---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 09 Oct 2002 13:27:50 -0700
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Florida 2002 Election Fraud too Hot for Alterna-Media
October 9, 2002
Narco News '02
Salon, PBS, Run from the Big Story
Florida 2002 Election Fraud too Hot for "Alterna-Media"
By Danny Schechter
The News Dissector
Special to the Narco News Bulletin
Narco News Publisher's Commentary: Many sincere people who seek alternate
sources of news and information have given their good money to
"alternative" media outlets like the Public Broadcasting Corporation, its
affiliates, and through "premier" membership subscriptions to Salon.com
Those good people, who wanted more authentic news, have been cheated and
defrauded by those two news organizations.
At Narco News, in part because we don't charge our readers a cent or a peso
for any of the news we report, we are not in any financial competition with
those two organizations. So we're in a clean position to say, after reading
authentic journalist Danny Schechter's weblog report today, that two
"alternative" media organizations are behaving abhorrently regarding one of
the most important ongoing stories in the United States: The Stealing of
the Presidency in Florida, 2000.
There is a stark contrast between the news about authentic democracy and
elections this past week in Brazil - where 115 million voters went to the
polls on Sunday - and elections in the United States. Although Brazil's
population is smaller than that of the United States, the Brazilian
election system fosters more participation than that of the so-called
"democracy" to the North. In 2000, only 105 million U.S. citizens voted in
the presidential elections. In Brazil last Sunday, 115 million.
One of the reasons for that is the paucity of serious and authentic
political reporting in the United States, including from the
consumer-supported sources like Salon and PBS, where the public has a right
to expect more and better coverage.
The U.S. media often covers Latin America as a collection of "banana
republics," mocking the more authentic and participatory democracies in
countries like Brazil and Venezuela, as a kind of shield that keeps the
problems in their own houses hidden from public view.
In the current story, Schechter has also raised serious issues of
conflict-of-interest - at very least, the appearance of
conflict-of-interest - regarding Salon.com and PBS refusal to report an
Danny Schechter is an experienced authentic journalist with more depth and
breadth of experience and demonstrated success as a journalist than most of
the producers allowed airtime on PBS and most of the writers who are
allowed space in Salon.com - the high-budget, low-quality, effete snob's
corner of the Internet (I'm not dissing all Salon writers here, heavens,
there are some very good ones, but the general political zeitgeist of the
online magazine is quite intentionally milquetoast; a simulation of
boldness without assuming the risks of actually being bold, as occurred
last week when Salon censored its own story on the Enron scandals and
Schechter has been executive producer on major network news programs, a
beat reporter for decades, an experienced foreign policy reporter who filed
dispatches from Vietnam in the 1960s, perhaps the leading U.S. journalist
to uncover and report on the tragedy of South Africa during the apartheid
regime, and is the author of various books on the subject of the media.
Although Narco News ceased its affiliation with Schechter's The Media
Channel in April this year and adopted a policy of no permanent
affiliations with any other English-language news organization, we would
never deny that Schechter is an authoritative voice on the beats that he
writes frequently about.
If you, kind reader, already gave your good money to Salon.com and to PBS,
it doesn't seem to us like you've gotten your money's worth. But not to
worry. Today, Narco News gives you the story that Salon and PBS did not
want you to see, gratis, because a free press means you don't pay. It will
probably get more attention here anyway than it would have gotten if Salon
had cloaked it in its "paying customer's only" premier service, as it tends
to do with the works of writers of Schechter's caliber.
And if the Grand Pooh-bahs at Salon.com, PBS or that pathetic phony Mr.
David Horowitz wish to respond to anything I've said here, or that
Schechter has reported, we of course offer them every opportunity to
respond on our pages, by writing me at email@example.com. In the
meantime, I'm very happy that I never wasted a cent supporting either of
those two hapless and simulator media organizations. The "alternative
media" movement they claim to represent is dying anyway... just ask the
laid-off "alternative weekly" journos this week in Los Angeles and Cleveland.
The Authentic Journalism Renaissance is thriving, South of the Border,
precisely where Authentic Democracy is on the rebound while, in this same
era, democracy dies in the United States - in a large part because, up at
those heights, not even the "alternative" media dares to fully report the
whole truth about the electoral coup d'etat of 2000, and the illegitimacy
of the "government" and "free press" in a regime with house organs that
dishonestly propagate the myth of the world's leading democracy.
THE ARTICLE SALON WON'T RUN
ABOUT A FILM THAT PBS WON'T
DISTRIBUTE OR BROADCAST
By Danny Schechter
When I first wrote this article in late August, I submitted it to the
online mag SALON which expressed genuine interest, then forgot about the
piece, then found it, then was considering it, and then was not responding
to my various attempts to elicit a decision because of my feeling that it
should run before the election.
Their initial response involved concern about assuring that David Horowitz,
their commentator on the right, who is mentioned in the piece, had a chance
to respond. I agreed, but sought assurances that it would not be given to
him in advance of publication. They agreed. But then, as the weeks went
by, I began to suspect that it was going to be axed.
Finally, in early October I was told by a NY-based editor, first, that he
didn't have "time" to edit it, and then that Salon wanted to do "more
reporting," as if this piece was being offered as a tip for them to run
with, not a story based on my experience. I was asked again about
Horowitz's views as if the on-line mag afraid to stir the cannons of his
quick to ignite polemical broadsides. While he is part of the story, he is
only a tangential part.
But, again, I suspect, his presence in it led to them finally "passing" or
killing it after I called the editor from Singapore. Happily, I can publish
I am furious about PBS's decision to refuse to distribute this film on
bogus grounds, but hardly surprised. Fortunately, some Americans will get
to see it because ITVS, the independent television service that filmmakers
fought for, is distributing it to PBS stations and some are carrying it.
Find out if it will be on where you live. For more info, visit
http://www.itvs.org/countingondemocracy/ and www.globalvision.org to order
The Story Salon.com Refused to Tell...
An Old Story With a New Twist
THE FLORIDA FIASCO CHANGED THIS COUNTRY:
WHY WON'T PBS SHOW THE UNTOLD STORY?
By Danny Schechter
In a typical understatement, the New York Times called the 2000 vote in
Florida the most "flawed and fouled up election in American history."
Everyone knows who won, but few realize how many voters lost, or that a
whopping 175,000 ballots went uncounted in balloting which turned on 537
votes when the Supreme Court stepped in. Even fewer know about purges from
the voter rolls or how the recount in key counties was undermined, if not
deliberately delayed, and, in effect, sabotaged.
When it was over, the new Administration asked Americans to forget Florida,
to "move on" or "get over it." Much of the media did just that - never
fully investigating the charges of voting irregularities and claims of
disenfranchisement by minorities. (Even the Justice Department sued three
Florida counties on voting rights issues) But on September 11th, the
"newspaper of record" quipped that the Florida debate shifted from "who
won?" to "who cares?"
In truth, millions do care. Many were shocked when new ballot machines
misfired in Florida once again during the 2002 primary. Other commented
that voter turn out had fallen to 30% nationwide. One TV journalist
suggested that there might be a "voter boycott" underway. Many of these
problems surfaced for all to see during the 2000 election that was covered
and mis-covered only as a horse race as if only the main candidates had a
stake in its outcome. Later, the networks were forced to apologize to
Congress for their "serious mistakes" in their screwed up, deceptive and
inept election-eve forecasting. When it was over, they dropped the story
like a hot potato with no follow up. Their long delayed "media review" was
an incomprehensible mishmash that was interpreted in some, but not all,
newspapers as validating a Bush verdict. Many media analysts criticized the
big media consortium for misrepresenting their findings and "burying the
lead" which showed a narrow Gore victory.
Of course since then, over a year after the election, the federal
government sued three Florida counties for voting rights violations. Other
cases were heard in the Florida courts. At the end of August, a tiny item
moved on the Associated Press wire: "The NAACP's lawsuit over Florida's
disputed 2000 presidential election appears headed for a close as the state
and two counties the only remaining defendants have agreed to a settlement,
attorneys said Tuesday. Attorneys would not discuss terms of the
settlement. The class-action lawsuit filed by the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People and other civil rights groups argued
voters were disenfranchised during the on Nov. 7, 2000 election; it
included allegations that blacks were kept from voting in some counties."
Since then, the primary voting in several counties was fouled up when the
new machines intended to replace the old discredited system "mis-fired."
These developments were reported but not widely followed up on. They were
hardly bathed in national television attention. The media had moved on.
THE QUESTIONS THAT REMAINED
For some time, big questions nagged at the national conscience. Like the
ones my colleague Faye Anderson, a one time Republican and now an African
American political consultant and I investigated for a new film called
"Counting on Democracy" which takes a new look at the untold story in the
context of the fight for voting rights.
The film is narrated by the gutsy actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee who
worked on earlier films with Martin Luther King on the struggle of the
1960's civil rights movement for voting rights. Our film is not about Gore
or Bush but the still outraged voters of Florida and all Americans who
watched what happened there with disgust and embarrassment. In making the
film, we tried very hard to avoid strident voices and conspiracy theorists,
instead elaborating on the argument that a "tyranny of small decisions" was
responsible. We sought out credible figures including civil rights
leaders, and top journalists with Newsweek, and the New York Times. We even
feature the President of the Associated Press. We tried to interview
leading Florida Republicans too, but they all refused, perhaps believing
(correctly it may turn out) that the film would be perceived as "biased" if
they were not part of it. We told PBS before the decision that they refused
to respond. It didn't matter. Their absence just proved "bias" on our part.
REPRESENTING "ALL SIDES"
We did manage to get interviews with two top officials of the GOP including
the man who ran the Bush Campaign's recount-stopping strategy, and a GOP
former Governor. We also showed an interview with Florida Elections
Director Clayton Roberts and testimony by Jeb Bush and Secretary of State
Katherine Harris. On the Democratic side, we spoke with members of
Congress, the lawyer who argued in the Supreme Court and the head of the
Gore campaign, among others. She admitted that they had made big mistakes
that cost them the election. The main characters were voters, labor
organizers and civil liberties union monitors. The film indicts Bush and
Gore equally for compromising their commitment to small "d" democracy to
After a year-long battle of our own, we raised the money to make the film.
We did so in the spirit of a call by Alex Jones of Harvard University's
Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy who wrote in the New York
Times: "The answer is tough investigations of what happened in the voting
and the vote counting, uncompromised by the false notion that avoidance of
controversy will be healing. The answer is also tough reporting on what
happened in Florida that does not confuse fairness with the unsatisfactory
practice of quoting one strident and then its opposite in every story."
Counting on Democracy was hailed at a film festival. "This tale of race,
political payback, voter fraud and justice deferred could have come out of
a Hollywood thriller. But no-this is the story of the 2000 Presidential
election in Florida, " wrote the Taos Talking Picture festival that
screened it to an enthusiastic SRO crowd. It was praised in the Palm Beach
Post in Florida, a paper that knows the story well, and then licensed by
the Independent Television Service for airing on public television.
The ITVS, born out of the fight by US producers to get funding from the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting when PBS was spending a small fortune
overseas to buy shows from BBC enthusiastically embraced "Counting On
Democracy." They paid for its completion and offered it to PBS for airing.
Films with an ITVS imprimatur often have an inside track because they have
gone through a due diligence process by public television professionals. We
had rushed to get it done in time to be seen before this year's
election. The film is timely, with updated information about reform
efforts in Congress and Florida to fix our broken electoral system.
PBS SAYS: NO WAY
PBS has now spoken. In early August, they decided they will NOT screen
Counting on Democracy. They gave it a resounding "no:" no broadcast, and,
then, a second no to distribution by the PBS "Plus" feed that gives local
stations the option to air the show or not. Here's what ITVS told us they
"They felt strongly that the program was not journalistic in that it tried
to appear to be unbiased by including a Republican, but he was mocked and
made to look silly. They felt it was 'full of cheap shots' and the
narration was overly simplistic. They felt that 'due to the subject
matter, care needed to be taken to present a more balanced look at the
subject matter' even if the show ultimately had a point of view - and that
wasn't the case."
It is hard to respond to this type of a vague attack. As someone who has
made over 200 magazine shows that aired on PBS stations, produced 50
segments for ABC's prime time 20/20 newsmagazine and directed ten major
documentaries, I think I know something about journalistic standards, and
would beg to differ. Suffice, it to say, we have "creative differences." As
for only featuring three Republicans, we told PBS before they make their
decision that other Florida Republicans refused to be interviewed. It
didn't matter. To them, their absence just proved "bias" on our part.
I must admit that I was not surprised by their mechanistic thinking and
nit-picking which one political insider I know rightly labels an "alibi."
It felt like that scene from the Shawshank Redemption where inmates line up
for parole hearings to collect their annual rejection, knowing full well
that the decision to reject them has already been made. PBS is not known
for courage in broadcasting. Activists have fought for years against the
banning of many independent documentaries that take on controversial
issues. Rather than offer an outlet for hard hitting independent work, PBS
invariably features blander fare built around "story telling" or high
priced films about history rather than topical muckraking, save for Bill
Moyer's new fine NOW series that even many PBS stations will not carry.
Our company Globalvision has experienced PBS's rejection mania over the
years when our award winning human rights series Rights & Wrongs (that
aired on selected local PBS stations, not nationally) was rejected because,
get this, "human rights is an insufficient organizing principle for a TV
series" (unlike cooking!) Some stations considered our work "not corporate
friendly." Others branded us, falsely, as one-sided left-wingers while
continuing to broadcast right-wing fare with no such hesitations. Even
Bruce Springsteen was denounced by a PBS exec as a self-promoter when they
rejected a non-profit film I produced on the making of the anti-apartheid
song Sun City in l986. It later won the Independent Documentary Association
prize, the top in the industry. PBS later aired another "making of
documentary" on, but on a commercial project, Raiders of the Lost Ark: That
program was produced by the for-profit company that made the blockbuster movie.
IF NOT US, WHO?
It turns out PBS also has another idea for how to treat the Florida issue
too. No, not with a
competing investigation or an expose that shares our focus. Oh no! PBS has
opted instead, literally, to treat the issue as a joke, with a satirical
show about Florida. "Counting on Democracy" is out; counting on comedy is in.
Again, here is what ITVS told us: "CPB did commission a documentary on the
Florida recount. It is completed and will be on the PBS national schedule
in October. The title is WHO COUNTS? ELECTION REFORM IN AMERICA. The show
is very, very different from COUNTING ON DEMOCRACY. Here is a short
"Comedian and "Saturday Night Live" cast member Darrell Hammond and former
CNN Washington Bureau Chief Frank Sesno headline Who Counts? Election
Reform in America, to be broadcast on Thursday, October 17, 10 p.m. on
PBS. "Who Counts? will combine original comedy and reporting on the 2000
presidential election, with balloting issues in Florida as a key element,
in looking at election reform today. Darrell Hammond will portray Al Gore,
Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton and himself in all-new material written and
produced especially for the one-hour program. He will be interviewed in
character by Mr. Sesno, who will also narrate."
(A reporter for the Orlando Sentinel told me that fully one third of the
PBS stations in Florida will not even carry this (PBS approved) film. One
third will "bury it" in off times and one third will run it. ONLY ONE
STATION IN FLORIDA (Fort Myers) IS CARRYING "COUNTING ON DEMOCRACY." Only
one, and despite a powerful endorsement in the Palm Beach Post. Overall
only 17 of more than 300 PBS stations are presently committed to carry the
MAKING FUN OF FLORIDA
Behind their false characterization of our documentary as biased and the
surrealistic logic that prefers to make fun of Florida rather that explain
what happened there, is the possibility of a more insidious scandal like
the one that came to light in the very week that we learned that our film
was being censored. It is an episode, just coming to light, that shows how
PBS operates-in the shadows. It concerns an earlier PBS financial payoff to
an aggressive conservative zealot who a decade ago crusaded against our
South Africa Now TV 156 week series that critiqued apartheid every week.
According to the Los Angles Times he was successful in getting the PBS
affiliate in Los Angeles, KCET, to drop the show and, then, later claimed a
victory in his own publication for muzzling it. (Protests by the black
community there later forced it back on the air.) He had labeled Nelson
Mandela a "Marxist," and baited us with similar language for our tough
reporting on South Africa's fight for freedom.
His name is David Horowitz, a 1960's revolutionary leftist turned 1980's
revolutionary rightist. He surfaced up as an activist-advisor in the George
W Bush Campaign in 2000.Years earlier, he was well known for his
well-publicized attacks against progressive PBS programming and even the
middle of the road documentary series Frontline. For years, Horowitz
lobbied right wing congressman and Senators to pressure public television
stations. He orchestrated calls for de-funding PBS, as well, which he
denounced as part of the irresponsible "liberal media." He savagely
attacked Bill Moyers for profiting off of public television.
It now turns out, that while he was mouthing off publicly against PBS, he
was privately meeting with former PBS President Ervin Duggan demanding
money to produce a right-wing version of Frontline. Current, the public
broadcasting trade publication reports this week on "how Horowitz's
campaign against liberal bias on public broadcasting opened the door to
talks with CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) leaders about
corrective right leaning programs." Duggan was posturing as a man of the
middle, writing "Counterpunch" op-eds for the LA Times denouncing the
denunciations of the right and the militants of the left. At the time he
had been considered a "liberal" because he had worked in the Lyndon Johnson
Administration and was an FCC lawyer.)
Although he had no prior TV experience, Horowitz says he and his partner
received $250,000 for a "treatment" from CPB. According to his account, CPB
and PBS later committed $1.3 million to the project. Duggan later turned
against Horowitz as many who know him tend to do in the same way he turns
on almost every one he ever worked with. Horowitz still praises Duggan as
"fair minded" because "he brought us into the system."
Was this payment a pay-off to quiet the hornet's nest of rightist pressure
that he was stirring? He claims he drew up the project's proposals and was
poised to profit personally. How do we know? No media outlet has exposed
this political deal making and evident cave-in to pressure. PBS never told
us about it either. At the time, Duggan was giving speeches denouncing both
the right and the left to pretend at evenhandedness. He turned us down when
we asked him to support our human rights series.
We only know about wheeling and dealing now because David Horowitz himself
has gone public about it, and not simply for purposes of
self-aggrandizement. He is suing his former partner in the venture,
claiming that he "enriched himself at my expense." This story is page one
in Current, out in the very week that PBS kaboshed the broadcast of
Counting on Democracy, no doubt fearing it might rankle the White House,
"due to the subject matter," to quote PBS. Of course, their rejection was
couched in the language of journalistic standards and concerns about
"fairness" as it always is.
NEED FOR TRANSPARENCY
Maybe its time to call for an investigation of PBS, starting with the slimy
details of this Horowitz affair. At a time when Americans want transparency
and accountability in their institutions, why not ask how many other
right-wingers and Bush backers were offered similar deals. That probe might
start with queries about programs made by Fred Barnes of Rupert Murdoch's
Weekly Standard who also became an filmmaker overnight with PBS and CPB
largesse. There are many others.
RELATING THIS TO FLORIDA
How does what happened in Florida fit into all of this? It shows how
political PBS is, and how unwilling to carry programs that they thing go
too far. How many other important stories unwanted in the dumbed-down
commercial media are also being axed by PBS, the only TV programming
service with a mandate to serve the public interest? In their first year
anniversary coverage of the fiasco in Florida, the editors of the
Economist, the world's top magazine offered what they later called a
"joke." They apologized to readers for declaring President Bush the winner
in Florida because "the election is STILL too close to call." No one has
apologized to the voters of America for what happened in Florida, a story
that you still may not be able to find out about thanks to PBS's refusal to
That "joke" is not so funny. It is an insult.
And in fact, if you want to read something we used to call "funny business"
about this ongoing story, here's a murky tale just posted on a website in
"A car was being dredged up after sinking in a canal in Miami Dade County
on August 9th, 2002. Divers who found the car also found a locked metal box
that when opened contained uncounted ballots from the November 2000
election. The large majority of the presidential votes in the lost
container were for Al Gore. Of the approximate 2500 soaked ballots over
1600 were for Al Gore. The election of 2000 just won't go away^Å. Local
police spokesperson Jeanne Pierre Dorvil stated that the matter would be
You bet that that "investigation," if it ever occurs, won't be seen on PBS.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Please help us get the word out on Counting on Democracy. Pass this story
along. Find out if the program is being aired in your community, and if
not, why not. Please be polite when calling PBS stations because often the
last thing people in public television want is to heat from the public. .
Counting on Democracy will be screened at the Hamptons Film festival In
East Hampton at 2PM on Sunday, Oct 20th. Tapes are available for screening
in schools and communities as well. Screenings in Philadelphia, New York,
and News Jersey have been arranged. Write firstname.lastname@example.org with
suggestions and comments.
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