In a lead editorial, the Post cited the divergent
exit polls, along with voter claims about ballot irregularities, as
prime reasons for overturning the official results. For its part, the
New York Times cited reports of “suspiciously, even fantastically, high
turnouts in regions that supported” the government candidate. The U.S.
news media is making clear that the truth about these electoral
anomalies must be told.
Of course, the election in question occurred in the
In the United States – where exit polls showed John
Kerry winning on Nov. 2, where Republican tactics discouraged
African-American voting in Democratic precincts, and where George W.
Bush’s vote totals in many counties were eyebrow-raising – the Post, the
Times and other top news outlets mocked anyone who questioned the
For instance, when we noted Bush’s surprising
performance in Dade, Broward and other Florida counties, a Washington
Post article termed us “spreadsheet-wielding conspiracy theorists.” [See
Post’s Sloppy Analysis.”] Meanwhile, the New York Times accepted
unsupported explanations for why the U.S. exit polls were so wrong,
including the theory that Kerry supporters were chattier than Bush
voters. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Evidence
of a Second Bush Coup?”]
Hypocrisy? What Hypocrisy?
But why the double standard? Why would Ukrainian
exit polls be deemed reliable evidence of fraud while American exit
polls would simply be inexplicably wrong nationwide and in six
battleground states where Kerry was shown to be leading but Bush
Logically, it would seem that U.S. exit polls would
be more reliable because of the far greater experience in refining
sampling techniques than in the Ukraine. Also, given the Ukraine’s
authoritarian past, one might expect that Ukrainian voters would be more
likely to rebuff pollsters or give false answers than American voters.
Instead, the U.S. news media chucked out or
“corrected” the U.S. exit polls – CNN made them conform to the official
results – while embracing the Ukrainian exit polls as a true measure of
the popular will.
To compound the irony, the Washington Post
editorial is now calling on George W. Bush to defend democratic
principles halfway around the world. In the Nov. 23 editorial entitled
“Coup in Kiev,” the Post wrote, “For the Bush administration, the
responsibility starts with stating the unvarnished truth about what has
happened in an election” – the one in the Ukraine, of course.
“Unvarnished truth” was far less important to the
Post, the Times and other U.S. news organizations when they were
reporting on the results of Election 2000.
Then, the cherished value was “unity,” as Americans
were urged to ignore the fact that Al Gore got more votes and instead
rally behind George W. Bush, even though he had dispatched thugs to
Florida to disrupt recounts and then enlisted his political allies on
the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the counting of votes. [For details, see
Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]
In the months that followed Election 2000, the U.S.
news media even put the cause of Bush’s legitimacy ahead of its duty to
accurately inform the public. In November 2001, after conducting an
unofficial recount of Florida’s ballots, the news outlets discovered
that if all legally cast votes had been counted – regardless of the
standard used for evaluating chads – Gore won.
That finding meant that Gore was the rightful
occupant of the White House and that Bush was a fraudulent president.
But in those days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the news
organizations again opted for “unity” over “unvarnished truth,” fudging
their own results and burying the lead of Gore’s electoral victory.
To falsely tout Bush’s “victory,” the Post, the
Times, CNN and other news outlets arbitrarily – and erroneously –
ditched so-called “overvotes,” in which voters both checked and wrote in
a candidate’s name. Not only were these votes legal under Florida law
but they apparently would have been included in the statewide recount if
the five Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court had not intervened at
Bush’s behest. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “So
Bush Did Steal the White House.”]
In another case of painful irony, the U.S.
Democratic Party is expressing more outrage about electoral fairness in
the Ukraine than in the United States. The National Democratic Institute
for International Affairs, which is sponsored by the Democratic Party,
put out a statement declaring that “fundamental flaws in Ukraine’s
presidential election process subverted its legitimacy.” [NYT, Nov. 23,
However, at home, the Democrats have accepted the
Nov. 2 outcome passively, despite widespread fury within the Democratic
base about what many see as the Bush campaign’s abusive practices.
Again, “unity” has trumped “unvarnished truth.”
It has fallen to several third-party candidates to
seek limited recounts in several states, including Ohio and New
Hampshire, a move at least designed to give assurance to millions of
Americans that the Bush campaign didn’t get away with stealing a second
election. Meanwhile, the national Democratic Party has chosen to sit on
the sidelines, presumably to avoid accusations of irresponsibility from
the Washington Post and other parts of the big U.S. news media.
So, as the Ukrainian people take to the streets to
defend the principles of democracy, including the concept that a just
government derives from the consent of the governed, the United States –
once democracy’s beacon to the world – presents its commitment to those
ideals more through hypocrisy abroad than action at home.