A GENEALOGY OF VOTERGATE MEDIA COVERAGE 2004: THROUGH THE EYES OF GOOGLENEWS
November 10, 2004
By Matthew Cardinale
A textbook case of media diffusion is unfolding before our very eyes. So with the help of the ever-resourceful GoogleNews, I have charted how over the last week progressive websites forced the corporate media to pay attention to Votergate 2004.
I 've been refreshing GoogleNews and the Blackboxvoting.org site almost every 30 minutes awaiting news on whether Bev Harris has saved America yet or not. My key word searches have been "Bev Harris " and "John Conyers " (both with quotation marks) and several strings of words like "electronic, " "voting, " "fraud, " "election, " and "2004. "
Sorry I 'm obsessed, but I mean it 's only the entire basis of our democracy at stake here. The fact that the US corporate media has systematically conspired to suppress news coverage of what is now being called "Votergate " is an absolute atrocity putting into sharp visibility the need to increase and enhance progressive daily news sources in the United States.
A disclaimer is in order on methods: only sites listed on GoogleNews are included in this media coverage genealogy. If your favorite progressive news site 's article did not make GoogleNews, unfortunately many Americans didn 't see it. And while there certainly are many drawbacks to Google.com 's monopoly on American thought, I think using their news search engine is a quite worthy measure of readership given how many other people rely on it for news (ranked #3 site on Alexa).
To be sure, the New York Times, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Columbus Dispatch, and others have been reporting county-wide problems, some more troubling than others, since Election Day. Yet, for a reader of any one of these papers, there isn 't much information with which to connect any dots regarding a larger problem. So here 's where the story begins first, in terms of claiming evidence of a problem big enough to overturn election results ...
It started with an innocent-looking November 3rd USA Today article on Bev Harris ' recent Public Records Requests for voting records and mentioned some irregularities. So this is noteworthy but not a mobilizing piece.
Then, November 3rd, Buzzflash.com had contributor, Mike Whitney 's, "Sour Grapes or Voter Fraud. " Then, Counterbias.com had Joseph Cannon 's "The Case for Fraud. "
November 4th, in the Los Angeles Times, Ralph Vartabedian 's "Strain Evident in Election System " appeared. While it mentioned Bev Harris 's Public Records Request toward the end, it mostly focused on long lines at polling places. This article was reprinted in the Monterey Herald.
Still November 4th, Greg Palast 's "Kerry Won, " which ran on Commondreams.org, was the first article to claim that, namely, Kerry won, but it focused mostly on the 3% of ballots that get thrown out in all election as "spoilage. " Yet, coverage of the electronic voting machine problems and counting problems accumulating in various counties took a couple days to really emerge on what George W. Bush calls "the internets. "
November 4th, Thom Hartmann 's "The Ultimate Felony Against Our Democracy "
appeared on Commondreams.org, Truthout.org, Opednews.com, and other sites, but it wasn 't clear from the title what it was about, so I didn 't think to read this one until the following day. Later versions appeared on Axisoflogic.com and the International Labor Communiciations Association (ILCA) website.
Other great articles were out by the end of the day, November 4th, including Opednews.com 's "Never Say Die-Bold, " by Jackson Thoreau, which also appeared on ModerateIndependent.com. Sheila Samples 's helpful and encouraging "The Last Battle " appeared on PressAction.com, Opednews.com, DissidentVoice.org, and Media Monitors Network.
Sheila Samples 's article mentioned the considerable blogging and archiving on the electoral fraud investigation that was being done at DemocraticUnderground.com. I later found an incredible resource compilation available at Democrats.com. So, again, GoogleNews does not have all the answers. But I surfed high and low for other sources, including repeated visits to Moveon.org to find not a mention of the issue there.
November 5th, readers saw Thom Hartmann 's piece on Alternet.org, "Exit Polls Right, Tallies Wrong? " Then, Shane Cory 's "Should America Trust the Election Results? " appeared in Washington Dispatch. Also, Wired.com ran an informative article, "House Dems Seek Election Inquiry " with access to the full-text of Rep. Conyer 's letter to the General Accounting Office (GAO).
Saturday, November 6th was like a watershed day. Thom Hartmann 's unmistakably named, "Evidence Mounts That the Vote May Have Been Hacked, "
ran as Commondreams.org 's lead story. It ran also on ILCA Online, Opednews.com, and Truthout.org.
Monday, November 8th, William Rivers Pitt 's article, "Worse Than 2000:
Tuesday 's Electoral Disaster, " appeared on Truthout.org, ILCA Online, Liberalslant.com, and Yubanet.com. Bob Fitrakis 's "None Dare Call it Voter Suppression or Fraud " ran on Dissidentvoice.org, the ILCA Website, and The Free Press of Columbus, Ohio.
Also, Monday, November 8th, Pacifica Radio and Amy Goodman 's "Democracy Now " program interviewed Bev Harris and focused on the election fraud investigation, the transcript of which was made available on the ILCA website.
Then, ILCA published "Media Blacks Out Voting Problems " on their website.
David Swanson, the author, wrote how he sees developing labor-oriented media as a number one priority of this country. Swanson 's article re-appeared on Counterpunch.org.
The corporate media breakthrough came when MSNBC 's Olbermann talked about the election fraud investigation on TV, which also made it on MSNBC.com.
Given that this bodacious step was already taken, Sheila Lennon 's commentary suddenly appeared in the Press-Enterprise and on the websites for three TV stations.
Today, November 8th, I have seen a slew of new postings, now on both corporate media and on progressive media. The Los Angeles Times has Ralph Vartabedian back with Henry Weinstein, in "Ohio is Set to Reckon with Outstanding Ballots. " MSNBC 's David Shuster writes now that he sees some serious concerns regarding vote counting problems in Ohio, although he 's less worried about Florida. The Nation finally took notice with David Corn 's "A Stolen Election? " As I write this, copious postings are appearing on The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Minnesota Star Tribune, The Madison Capital Times, and Salon.com.
An exciting recent posting at the ILCA 's website says six Congressman have signed a second letter to the GAO demanding an investigation.
Let 's hope we get an investigation. Let 's hope even the corporate media will take this to center stage coverage. And let 's congratulate the effectiveness of some brave progressive media sources in getting the word out, despite the corporate monopoly of news.
Matthew Cardinale is a freelance writer, activist, and graduate student at UC Irvine in Sociology and Democracy Studies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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