program:
Thank you for your ground-breaking report on the Florida election. It is only the beginning of the investigations that will follow, leading us along the path that Nixon was forced to take in the early 70's, resulting in his resignation - and rightfully so.
I already sent nightline's producer an e-mail
mentioning these points. In fact, I challenged them
on why they refered to the complaints of Florida
voters as "anecdotes" and reminded them that witness
testimony in a trial is an anecdote under oath. I
then suggested that the voters in Florida would no
doubt be happy to give sworn testimony if only someone
would thoroughly investigate what happened there in a
serious manner. I pointed out the reports coming from
Tennessee and suggested that either Blacks are very
paranoid or else there really is something to these
reports and mentioned Palast's investigative articles
on the subject and the BBC program. I ended by saying
that, as a white New York voter, I feel that my vote
didn't count, either, because the Supreme Court
stopped the vote count even though there was
sufficient time to decide on a standard and complete
the count. Therefore, considering that the events
occurred in the "winning" candidate's brother's state,
and that there are connections between Bush, the
Republicans, DBT, and the Supreme Court partisanship,
this was more like a coup than an election.