Monday, November 08, 2004

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann goes out on a limb. 

Keith Olbermann of Countdown on MSNBC went out on a limb tonight...
...and brought up these issues: the Homeland security memos, and a visit by those officials, to Ohio 2 or 3 weeks before the election. Said memos upped the security risk to an 8 or 9 for most of Ohio, with Warren county rating a 10. Warren county shut down the building where the election was held to media, and did not allow anyone to monitor the counting of the votes, as is usually allowed.

Olbermann could barely contain his outrage that Homeland Security seemingly interferred in the Ohio election.

He focused on the heavily democratic counties in Florida that switched over to Bush this election...numbers that defy logic.

He interviewed Rep. Conyers, one of the three Congressman who are asking the GAO to investigate voting problems, including electronic voting. Three other democratic congressman have asked to become part of that request as well.

He interviewed a reporter from Ohio who broke the Warren county story.

We should all email Olbermann to thank him, and encourage him to continue.

Olbermann points out in his blog that a candidate concession speech is not legally binding. Presidential elections are bound only by state returns and the Electoral College. hhmmm...Wonder where he's going with this.

He goes on to say:

This is mentioned because there is a small but blood-curdling set of news stories that right now exists somewhere between the world of investigative journalism, and the world of the Reynolds Wrap Hat. And while the group’s ultimate home remains unclear - so might our election of just a week ago.

Stories like these have filled the web since the tide turned against John Kerry late Tuesday night. But not until Friday did they begin to spill into the more conventional news media. That’s when the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that officials in Warren County, Ohio, had “locked down” its administration building to prevent anybody from observing the vote count there.

Suspicious enough on the face of it, the decision got more dubious still when County Commissioners confirmed that they were acting on the advice of their Emergency Services Director, Frank Young. Mr. Young had explained that he had been advised by the federal government to implement the measures for the sake of Homeland Security.

Gotcha. Tom Ridge thought Osama Bin Laden was planning to hit Caesar Creek State Park in Waynesville. During the vote count in Lebanon. Or maybe it was Kings Island Amusement Park that had gone Code-Orange without telling anybody. Al-Qaeda had selected Turtlecreek Township for its first foray into a Red State.

The State of Ohio confirms that of all of its 88 Counties, Warren alone decided such Homeland Security measures were necessary. Even in Butler County, reports the Enquirer, the media and others were permitted to watch through a window as ballot-checkers performed their duties. In Warren, the media was finally admitted to the lobby of the administration building, which may have been slightly less incommodious for the reporters, but which still managed to keep them two floors away from the venue of the actual count.

Nobody in Warren County seems to think they’ve done anything wrong. The newspaper quotes County Prosecutor Rachel Hurtzel as saying the Commissioners “were within their rights” to lock the building down, because having photographers or reporters present could have interfered with the count.

You bet, Rachel.

As I suggested, this is the first time one of the Fix stories has moved fully into the mainstream media. In so saying, I’m not dismissing the blogosphere. Hell, I’m in the blogosphere now, and there have been nights when I’ve gotten far more web hits than television viewers (thank you, Debate Scorecard readers). Even the overt partisanship of blogs don’t bother me - Tom Paine was a pretty partisan guy, and ultimately that served truth a lot better than a ship full of neutral reporters would have. I was just reading last night of the struggles Edward R. Murrow and William L. Shirer had during their early reporting from Europe in ’38 and ’39, because CBS thought them too anti-Nazi.

The only reason I differentiate between the blogs and the newspapers is that in the latter, a certain bar of ascertainable, reasonably neutral, fact has to be passed, and has to be approved by a consensus of reporters and editors. The process isn’t flawless (ask Dan Rather) but the next time you read a blog where bald-faced lies are accepted as fact, ask yourself whether we here in cyberspace have yet achieved the reliability of even the mainstream media. In short, a lot gets left out of newspapers, radio, and tv - but what’s left in tends to be, in the words of my old CNN Sports colleague NickCharles, a lead-pipe cinch.

Thus the majority of the media has yet to touch the other stories of Ohio (the amazing Bush Times Ten voting machine in Gahanna) or the sagas of Ohio South: huge margins for Bush in Florida counties in which registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 2-1, places where the optical scanning of precinct totals seems to have turned results from perfect matches for the pro-Kerry exit poll data, to Bush sweeps.