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Florida Recount Media Critique (1): Gore Wins, Media Lies (Yet Again)
Paul Lukasiak

One hestitates to use words like "media conspiracy".

But in the case of the initial reporting on the NORC survey of the Florida ballots, there are no other words to describe it.

Just in case anyone has any questions, the answer is that Gore won in Florida. He received the most legal votes. He received the most votes that should have been counted as a result of the mandatory machine recount. He received the most votes that could be counted by machine. He received the most votes when ballots are judged based on voter intent.

But, according to the media consortium, he would not have won a statewide recount of undervotes. Not because he didn't "win" when all of the undervotes were counted, but because each county was going to decide HOW those votes were to be counted - and the Republican Party controls most of Florida's counties.

There is simply too much to process at this point to provide a comprehensive overview of what actually happened in Florida, and how the media is not merely spinning the results of the NORC study, but telling flat out lies while covering up unquestionable instances of corruption on the part of Florida election officials.

A few examples will have to suffice….

When compared against the information that is currently being provided by the NORC consortium, it turns out that the Miami Herald data set is, on the whole, an accurate reflection of what appears on the ballots. The consortium is reporting that, under a "two-corner detached" rule, Duval County would have given Bush a net gain of 261 votes. According to the Herald data, Bush would have received 267 additional net votes.

The Duval count is significant not just because it affirms the overall reliability of the Herald data set; it demonstrates the extreme bias of the media consortium itself because it assumes that the use of the "two corner chad standard" would be acceptable to Judge Terry Lewis despite precedents from two courts stating unequivocally that counties could not use an arbitrary 'two-corner detached standard'.

Based on the Herald data, the lead story should be that Florida election officials threw the election to Bush in places like Escambia County. Escambia County had completed its court mandated undervote count and reported that Gore had received a net gain of three votes. But, according to the Herald data, Gore's net gain in undervoted ballots that clearly showed voter intent was 25 votes.

In other words, the media consortium is sitting on clear evidence that election officials in heavily Republican Escambia County committed election fraud. Instead, the media consortium is treating Escambia County's reported totals as if there is nothing wrong with them. The Escambia County data from the Herald indicates that there was widespread fraud in the counting of ballots in that county. Because of the overall reliability of the Herald data set, it can be assumed that the consortium members have access to the same evidence of fraud. Certainly, the discrepancy noted between what the undervoted ballots show, and what Escambia reported, should be raising all sorts of alarms. Yet none of the media consortium members have bothered to even note this discrepancy in its initial reporting.

Despite having over a year to read Florida election law, not one member of the media consortium has noted that over 2000 fully legal votes that should have been included in every canvass of returns was never counted. Under Florida law, if you put a mark next to Gore's name, then wrote in Gore's name, it is a legal vote for Gore. This rule is specified twice in Florida law, and the statutes demand that ballots be counted in this fashion. Gore lost a minimum of 500 fully legal net votes as a result of the failure of county officials to count votes the way the law requires them to be counted. Not surprisingly, eighty percent of these uncounted ballots came from five heavily Republican counties. Yet the fact that Al Gore was literally robbed of legal votes by Republican election officials is given no notice by the media consortium. (In fact, even under the consortium's own 'undervote' scenario, had these fully legal votes been included in the totals, Gore would be President today.)

Not only does the consortium ignore these fully legal votes, At least one of consortium members (The St Petersberg Times) is lying by telling its readers that they are not legal votes.

The Chicago Tribune goes even further in displaying a clear and unequivocal bias toward providing Bush with the legitimacy that he does not deserve when it writes:

In fact, it probably is impossible to design a study that would determine the winner of the presidential election. That is particularly true given the degree to which the Florida election was tainted. Thousands of felons voted, those not registered were allowed to vote, some voted twice, and even the dead voted in small numbers. Other voters were erroneously turned away from the polls.

Note that no mention is made of the thousands of voters who were illegally denied their right to vote because they were misidentified by the state as ineligible felons. Also note that no mention is made of the fact that poor ballot design literally disenfranchised tens of thousands of Florida voters, and that the overwhelming majority of these voters intended to vote for Al Gore.

Indeed, despite the considerable evidence that is in their possession that, if everyone who had intended to vote had had their intentions recorded, that Al Gore would have won by tens of thousands of votes, it is difficult if not impossible to learn this fact from the consortium reporting.

But if there is one single piece of evidence that demonstrates that what we have here is a deliberate conspiracy by the media consortium to hide the illegitimacy of George W. Bush it is this: When the Miami Herald data was published, the members of the consortium went to great lengths to explain that their ballot survey would be different from the Herald's - that it would not be concerned with who would have won some now-mythical recount based on various projected scenarios. The consortium members emphasized that their review of the ballots would be different.

Instead, it did exactly the same thing that the Herald did - create unrealistic scenarios under which Bush would win the Presidency, while downplaying the fact that their study revealed not just that tens of thousands more Floridians had intended to vote for Al Gore, but that hundreds if not thousands more had actually voted for Gore, and never had their votes counted.

Make no mistake. Al Gore won in Florida. Under any consistent legal standard of counting the ballots, Gore won. The fact that the media consortium is lying about the results is more an indication of just how debased our democracy has become, than it is a reflection of what appears on the ballots that were examined.