in part from Pelast's book by workingforchange.com.
series is part of the WorkingForChange campaign,
in cooperation with Martin Luther King III of
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,
to prevent the theft of the presidential election
of 2004. There is a link included to sign onto
the WorkingForChange/King petition.
Election Fix Story Steals Into the States
In London the Guardian and Observer received about
two thousand bless-you-Britain-for-telling-us-the-truth-about-our-elections
letters from U.S. Internet readers circulating
the samizdat presidential elections coverage.
I also received a few like this:
You pansey brits seem to think that the average
American is as undereducated and stupid as the
average british subject..Well comrad [sic], I'm
here to tell you . . . . . .which ended with some
physically unfeasible suggestions of what to do
with the Queen (figure 1.1).
My Observer report went to print within three
weeks of the election. The vote count in Florida
was still on. Watching the vote-count clock ticking,
Joe Conason, the most determined of American investigative
reporters, insisted to his editors at Salon.com,
the Internet magazine, that they bring my story
back to America. Salon posted "Florida's Ethnic
Cleansing of the Voter Rolls" to the Net on December
4, 2000. It wasn't exactly "print," but at least
it was American. Still, not one U.S. news editor
called, not even from my "sister" paper, the Washington
Post, with whom the Guardian shares material and
prints an international weekly.
From a news perspective, not to mention the flood
of site hits, this was Salon's biggest politics
story ever -- and they named Part I their political
story of the year. But where was Part II? On their
Web site and on radio programs the magazine was
announcing Part II would appear in two days...
and in two days... and in two days... and nothing
appeared. Part II was the story blown off by the
CBS Evening News about an additional 40,000-plus
voters whom Jeb Bush barred from voting. The fact
that 90 percent of these 40,000 voters were Democrats
should have made it news... because this maneuver
alone more than accounted for Bush's victory.
I was going crazy: Gore had not yet conceded...
the timing of Part II was crucial. Where the hell
was it? Finally, an editor told me, "The story
doesn't check out. You see, we checked with Jeb
Bush's office and they said..."
Argh! It was deja vu all over again.
Another staffer added, as a kind of explanation,
"The Washington Post would never run this story."
Well, he had me there. They hadn't, they didn't.
Not yet. At least Salon helped me sneak the first
report past the border patrols. So God bless America.
While waiting for the United States to awaken,
I took my BBC film crew to Florida, having unearthed
a smoking-gun document: I had a page marked "confidential"
from the contract between the State of Florida
and the private company that had purged the voter
lists. The document contained cold evidence that
Florida knew they were taking the vote away from
thousands of innocent voters, most of them Black.
It was February. I took my camera crew into an
agreed interview with Jeb Bush's director of the
Florida Department of Elections. When I pulled
out the confidential sheet, Bush's man ripped
off the microphone and did a fifty-yard dash,
locking himself in his office, all in front of
our cameras. It was killer television and wowed
the British viewers. We even ran a confession
from the company that was hired to carry out the
purge operation. Newsworthy? Apparently not for
the United States.
My program, BBC Newsnight, has a film-trading
agreement with the ABC television network. A record
twenty thousand Net-heads in the United States
saw the BBC Webcast; and several banged on the
door of ABC TV's Nightline to run our footage,
or at least report what we found. Instead, Nightline
sent its own crew down to Florida for a couple
of days. They broadcast a story that ballots are
complex and Blacks are not well educated about
voting procedures. The gravamen of the story was,
Blacks are too frigging dumb to figure out how
to vote. No mention that in white Leon County,
machines automatically kicked back faulty ballots
for voter correction; whereas in Gadsden County,
very Black, the same machines were programmed
to eat mismarked ballots. That was in our story,
Why didn't ABC run the voter purge story? Don't
look for some big Republican conspiracy. Remember
the three elements of investigative reporting:
risk, time, money. Our BBC/Guardian stories required
all of those, in short supply in U.S. news operations.
Finally, in February, my Part II -- the report
that was too scary and difficult for Dan Rather's
show -- found asylum in the Nation magazine, that
distant journalistic planet not always visible
to the naked eye.
And then, mirabile dictu, the Washington Post
ran the story of the voter purge on page one,
including the part that "couldn't stand up" for
CBS and Salon . . . and even gave me space for
a bylined comment. Applause for the Post's courage!
Would I be ungrateful if I suggested otherwise?
The Post ran the story in June,though they had
it at hand seven months earlier when the ballots
were still being counted. They waited until they
knew the findings of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission
Report, which verified BBC's discoveries, so they
could fire from behind that big safe rock of Official
Imprimatur. In other words, the Post had the courage
to charge out and shoot the wounded.
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