July 04, 2004

Sigh....It Never Ends

I'd like to talk about something besides Fahrenheit 9/11, bI just get irked when people are that deceptive. There's a guy with a website up supposedly "refuting" the debunking of Moore's film. The latest post to piss me off is this one:

8. Who called Florida in favor of Bush?
FFact and others make a solid point when they claim Moore's film makes "the assertion that the Fox News Channel was the reason that other networks began to call Florida for Bush instead of Gore." They claim that Fox was actually one of the networks that mistakenly called Florida for Gore around 8:00 pm election night and it wasn't until after 2:00am that Fox ended up calling Florida for Bush, which was the first network to do so even though the recounts into the early hours of the morning showed, according to Newsweek, Bush's suppossed lead dwindling. Here is how FFact puts it:

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. At 10:00 p.m., which network took the lead in retracting the premature Florida result? The first retracting network was CBS, not Fox.

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.

All there facts are in line and for a great insight into how and CBS made their calls, view this document (very cool). The only problem is that once again their is no proof or validity to the claim that Moore lied. All the movie says is that all the networks had called Florida for Gore and then a network called the Fox News channel called it for Bush. True, Moore never gives you a timeline and never and mentions that Fox had originally called Florida for Gore but the fact of the matter is that all the networks had originally called Florida for Gore until Fox called it for Bush at 2:06am.

Furthermore, CBS only retracted their claim that Gore won Florida at 10:00pm but never call it in favor of Bush. It wasn't until Fox called it for Bush did any netowrk follow suit. So while Moore may not give his viewers all the underlying facts, his main argument that all the networks had Florida for Gore until Fox called it the other way is entirely factual.

And here's my response:

...You're clearly missing the point here. First of all, calling Florida for Bush at 2:16 (not 2:06 as you said) means absolutely squat--the polls are ALL CLOSED! The networks themselves don't actually "pick" the winner, they only make educated (sometimes, anyway) guesses. So when the polls are closed, they can call whomever they want as a winner. The only thing that matters at that point is the actual count. What does matter is when a network makes a bad call while the polls are still open. What Moore is implying is that Fox News got all the other networks to change their tune and thereby influence the voters. Think about it--if Moore isn't claiming some kind of voter influence, then why even mention it? Who gives a shit what the networks say? It's not like their word is Law. "Um...Well, the votes say that Gore won, but Fox already told America Bush won, so...um...I guess Bush gets it."

So, was there a possibility of voter influence? You better believe it. But it's not what you think. Follow along...

Moore starts out the film by saying:
"It was election night 2000 and everything seemed to be going as planned."

Really? I suppose it would be if you were a Bush supporter. Moore shows clips of NY, NJ, Delaware, and then Florda declaring wins for Gore. Problem--until florida was called for Gore at 7:49, the only state Gore had won was Vermont, with 3 electoral votes. In fact, up until 7:49, it was a projected 54-3 race for Bush. I'd hardly say that was "going as planned." NJ and Deleware were called at 8:00 and NY at 9:00. Moore is lying. And let me be blunt with you...you seem to have a very narrow definition of a lie. Here's the definition from my Oxford Dictionary:

· n. an intentionally false statement. a situation involving deception or founded on a mistaken impression.
· v. (lies, lied, lying) tell a lie or lies. (of a thing) present a false impression. [emphasis mine]

In many of your posts, you seem to be relying on the "that's not exactly what he said" argument, when obviously--according to the above definition--the impression he gives matters just as much, so let's just put that little game of semantics to bed right now.

Where was I? Oh yes, voter influence. Now the independent report by CBS claims that:

Contrary to the hypothesis that the early call in Florida for Gore discouraged West Coast voters, I have suggested that CBS News’ coverage of the race as close was likely to lead those in the West to conclude that their votes would matter.

Nice sentiment, but crap. First of all, most of the report is one big "cover your ass." "Suggested?" "Likely?" Not very certain. They even compare themselves to the other networks. The message? "Well, at least we weren't as bad as those other guys." The fact that much of the report details corrections that need to be made illustrates that they know it was a royal screw-up. If it was no big deal they'd keep the status quo. The report later goes on to say:

There is little evidence that early election calls affect turnout or voting patterns, but there is no way to prove that these calls have no effect on voting.

Clearly, that tends to refute the earlier statement.

To justify the "no influence" argument, the report claims:

More than 60 percent of the country’s 538 electoral votes are cast by states whose polls close by 8:00 PM, EST, a full three hours before polls close in the West. More than 80 percent are cast by states whose polls close by 9:00 PM, EST. It is obvious how easily a candidate can amass the needed 270 electoral votes in states that have closed their polls and begun reporting their results by 9:00 PM, EST. The last time before this year that the winner was not known before 11:00 PM, EST, was in 1976.

In addition, more than 85 percent of those who voted in the 2000 election cast their ballots before the networks even began their election coverage at 7:00 PM, EST.

Sounds pretty iron-clad, no? Well, if the election was determined by the popular vote, and it wasn't a close race, those would be some bad-ass statistics. But it's not, and it was. Let me throw some figures of my own at you. I'll even use the CBS report statistics.

There were 15 states in the 2000 election decided by a margin of 5% or less. Gore won 9 of them. At 7:49, when Florida was mistakenly called for Gore, the polls were still open in all 9 states. That's 96 electoral votes at stake. That's the election. Think 5% is a little high? The states he won by less than 3% of the vote still add up to 40 electoral votes. Still more than enough to balance Florida. Nine states that suddenly think Gore has 25 more electoral votes.

Several times throughout the report, they maintain:

[Dan] Rather assumed that a win by Gore in Florida made him viable and the race close. Faced with this information, Republicans and Democrats in the West presumably would be motivated to believe that their votes would count and hence be more inclined to go to the polls.

Well that's great...a win makes him viable and motivates the voters. Folks, that is a clear admission of voter influence. What they're trying to say is that well, we made a mistake, and it influenced the voters, but in a good way, because it got more people to vote. Hey, morons....you still influenced the vote! But here's what they're NOT saying. If the state was called too close, as it should have been, then Gore is not "more viable," especially considering that some of the other networks were saying he had to win Florida. What then? Isn't it conceivable that votes in those nine hotly contested states could have ended up differently? Imagine a few Nader supporters in Wisconson (11 votes), which Gore won by less than 1%. Is it possible that upon hearing that Gore "won" Florida that they thought "hey, Gore could win this thing," and change their vote? How about those Gore supporters in Minnesota (10 votes), which Gore won by 2%, who might have stayed home if they didn't think he was "more viable"?

Of course, as we said, we can't prove any of this. But at least this scenario has some validity. It's well within the realm of possibility. Moore's, because the Fox News call for Bush took place after the polls closed, is impossible.


  1. Anonymous10:22 AM

    And don't forget all those GOP voters in California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska who, once hearing that the media was calling the election for Gore based upon Florida, decided to stay home thinking their guy had lost.

    True, if those Republican voters still went out and cast their ballots for Bush, the Electoral College vote probably wouldn't have changed, but Bush more than likely would have nailed down the popular vote, too.

    (Actually, following numerous voting recounts across America the past few years, a number of groups -- many non-partisan -- are declaring that, considering the number of illegal -- and thus invalid -- votes cast for Gore throughout the U.S. in 2000, Bush probably did win the popular vote by 500,000 ballots or more.)

  2. Anonymous10:23 AM

    By the way, that was me.