Published on Monday, October 22, 2001 in the Sydney Morning Herald

Media Suppress the News that Bush Lost Election to Gore

by Charles Laurence in Washington

The most detailed analysis yet of the contested Florida votes from
last year's presidential election - with the potential to question
President George Bush's legitimacy - is being withheld by the news
organizations that commissioned it. Results of the inspection of more
than 170,000 votes rejected as unreadable in the "hanging chad" chaos
of last November's vote count were ready at the end of August.The
study was commissioned early this year by a consortium including The
Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The New York Times and
the broadcaster CNN. The cost was more than $2 million.Now, however,
spokesmen for the consortium say that they decided to postpone the
story of the analysis by the National Opinion Research Center at the
University of Chicago for lack of resources and lack of interest in
the face of the enormous story after the September 11 attacks.
Newspapers were saying last week that the final phase of the analysis,
counting the 170,000 votes, had been postponed. "Our belief is that
the priorities of the country have changed, and our priorities have
changed," said Steven Goldstein, vice-president of corporate
communications at Dow Jones, owner of The Wall Street
Journal.Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman for The New York Times, said:
"The consortium agreed that because of the war, because of our lack of
resources, we were postponing the vote-count investigation. But this
is not final. The intention is to go forward."

However David Podvin, an investigative journalist who runs an
independent Web page, Make Them Accountable, said he had been tipped
off that the consortium was covering up the results. He refused to
disclose his source other than to describe him as a former media
executive whom he knew "as an accurate conduit of information" and who
claimed that the consortium "is deliberately hiding the results of its
recount because [former Democrat vice-president Al] Gore was the
indisputable winner".He also claims that a New York Times journalist
involved in the recount project had told "a former companion" that the
Gore victory margin was big enough to create "major trouble for the
Bush presidency if this ever gets out"."The goosiness, the sensitivity,
that the press which organized this analysis is now showing to
publishing the results and the persistence of questions about the
Florida ballots raise questions," said Dr John Mason, a professor of
political science at William Paterson University, in New Jersey."There
is a sensitivity over the legitimacy of this president." National
Opinion Research Center staff have been puzzled by the idea that the
media would lack the resources because, they said, they had computer
programs already designed and fitted for the final count.

Copyright © 2001 Sydney Morning Herald

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