Journalists like to say that they don’t let their political affiliations influence the way they cover the news. Conservatives take that with a grain of salt because they see plenty of evidence in the liberal establishment media of coverage that is slanted to favor the Democrats.
We have commented on this in the election campaign, with stories damaging to Al Gore getting far less coverage than stories damaging to George W. Bush. For example, a report of Bush’s arrest for driving under the influence 24 years ago that surfaced five days before election day got massive coverage.
On the other hand, the confirmed report that Al Gore had been a heavy user of marijuana and had even used marijuana laced with opium up until he ran for Congress in 1976 got relatively little coverage. The fact that he lied when he claimed in 1987 that his use of marijuana had been “rare and infrequent” went unnoticed during the campaign.
In the counting of the ballots in Florida, the handling of the absentee ballots from military personnel overseas became a critical issue because it might well determine whether Al Gore or George W. Bush would be our next president. We were pleased to see that in this case the liberal as well as the conservative media reported that the Democrats had launched a concerted effort to get as many of these ballots as possible thrown out.
Senator Lieberman, who appeared on five Sunday talk shows on November 19th was pressed to explain this. The Democrats were insisting that hand counting the ballots in four Democratic counties was required to insure that no ballots were rejected on technicalities if the intention of the voter was clear, but at the time they were insisting that ballots sent by servicemen overseas should be rejected if they lacked a postmark. Lieberman, who is supposed to be the moral pillar of the Democrats, waffled. He agreed that there should be no discrimination against military personnel, but he said it was not up to him to decide what to do about it.
Two days later, the Washington Times reported in a front-page story that in Duvall County, Democrats battled for 19 hours to maximize the rejection of military absentee ballots and succeeded in disqualifying ten percent of them. That included one where a Navy officer had written on the envelope that he could not get it postmarked on the ship he was on. That cost Bush 30 or 40 votes that he would need to offset the votes Gore is picking up in the hand counts being conducted to determine the intentions of the voters.
Altogether election officials rejected 1,527 of the military ballots according to an unofficial Associated Press survey. That was forty-one percent of the total received. The ballots that were counted gave Bush a net gain of 630 votes, and if all had been counted another 400 might have been added. The Democratic attorney general of Florida, Gore’s campaign chairman for Florida, said military ballots should not be thrown out just because they lacked a postmark, but the New York Times reported that this may have had more to do with cutting Democratic losses in the public relations war than with insuring a fair count.