Michael Moore: It was election night 2000, and every thing seemed to be going as planned.
Tom Brokaw: In New York, Al Gore is our projected winner.
Dan Rather: The Garden State is green for Gore.
Peter Jennings: We project Mr. Gore the winner in Delaware. This state has voted with the winner in every…
Dan Rather: Excuse me, one second. I’m so sorry to interrupt you. Mike, you know I wouldn’t do this if it weren’t big. Florida goes for Al Gore.
Woman newscaster at CNN: CNN announces that we call Florida in the Al Gore column.
Michael Moore: Then, something called the Fox News Channel… called the election in favor of the other guy.
Brit Hume: I interrupt you, Fox News now projects George W. Bush the winner in Florida… and thus it appears the winner of the presidency of the United States.
Michael Moore: All of a sudden, the other networks said: “Hey, if Fox said it, it must be true.”
Tom Brokaw: All of us at the networks made a mistake… and projected Florida in the Al Gore column… It was our mistake.
Michael Moore: Now what most people don’t know is that the man in charge of the decision desk at Fox that night… the man who called it for Bush… was none other than Bush’s first cousin, John Ellis. How does someone like Bush get away with something like this?
George W. Bush: *chuckling*
Michael Moore: Well, first, it helps if your brother is the governor of the state in question.
George W. Bush: You know something? We are gonna win Florida. Mark my words. You can write it down.
Michael Moore: Second, make sure the chairman of your campaign… is also the vote-count woman… and that her state has hired a company that’s gonna knock voters off the rolls who aren’t likely to vote for you. You can usually tell them by the color of their skin. Then make sure your side fights like it’s life or death.
James Baker: I think all this talk about legitimacy is way overblown.
Protesters: President Bush! President Bush!
Michael Moore: And hope that the other side will just sit by and wait for the phone to ring. And even if numerous independent investigations prove that Gore got the most votes…
Jeffrey Toobin on CNN: If there was a statewide recount under every scenario, Gore won the election.
Michael Moore: It won’t matter, just as long as all your daddy’s friends on the Soo-preme Court vote the right way.
Al Gore: While I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it.
Senator Tom Daschle: What we need now is acceptance. We have a new president-elect.
Michael Moore: Heh. It turns out none of this was a dream. It’s what really happened.
The film shows CBS and CNN calling Florida for Al Gore. According to the narrator, “Then something called the Fox News Channel called the election in favor of the other guy….All of a sudden the other networks said, ‘Hey, if Fox said it, it must be true.'”
We then see NBC anchor Tom Brokaw stating, “All of us networks made a mistake and projected Florida in the Al Gore column. It was our mistake.”
Moore thus creates the false impression that the networks withdrew their claim about Gore winning Florida when they heard that Fox said that Bush won Florida.
In fact, the networks which called Florida for Gore did so early in the evening—before polls had even closed in the Florida panhandle, which is part of the Central Time Zone. NBC called Florida for Gore at 7:49:40 p.m., Eastern Time. This was 10 minutes before polls closed in the Florida panhandle. Thirty seconds later, CBS called Florida for Gore. And at 7:52 p.m., Fox called Florida for Gore. Moore never lets the audience know that Fox was among the networks which made the error of calling Florida for Gore prematurely. Then at 8:02 p.m., ABC called Florida for Gore. Only ABC had waited until the Florida polls were closed.
About an hour before the polls closed in panhandle Florida, the networks called the U.S. Senate race in favor of the Democratic candidate. The networks seriously compounded the problem because from 6-7 Central Time, they repeatedly announced that polls had closed in Florida–even though polls were open in the panhandle. (See also Joan Konner, James Risser & Ben Wattenberg, Television’s Performance on Election Night 2000: A Report for CNN, Jan. 29, 2001.)
The false announcements that the polls were closed, as well as the premature calls (the Presidential race ten minutes early; the Senate race an hour early), may have cost Bush thousands of votes from the conservative panhandle, as discouraged last-minute voters heard that their state had already been decided; some last-minute voters on their way to the polling place turned around and went home. Other voters who were waiting in line left the polling place. In Florida, as elsewhere, voters who have arrived at the polling place before closing time often end up voting after closing time, because of long lines. The conventional wisdom of politics is that supporters of the losing candidate are most likely to give up on voting when they hear that their side has already lost. Thus, on election night 1980, when incumbent President Jimmy Carter gave a concession speech while polls were still open on the west coast, the early concession was blamed for costing the Democrats several Congressional seats in the West, such as that of 20-year incumbent James Corman. The fact that all the networks had declared Reagan a landslide winner while west coast voting was still in progress was also blamed for Democratic losses in the West; Congress even held hearings about prohibiting the disclosure of exit polls before voting had ended in the any of the 48 contiguous states.
Even if the premature television calls affected all potential voters equally, the effect was to reduce Republican votes significantly, because the Florida panhandle is a Republican stronghold. Most of Central Time Zone Florida is in the 1st Congressional District, which is known as the “Redneck Riviera.” In that district, Bob Dole beat Bill Clinton by 69,000 votes in 1996, even though Clinton won the state by 300,000 votes. So depress overall turnout in the panhandle, and you will necessarily depress more Republican than Democratic votes. A 2001 study by John Lott suggested that the early calls cost Bush at least 7,500 votes, and perhaps many more. Another study reported that the networks reduced panhandle turn-out by about 19,000 votes, costing Bush about 12,000 votes and Gore about 7,000 votes.
At 10:00 p.m., which networks took the lead in retracting the premature Florida win for Gore? They were CNN and CBS, not Fox. (The two networks were using a shared Decision Team.) See Linda Mason, Kathleen Francovic & Kathleen Hall Jamieson, “CBS News Coverage of Election Night 2000: Investigation, Analysis, Recommendations” (CBS News, Jan. 2001), pp. 12-25.)
In fact, Fox did not retract its claim that Gore had won Florida until 2 a.m.–four hours after other networks had withdrawn the call.
Over four hours later, at 2:16 a.m., Fox projected Bush as the Florida winner, as did all the other networks by 2:20 a.m.
At 3:59 a.m., CBS took the lead in retracting the Florida call for Bush. All the other networks, including Fox, followed the CBS lead within eight minutes. That the networks arrived at similar conclusions within a short period of time is not surprising, since they were all using the same data from the Voter News Service. (Mason, et al. “CBS News Coverage.”) As the CBS timeline details, throughout the evening all networks used VNS data to call states, even though VNS had not called the state; sometimes the network calls were made hours ahead of the VNS call.
Moore’s editing technique of the election night segment is typical of his style: all the video clips are real clips, and nothing he says is, narrowly speaking, false. But notice how he says, “Then something called the Fox News Channel called the election in favor of the other guy…” The impression created is that the Fox call of Florida for Bush came soon after the CBS/CNN calls of Florida for Gore, and that Fox caused the other networks to change (“All of a sudden the other networks said, ‘Hey, if Fox said it, it must be true.'”)
This is the essence of the Moore technique: cleverly blending half-truths to deceive the viewer.
[Moore response: On the Florida victory celebration, none. On the networks calls: provides citations for the early and incorrect Florida calls for Gore, around 8 p.m. Eastern Time, and for the late-evening network calls of Florida for Bush around 2:20 a.m. Doesn’t mention the retraction of the Florida calls at 10 p.m., or that CBS led the retraction.]
2000 Election Recount
How did Bush win Florida? “Second, make sure the chairman of your campaign is also the vote count woman.” Actually Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris (who was Bush’s Florida co-chair, not “the chairman”) was not the “vote count woman.” Vote counting in Florida is performed by the election commissioners in each of Florida’s counties. The Florida Secretary of State merely certifies the reported vote. The office does not count votes.
A little while later, Fahrenheit shows Jeffrey Toobin (a sometime talking head lawyer for CNN) claiming that if the Supreme Court had allowed a third recount to proceed past the legal deadline, “under every scenario Gore won the election.”
Fahrenheit shows only a snippet of Toobin’s remarks on CNN. What Fahrenheit does not show is that Toobin admitted on CNN that the only scenarios for a Gore victory involved a type of recount which Gore had never requested in his lawsuits, and which would have been in violation of Florida law. Toobin’s theory likewise depends on re-assigning votes which are plainly marked for one candidate (Pat Buchanan) to Gore, although there are no provisions in Florida law to guess at who a voter “really” meant to vote for and to re-assign the vote.
A study by a newspaper consortium including the Miami Herald and USA Today disproves Fahrenheit’s claim that Gore won under any scenario. As USA Today summarized, on May 11, 2001:
“Who would have won if Al Gore had gotten manual counts he requested in four counties? Answer: George W. Bush.”
“Who would have won if the U.S. Supreme Court had not stopped the hand recount of undervotes, which are ballots that registered no machine-readable vote for president? Answer: Bush, under three of four standards.”
“Who would have won if all disputed ballots — including those rejected by machines because they had more than one vote for president — had been recounted by hand? Answer: Bush, under the two most widely used standards; Gore, under the two least used.”
Throughout the Florida election controversy, the focus was on “undervotes”–ballots which were disqualified because the voter had not properly indicated a candidate, such as by punching out a small piece of paper on the paper ballot. The recounts attempted to discern voter intentions from improperly-marked ballots. Thus, if a ballot had a “hanging chad,” a recount official might decide that the voter intended to vote for the candidate, but failed to properly punch out the chad; so the recounter would award the candidate a vote from the “spoiled” ballot. Gore was seeking additional recounts only of undervotes. The only scenario by which Gore would have won Florida would have involved recounts of “overvotes”–ballots which were spoiled because the voter voted for more than one candidate (such as by marking two names, or by punching out two chads). Most of the overvotes which were recoverable were those on which the voter had punched out a chad (or made a check mark) and had also written the candidate’s name on the write-in line. Gore’s lawsuits never sought a recount of overvotes, so even if the Supreme Court had allowed a Florida recount to continue past the legal deadline, Bush still would have won the additional recount which Gore sought.
A separate study conducted by a newspaper consortium including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal found that if there had been a statewide recount of all undervotes and overvotes, Gore would have won under seven different standards. However, if there had been partial recounts under any of the various recounts sought by Gore or ordered by the Florida Supreme Court, Bush would have won under every scenario.
A very interesting web widget published by the New York Times allows readers to crunch the data any way they want: what standards for counting ballots, whose counting system to apply, and how to treat overvotes. It’s certainly possible under some of the variable scenarios to produce a Gore victory. But it’s undeniably dishonest for Fahrenheit to assert that Gore would win under any scenario.
Moore amplifies the deceit with a montage of newspaper headlines, purporting to show that Gore really won. One article shows a date of December 19, 2001, with a large headline reading, “Latest Florida recount shows Gore won Election.” The article supposedly comes from The Pantagraph, a daily newspaper in Bloomington, Illinois. But actually, the headline is merely for a letter to the editor–not a news article. The letter to the editor headline is significantly enlarged to make it look like an article headline. The actual printed letter looked nothing like the “article” Moore fabricated for the film. The letter ran on December 5, not December 19. The Pantagraph contacted Moore’s office to ask for an explanation, but the office refused to comment.
The Pantagraph’s attorney sent Fahrenheit’s distributor a letter stating that Moore’s use of the faked headline and story was “unauthorized” and “misleading” and a” misrepresentation of facts.” The letter states that Moore infringed the copyright of The Pantagraph, and asks for an apology, a correction, and an explanation. The letters asks Moore to “correct the inaccurate information which has been depicted in your film.” Moore’s law firm wrote back and claimed that there was nothing “misleading” about the fabricated headline.
Richard Soderlund, an Illinois State University history professor, who wrote the letter to the editor that The Pantagraph published, told the Chicago Tribune, “It’s misrepresenting a document. It’s at odds with history.”
Florida Purge of Convicted Felons from Voter Rolls
According to Fahrenheit, Bush cronies hired Data Base Technologies to purge Florida voters who might vote for Gore, and these potential voters were purged from the voting rolls on the basis of race. (“Second, make sure the chairman of your campaign is also the vote count woman. And that her state has hired a company that’s gonna knock voters off the rolls who aren’t likely to vote for you. You can usually tell ’em by the color of their skin.”) As explained by the Palm Beach Post, Moore’s suggestion is extremely incomplete, and on at least one fact, plainly false.
The 1998 mayoral election in Miami was a fiasco which was declared void by Florida courts, because–in violation of Florida law–convicted felons had been allowed to vote. The Florida legislature ordered the executive branch to purge felons from the voting rolls before the next election. Following instructions from Florida officials, Data Base Technologies (DBT) aggressively attempted to identify all convicted felons who were illegally registered to vote in Florida.
There were two major problems with the purge. First, several states allow felons to vote once they have completed their sentences. Some of these ex-felons moved to Florida and were, according to a court decision, eligible to vote. Florida improperly purged these immigrant felons.
Second, the comprehensive effort to identify all convicted felons led to a large number of false positives, in which persons with, for example, the same name as a convicted felon, were improperly purged. Purged voters were, in most cases, notified months before the election and given an opportunity to appeal, but the necessity to file an appeal was in itself a barrier which probably discouraged some legitimate, non-felon citizens from voting. According to the Palm Beach Post, at least 1,100 people were improperly purged.
The overbreadth of the purge was well-known in Florida before the election. As a result, election officials in 20 of Florida’s counties ignored the purge list entirely. In these counties, convicted felons were allowed to vote. Also according to the Post, thousands of felons were improperly allowed to vote in the 20 non-purging counties. Analysis by Abigail Thernstrom and Russell G. Redenbaugh, dissenting from a report by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, suggests that about 5,600 felons voted illegally in Florida. (The Thernstrom/Redenbaugh dissent explains why little credit should be given to the majority report, which was produced by flagrantly ignoring data.)
When allowed to vote, felons vote approximately 69 percent Democratic, according to a study in the American Sociological Review. Therefore, if the thousands of felons in the non-purging 20 counties had not been illegally allowed to vote, it is likely that Bush’s statewide margin would have been substantially larger.
Regardless, Moore’s suggestion that the purge was conducted on the basis of race was indisputably false. As the Palm Beach Post details, all the evidence shows that Data Base Technologies did not use race as a basis for the purge. Indeed, DBT’s refusal to take note of a registered voter’s race was one of the reasons for the many cases of mistaken identity.
DBT’s computers had matched these people with felons, though in dozens of cases they did not share the same name, birthdate, gender or race…[A] review of state records, internal e-mails of DBT employees and testimony before the civil rights commission and an elections task force showed no evidence that minorities were specifically targeted. Records show that DBT told the state it would not use race as a criterion to identify felons. The list itself bears that out: More than 1,000 voters were matched with felons though they were of different races.
The appeals record supports the Palm Beach Post’s findings. Based on the numbers of successful appeals, blacks were less likely to have been improperly placed on the purge list: of the blacks who were purged, 5.1 percent successfully appealed. Of Hispanics purged, 8.7 percent successfully appealed. Of whites purged, 9.9 percent successfully appealed. John R. Lott, Jr., “Nonvoted Ballots and Discrimination in Florida,” Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 32 (Jan. 2003), p. 209. Of course it is theoretically possible that the appeals officials discriminated against blacks, or that improperly purged blacks were not as likely to appeal as were people of other races. But no one has offered any evidence to support such possibilities.
The movie then shows selected scenes from television coverage on the night of the 2000 election, giving the impression that everything was heading in Gore’s direction, with state after state going for him until the end. But in fact, even leaving aside Florida, Bush won 29 states that night, and Gore won 20 states and the District of Columbia.
Moore then shows CBS calling Florida for Gore. He does not mention that this call was made by CBS and several other TV networks before polls had actually closed in the part of Florida that is in the Central time zone—the Western panhandle, which leans heavily Republican. Since 1980, the networks have all agreed not to call election results in any state before the polls close in that state, but in the case of Florida in 2000 they violated this agreement. The networks’ premature call—together with the fact that they repeatedly and wrongly announced during the final hour that the polls in Florida were closed—certainly cost Bush a good number of votes in that heavily Republican area. There is evidence from the 361 polling places in the Central time zone that voters didn’t show up as expected in the final hour, either because they were misled into believing the polls were already closed, or because they were convinced that their votes would not matter since Gore was already being reported as the winner in Florida. This depressed turnout very likely led to the close election result we’re all familiar with. One study (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=276278) suggests the networks’ error cost Bush about 1,500 Florida votes, and another (http://www.senate.gov/~gov_affairs/050301_Perrin.htm) suggests it cost him 5,000. In either case, or any similar case, the tight race fiasco would not have happened without the TV news mistake, and Bush would have won Florida without dispute. This point is not raised in the film.
Moore then shows several networks calling the state for Gore, but then says that “something called the Fox News Channel called the election in favor of the other guy.” What really happened, however, is that the TV networks soon realized that Florida was too close to call, and never should have been put in the Gore category. So beginning with CNN at 9:55 p.m. EST, and quickly followed by CBS and the others, the TV news networks retracted their mistaken call for Gore. (For the CNN retraction: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/aponline/20001108/aponline183922_000.htm. For a useful timeline of election-night “calls” by the networks: http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/c2k/pdf/REPFINAL.pdf.) Fox News, like the other networks, had wrongly called Florida for Gore even before the polls were closed. They did not call the state for Bush until after 2 a.m., four hours after CNN and CBS had led the way in retracting the call for Gore. Moore is correct to say that Fox was the first to actually announce a call for Bush at 2:16 a.m., but the other networks all followed within moments. Moore works hard to build the impression that everyone believed Gore had won until Fox said otherwise, which is blatantly false.
Moore then says that the man “in charge of the decision desk” at Fox News on election night was a cousin of Bush’s. Moore doesn’t actually follow this statement with any accusation of misconduct—but by putting things this way, he obviously wants us to assume that something wasn’t right. There has never been any suggestion of anything wrong with the qualifications or conduct of John Ellis, the Bush relative in question. He was, in any case, just following the data from the Voter News Service exit poll figures—information that all the networks used. Nothing Fox News did that night differed from what the other networks did (in fact, Fox originally made the same early and erroneous call for Gore that the other networks made) and nothing Ellis did has in any way been questioned—including by the two other Fox analysts, both Democrats, who manned the decision desk with him that night. Moore’s further preposterous suggestion, that “All of a sudden the other networks said ‘Hey, if Fox said it, it must be true,’” has no basis in fact whatsoever.
Having sought to convince us (without actually offering facts) that Florida was somehow taken from Gore, Moore says “How does someone like Bush get away with something like this?” and then suggests it is because his brother was Florida’s governor, and because Florida’s secretary of state (whom Moore calls “the vote counting woman”) was an elected Republican who was co-chair of Bush’s Florida campaign. He alleges no specific wrongdoing on either person’s part. The extent of his accusation against Bush’s brother is footage of Bush sitting with his brother before the election and saying he will win Florida (just as Al Gore said he would win Florida in the footage that opened the movie). In fact, Jeb Bush recused himself from everything having to do with the vote-count in Florida, to avoid any appearance of impropriety, so although he would normally have been the one in charge of the final post-election certification process, he remained completely out of it, and has never been accused by anyone of doing anything wrong (http://www.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/11/08/election.president/).
Katherine Harris, “the vote counting woman,” was the elected Secretary of State of Florida. She was not in charge of “vote counting,” which is overseen by county officials in each of Florida’s counties, and so was done by Democrats in each of the disputed counties in the 2000 election. Harris, as secretary of state and one of three members of the state’s Elections Canvassing Commission, was only in charge of certifying the vote-count after it was completed, which she did. In any case, she too is not accused in the movie or elsewhere of wrongdoing. The movie makes no charges, only insinuations, but suggests that Bush “got away” with something (it does not say what) because these people were in power. That certainly puts forward a grossly misleading impression at the very least.
Moore then says that a further element in “getting away” with “it” was to have the state of Florida “hire a company that’s gonna knock voters off the rolls who aren’t likely to vote for you. You can usually tell them by the color of their skin.” This is a reference to the fact that following the fiasco of the 1998 mayoral election in Miami—which had to be decided by state courts after it became clear that convicted felons had been allowed to vote, in violation of Florida law—the state of Florida had hired a firm called Data Base Technologies (whose office Moore shows on the screen) to systematically remove convicted felons from the voter rolls. This process met with difficulties from the start, including issues relating to the fact that in some other states some convicted felons are allowed to vote, and Florida was not allowed to remove those people from its own voter rolls if they had moved to Florida after being released in another state. Florida’s counties were aware of difficulties in this process, and so at least 20 of the counties simply ignored the Data Base Technologies lists of felons to purge from their lists, which meant that felons were removed in some counties but not others. It is true that when they vote, convicted felons vote for Democrats more often than for Republicans (http://www.scienceblog.com/community/article708.html) but it is also clear from an analysis by members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (http://www.manhattan-institute.org/final_dissent.pdf) that too many, not too few, convicted felons voted in the 2000 elections in Florida—that is, about 6,500 felons who were not legally allowed to vote did so anyway. So the result was likely many more (not fewer) votes for Gore. Finally, there is no evidence that any of this at any point had anything to do with race, despite Moore’s implication. An investigation by the Palm Beach Post (http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0527-03.htm) showed that the process used by Data Base Technologies at no point brought the race of individual convicted felons into the picture. Moore’s charge is baseless and false.
Moore then suggests the Bush team fought unethically in the post-election process in Florida, though he offers no specific charges, and only shows a snippet of a television interview with James Baker, Bush’s representative in the process, in which Baker says, “I think all this talk about ‘legitimacy’ is way overblown.” This implies that Baker was saying that the legitimacy of the election itself doesn’t matter. But that’s not what he was saying. The sound bite came from an interview with Baker on ABC’s This Week program on December 10, 2000. Baker was asked by Sam Donaldson whether he thought that having the Supreme Court decide the Florida recount question would take away from the legitimacy of whoever would be the winner. Baker answered:
Well, Sam, I think all this talk about legitimacy is way overblown. Whoever wins this election, and particularly if they should win it as a consequence of a decision of the highest court in the land, which everybody has said that they—that they intend to respect, I think that the country will come together behind that leader. Yes, we’ve lost 50 percent of the time normally reserved for transition. Yes, it’ll be harder than it normally is, but I don’t think that we will have questions of legitimacy about the president. Yes, there—there will be hard feelings regardless of which side wins and which side loses. But I think the country’s strong enough and our democracy’s strong enough we’ll over come that.
These are hardly the words of a heartless fiend, and Baker is not suggesting that the legitimacy of the election is irrelevant. He is, instead, arguing that the post-election process will produce a president that the American people will consider legitimate, no matter who wins. Moore’s careful cutting of this statement presents a totally misleading impression.
Moore then suggests that “numerous independent investigations prove that Gore got the most votes” in Florida. He puts what looks to be a newspaper article on the screen with the headline “Latest Florida Recount Shows Gore Won Election.” You can see on the screen that the headline is from a newspaper called The Pantagraph and the date is December 19, 2001. The Pantagraph is a local paper in Bloomington, Illinois. More importantly, the item Moore is showing was not a newspaper article, but a letter to the editor which had that title headline. It was just a reader claiming Gore had won, but not referring to any latest recount or new information. What’s more, the letter did not run on December 19, 2001, but on December 5, 2001. Here is what The Pantagraph had to say about it, following Moore’s use of their letter in the movie: “If [Moore] wants to edit the Pantagraph,” the paper told the Associated Press, “he should apply for a copy-editing job” (http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2004-08-02-moore-apology_x.htm).
Why did Moore have to resort to a misdated and re-titled letter to the editor from a local paper in Illinois to back up his claim that independent recounts showed Gore had won? Because the claim is false. In fact, the independent recounts, conducted by several universities and media organizations, showed that in every recount scenario that had been requested by the Gore campaign, Bush actually won more votes than Gore did in Florida, and therefore won the election, regardless of any court intervention. There were two major media investigations of the Florida post-election process. The first, conducted by USA Today, The Miami Herald and Knight Ridder, showed that “George W. Bush would have won a hand count of Florida’s disputed ballots if the standard advocated by Al Gore had been used” (http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2001-04-03-floridamain.htm). The second, conducted by the Associated Press, CNN, The New York Times, The Palm Beach Post, The St. Petersburg Times, Tribune Publishing, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, likewise showed that by all the scenarios requested by the Gore campaign or suggested by the Florida Supreme Court, Bush would have won (http://www.nytimes.com/pages/politics/recount/). The only ways Gore might have squeezed out a win would have involved extremely contrived and unusual methods of counting ballots, which no one had suggested (http://www.nytimes.com/images/2001/11/12/politics/recount/) Moore’s claim is misleading and his use of newspaper clippings is dishonest.
Moore then shows a quick clip from CNN in which legal pundit Jeffrey Toobin says, “If there was a statewide recount under every scenario, Gore won the election.” This is again a profoundly dishonest use of a video snippet. The clip is from a CNN program on November 12, 2001 in which Jeffrey Toobin was interviewed by Paula Zahn about election reform and a book he had written on the 2000 election. They had the following exchange:
ZAHN: But Jeffrey, if Al Gore had gotten what he wanted, which was a statewide manual recount or a recount of those four specific counties, George Bush still would have won. So I wonder and I’m going to put up on the screen now a paragraph from your book where you once said the wrong man was inaugurated on January 20th, 2001 and this is no small thing in our nation’s history. Do you still agree with what you wrote?
TOOBIN: Oh absolutely. I mean remember this is just about the under votes and over votes. There were thousands of votes that were clearly mistakenly passed. Democracy is about the intent of the voters. There are 3,400 votes in Palm Beach for Pat Buchanan. Obviously those people did not intend to vote for—did not intend to vote for Pat Buchanan. There were thousands of military absentee ballots that were not accurately counted or cast appropriately. There were 7,000 votes in Duval County in Jacksonville that were clearly intended for Al Gore. I mean you know the irony here is that the exit polls, the much-maligned exit polls, but—which really do manifest the intent of the voters—they were clearly correct that Al Gore won a very narrow vote.
ZAHN: Jeffrey, how can you say that? How can you say that given the conclusion of this analysis that Candy has set out in great detail that if Al Gore [had] gotten the manual recount with the standards that everybody seemed to agree to in this analysis, that George Bush would have won and he would have won if he had done the manual recount of the four specific counties.
TOOBIN: That’s not …
TOOBIN: All right let’s concentrate …
TOOBIN: Let’s concentrate on why we have elections, which is …
ZAHN: No. No. No. You’ve got to answer my question Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: No, I’m answering your question. I mean the poll said if there was a statewide recount—if there was a statewide recount under every scenario Gore won the election.
In other words, Toobin is talking about the results of exit polls, not the result of an actual recount. He’s trying to say he knows what people intended to do based on a poll, rather than what a recount of the real ballots would have shown. This is made clear in the same CNN program, when Candy Crowley, the CNN reporter referred to above, says:
If Al Gore had gotten what he asked for, the election would have been settled a lot quicker and Al Gore, our study suggests, still would have lost. The study, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, was commissioned by CNN and seven other news organizations. Trained coders often operating in teams viewed, but did not touch disputed ballots and wrote down what they saw. While their findings point to a Bush victory under all options in play at the time, there are theoretical scenarios in which Gore might have won.
Moore’s claim that Gore would have won by any recount scenario is flatly false, and his use of the CNN video is totally and abjectly dishonest. The facts are plain: Bush truly did win the 2000 election.
Moore then mocks the Supreme Court as mere friends of Bush’s “daddy” and mocks the Democratic leaders who accepted the outcome and called on the country to accept the new president. Moore offers no facts or specific allegations to support his mockery of either group, and does not take up the actual reasoning of the Supreme Court decision (http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/supremecourt/00-949_dec12.fdf) or the question of why the Democratic leaders accepted the legitimacy of the decision.
Please go to the following link to see screen shots from The Pantagraph:
For the past week or so we here at MOOREWATCH have been on top of a story on how Michael Moore completely faked a newspaper headline declaring that Al Gore won the 2000 election. (See here, here, and here for the whole story.) Well, an interpid reader named Stuart Hayashi, who first brought the story to our attention, managed to get ahold of a librarian who had access to the microfiche archives of the Bloomington Pantagraph. Despite being a self-professed Moore fan, she agreed to fax me a copy of the disputed page.
Now, just so we’re all clear about what we’re dealing with, here we see a screen capture of the alleged Pantagraph “headline” as shown by Moore in F9/11.
Well, my friends, as you will see the actual page looks absolutely nothing like what Moore presented onscreen.
The letter to the editor is highlighted above in yellow. (Click on the image for a larger version.) Now, in the interests of full disclosure, the image above was faxed to me on three pages. I took the three pages and assembled them in Photoshop. Apart from this assembly, and the color-correction of the text, I have not altered or changed the image in any way.
Let’s recap. On December 5, 2001, a letter to the editor entitled “Latest Florida recount shows Gore won election” was published in the Bloomington, IL Pantagraph. Then, almost three years later, Michael Moore, in his attempt to show that Bush “stole” the election, takes this letter to the editor and digitally manipulates it to appear as if it was a Pantagraph headline written on December 10, 2001.
Look at the images, folks. There is absolutely no way this could have been an accident, or an editing glitch, or a typographical error. This is a flat-out lie. So, this truly begs the question, what was Moore’s motivation here? Why the need to lie? Did he think that nobody would catch on? Or was he so desperate to “prove” that Bush “stole” the election that he was willing to fabricate evidence to prove it? And if Moore is willing to fabricate evidence in this instance, how can you trust anything else he says?
Get the facts. If you’re a Michael Moore fan reading this, how much longer are you going to believe his lies?
Update: Just to head off the Moore-ons at the pass, there was only one edition of the newspaper that day. What you see here is what was printed. Besides, even if there was more than one edition, do you think that before the second printing the editors of the Pantagraph decided to take a letter to the editor and turn it into a headline for a paper that wasn’t going to be printed for five more days?
From the website Bowling For Truth:
First, and most painfully obvious, network decision teams don’t sit around drinking piña coladas all day and shout out winners when the mood strikes them. Calling elections is a number-crunching process involving scores of analysts both inside and outside the network. One lone analyst could not single-handedly decide any election-night projections. There are literally hundreds, maybe thousands of people involved in the process of gathering and analyzing election-night data.
The now-notorious Voter News Service, used by all the networks, assembles sample precinct data and raw vote totals from every state and county in America. That data gets plugged into computer analyses continuously throughout election day to produce statistical estimates of probable outcomes all over the country. Four people on the Fox News decision team were methodically analyzing the VNS data and—this being the media—the other three were Democrats.
Fox News had been the third network to project a Gore win in Florida earlier in the evening. Was that erroneous call a clever ruse to throw everyone off the scent before Ellis sneakily threw the election for Bush at 2:16 A.M.?
In a major report on how the networks had blundered into making a correct call for Bush at two in the morning, the Los Angeles Times suggestively reported that the networks were “following the lead of Fox News—where Bush’s first cousin John Ellis worked as an analyst.” The theory that John Ellis was single-handedly responsible for Fox New’s projection is fatuous enough. The idea that he was responsible for the projections of all the other networks requires something of a conspiratorial mind-set. But as explained by Concerned Propagandist Rosenstiel, after Fox called the election for Bush, the other networks were “pressured by Fox’s decision” to call the state for Bush, too. That “collective error helped create the suggestion of a race won by Bush.”
It was a “suggestion” made all the more insidious by virtue of being true. It is, after all, an incontrovertible fact that Fox News was right: Bush won. At no point from the moment Fox News called Florida for Bush—even after endless media-sponsored recounts continuing one year into the Bush administration—did Gore ever surpass Bush’s lead.
But moreover, not only would all the other “decision desk” analysts at Fox have had to be part of the malevolent Ellis conspiracy, but VNS would have had to be in on it, too. When Fox News called Florida for Bush, the VNS numbers indicated—accurately, as it turns out—that it would be impossible for Gore to overcome Bush’s lead. By 1:30 A.M., with 95 percent of Florida’s precincts counted, VNS had Bush winning with about a sixty thousand-vote lead. At 2:00 A.M. Gore would have needed to win 64 percent of the remaining 5 percent of votes to surpass Bush’s lead.
Under normal circumstances, the decision desks at every network would have called Florida for Bush as soon as Gore’s incoming votes began to fall below 64 percent. As the few remaining precincts were reported, Gore was only getting 60 percent and his numbers continued to shrink. Florida should have been called for Bush. But, oddly enough, though all the networks were looking at the same VNS data, something was preventing them from calling the state for Bush. It was not until Fox News broke the logjam and projected Florida for Bush that the other networks followed—and with some alacrity.
If Gore had been the one in the lead with the same numbers, Fox News would not have had to be the first to give Florida to Bush. We know that because when Gore had a less impressive lead earlier in the evening, all the networks did give Florida to Gore.
The left’s conspiracy theory holds that the rapid calls for Bush by the other networks were all part of John Ellis’s devilish plan. Somehow Fox’s projection forced—forced—the other networks to call Florida for Bush. ABC, NBC, and CBS announced that Bush had won only because Fox had, and pay no attention to the VNS numbers showing Bush had won. But the fly in the Xanax is, there was evidently no such competitive pressure earlier in the evening with the (incorrect) projection for Gore. Florida was a do-or-die state. If Bush lost in Florida, short of divine intervention, he would have lost the election. NBC was the first to incorrectly project a Gore win in Florida at 7:49. CNN waited six minutes to incorrectly project Gore—an eternity in election projections. ABC waited an interminable thirteen minutes to make the incorrect call.
So it is telling that—unlike the early evening projection for Gore—when Fox called Florida for Bush at 2:16:46 A.M., it opened the floodgates. Within three minutes and forty-one seconds, every other network had made the same call. NBC and CBS had the Bush victory up within sixty seconds of Fox News. Executives from the other networks uniformly denied being influenced by Fox’s projection. They may have other reasons for saying so, but it has to be admitted, a case can be made that it was not Fox, but the fact that Bush had won Florida, that persuaded the networks to project that Bush had won Florida. The networks had ponied up millions of dollars for the VNS service. It’s not insane to think they were using it.
The only serious question is how all the networks had managed to project Gore the winner of Florida earlier in the evening, incorrectly, leading directly to a national crises that nearly upset a two-centuries-old orderly transfer of power.
Naturally, therefore, the watchdog media concentrated like a laser beam on . . . John Ellis, for his sinister role in helping Fox News accurately project Bush the winner in Florida.
Reviewers Who Fell for the Deceptions:
The Bush camp, with a little help from the ”Soo-preme” Court, stole the 2000 presidential elections, at least according to Moore. The documentarian backs up this accusation with some pretty persuasive data in a bizarre game of connect-the-dots meets six degrees of separation, starting at the political desk of the Fox News Channel, run by Bush’s first cousin, John Ellis, who made the decision to report Bush had won Florida–a call that did not come from the news media polling group Voter News Service.
Let me give you an example. Moore reminds the viewers that the state which ultimately determined the 2000 election, Florida, is governed by GW’s brother, Jeb Bush. As the 2000 election drew to a close, the political desk of Fox News Channel was the first to report that Bush had won the state of Florida. They reported this although every other network in the nation had projected Al Gore as the winner. The Fox News Channel is run by Bush’s first cousin, John Ellis.
The first conspiratorial link comes when he identifies the Fox News Channel employee who took the decision to report that Bush had won Florida on election night – when all other channels were reporting an Al Gore win – as Bush’s first cousin.
If true, it is an interesting piece of trivia – but hardly proof of a family plot to steal the presidency.
It begins with George W. Bush reading to a group of school children, despite having been told the country is under attack. It then backs up to scenes of a questionable election, of people holding signs reading “Hail to the Thief” and Bush’s limousine being pelted with eggs during his inauguration. The fact that Jeb Bush, the presidential candidates’ brother, was governor of Florida during the election, that George W. had ties to the people in charge of the election, and that Fox News called the election for Bush prior to any acknowledged clarity of the election results, all makes for a suspect election. Meanwhile, statistics reveal Bush went on vacation 42% of the time prior to 9/11, an historical record.
Fahrenheit 9/11 begins with a dissection of the 2000 U.S. presidential election, in which Al Gore won the popular vote via the ballot box but George W. Bush won the White House via his brother’s Florida and his father’s Supreme Court pals.
Some of “Fahrenheit 9/11” concerns issues that are common knowledge to the American public, such as the fishy 2000 presidential election that originally stated Al Gore led the electoral votes in Florida until the Fox News (run by Bush’s first cousin) stated that George W. Bush had narrowly come out on top. While a recount might have, indeed, proved Gore was the winner, none was ever ordered and Bush controversially became the next President of the United States.
George W. Bush’s brother and Governor of Florida – Jeb Bush – essentially helped Bush win the Presidency by rigging the voting in the state of Florida by purging thousands of African American voters from the polls.
And then, Moore intones, “Something called the Fox News Channel” bucks the tide and calls Bush victorious in Florida, and so, winner of the whole shebang.
Dan Rather and Peter Jennings recant their predictions, and Fahrenheit 9/11 zips through the recount, remaking the case Spike Lee made in his segment of Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet, “We Wuz Robbed,” namely, black voters were disenfranchised, House Representatives of color protested, the Senate went “missing,” and the Supreme Court voted Bush in. (See also, Jadakiss’ new video, for “Why,” which takes another run at the same problems.) But if the point isn’t precisely new, it has newly alarming resonance after 9/11 and during the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
After a prologue chronicling the fallout of the 2000 election, where the presidency was essentially taken from the hands of Al Gore because of an announcement from a first cousin of George W. Bush
We kick off with the election which saw Bush claim power despite gaining fewer votes than his opponent. A network of family connections including his cousin at the FOX TV network and his brother as Governor of Florida ensured that George was Whitehouse bound with or without a majority. So much for democracy.
The theater curtain has barely opened before he’s on a tear about the 2000 election being stolen — a charge well documented elsewhere, but Moore offers only implication (Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, in charge of vote counting, was also Bush’s campaign manager in the state) without substantiation. Where are the easily available numbers that so clearly support his claim? If he can’t back up the first thing he says in the movie, many skeptics will wonder, why should we believe him about anything else?
The film opens with the Gore-Lieberman victory celebration on election night, 2000, and poignantly asks if the last four years has been a just a bad dream. It explains what we now know is a fact, Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris knowingly disenfranchised many minority Florida voters to help George W. Bush steal the election.
For example, even before the opening credits, Moore recaps the 2000 presidential election with CBS and CNN calling Florida for Al Gore. Then John Ellis, George W. Bush’s cousin who happened to be running Fox News’ election coverage, announced a Florida victory for his kin.
Mr. Kopel, was Katherine Harris in charge of the vote count AND Bush’s Florida campaign co-chair AND did she eventually certify an incomplete vote count? Those are the salient points.
Articles Related to the Deceptions:
By Bill Flick
BLOOMINGTON — The Pantagraph has received its first response from filmmaker Michael Moore about his “makeover” of a Pantagraph page in the hit movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
Moore apparently is not going to say he’s sorry or pay the newspaper’s light-hearted, if not symbolic, request for $1 in compensatory damages.
But his company’s lawyer was willing to spend 37 cents — to send a letter suggesting Moore did little wrong.
New York-based lawyer Devereux Chatillon of the law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal sent the letter to J. Casey Costigan, the Bloomington attorney representing the newspaper.
Citing several precedents, Chatillon suggested Moore was within his legal right to use a Pantagraph headline in the movie and that no “copyright infringement” occurred.
Further, the letter claims Moore did nothing “misleading” when the headline (“Latest Florida recount shows Gore won election”) that originally appeared above a Dec. 5, 2001, letter to the editor was altered in both the font and size of the type for the movie and made to look like a news story from a Dec. 19, 2001, edition of The Pantagraph.
“Baloney,” said Pantagraph President and Publisher Henry Bird, in response to the letter.
Said Costigan, “I disagree that Michael Moore’s use of the headline falls under ‘fair use,’ and I think the letter also takes what Mr. Moore did out of context.”
Bird said the newspaper would consider pursuing the matter further and asked Costigan to send Moore a follow-up letter, encouraging him to explain why a Pantagraph page was altered without permission.
Although offering no apology, the letter from Chatillon, who represents Westside Productions, which produced “Fahrenheit 9/11,” did admit the date of The Pantagraph page flashed in the movie “was unfortunately off by a couple weeks.” But the mistake “did not make a difference to the editorial point … and was in no way detrimental to (The Pantagraph.)”
In the film, Moore criticizes President Bush’s handling of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the president and his associates’ ties to Saudi Arabian oil interests.
Repeated attempts over the past three weeks to reach Moore by telephone and e-mail have been unsuccessful.
Here’s something to consider regarding the Pantagraph issue. Take a look at this quote from Michael Moore’s lawyers.
Although offering no apology, the letter from Chatillon, who represents Westside Productions, which produced “Fahrenheit 9/11,” did admit the date of The Pantagraph page flashed in the movie “was unfortunately off by a couple weeks.” But the mistake “did not make a difference to the editorial point … and was in no way detrimental to (The Pantagraph.)”
So, in other words, even though the date shown on the screen was a “mistake” it didn’t alter the overall meaning of the original article. (The fact that the original article was a letter to the editor and not a headline story seems to be immaterial.) Now, justapose that with Mikey’s own words when someone misquotes him.
TAPPER: You declare in the film that Hussein’s regime had never killed an American…
MOORE: That isn’t what I said. Quote the movie directly.
TAPPER: What is the quote exactly?
MOORE: “Murdered.” The government of Iraq did not commit a premeditated murder on an American citizen. I’d like you to point out one.
It’s amazing how much Mikey insists on accuracy when he is being quoted, but has no problem completely manufacturing news articles that didn’t exist when he needs “evidence” to “prove” his assertions.
Come on, Moore fans. Let’s hear your justification for this one.
:: E X I T L I N K S ::
My Full Collection of F9/11 Deceptions Will Be Stored Here
The Best F9/11 Debunkings can be found at:
An Old Moore-related Article That’s Worth Remembering:
Here’s an article about leftist Roger Friedman who used to write for FoxNews.com for some reason. He would gush over any left-wing movie and then the leftist websites would be able to say “Wow! Even Fox News liked the movie!”
Sorry that I can’t cry over Roger Friedman’s firing as a columnist from FOXNews.com.
It’s not just that he ignored the age-old advice–don’t blank where you live/eat/work. And it’s not just that as an entertainment industry writer, he was an uber-liberal who rarely wrote anything of interest and mostly gushed over the vapid celebs he covered.
It’s that left-wing politics dominated his absurd praise of left-wing propaganda on the silver screen and his apologism for extremist Muslims in showbiz.
It’s that he sometimes fancied himself a movie critic and lent the FOX News name to extreme fawning over movies like Michael Moore’s pro-socialized medicine flick, “Sicko,” and Angelina Jolie’s “A Mighty Heart,” which was “Mighty” only in its pandering to Islam and pretending some other force cut up Daniel Pearl like so many chicken parts at the market. Then, other liberal celebs and gals on “The View” would say, “Well, even FOX News like it.”
And it’s that Friedman took it upon himself to question the U.S. government’s decision to turn away Yusuf Islam a/k/a Cat Stevens because of his open hatred of Jews (including, presumably, Roger Friedman), support of HAMAS, his recent past as a HAMAS money-mule, and his defense of the Salman Rushdie death fatwah. Friedman cheered on the absurd reversal of that wise decision to deny Stevens entry into the U.S.
Does that sound like “Fair & Balanced” to you . . . or liberal and what you’d expect on ABC and MSNBC?
It was extremely stupid to brag on your own company’s website that you are stealing from your company and enjoying the crime. But Roger Friedman’s dismissal from FOXNEWS.com was loooooong overdue.
Here are just a few examples:
The thing about Moore is that he doesn’t hide his agenda like certain news organizations. You don’t have to like him, but it’s not fair to call him manipulative. Also, I was suprised that Fox News’ movie review guy gave such a fair and balanced review, no seriously, he actually did.
Can you actually tell us where Michael Moore lied? Even Fox News gave the movie amazing reviews and said it was right on the money with facts and evidence.. and they fully support George Bush and the republican party… and also HATED and gave horrible reviews to BfC.
even Fox news had a very positive review of Fahrenheit 9/11
calling it brilliant and something every patriotic American should see.
Everyone knows I’m not a fan of Michael Moore, but when even Fox News is giving Fahrenheit 9/11 a rave review (OK, the Fox News gossip columnist, but still), I’m prepared to go into the new film with an open mind…
Oh Conrad, don’t be silly. Many of the nation’s finest minds, from Eleanor Clift to Krugman to Yglesias to Brad DeLong to Frank Rich to Rex Reed to — well, the list goes on an on — they have all said this is a film well worth seeing. Even Fox News! It’s a revelation, and the comparison to Ann Coulter is frivolous and unworthy of you. She simply invents and lies. As I said in the post, see it for the clips of our leaders alone– those clips don’t lie, and they speak for themselves. Forget about Moore, if you must, and see it for the footage you’ve never seen before.