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Independent Verification

An incomplete NewsMax story on the Florida election falls apart completely.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 11/11/2000

The mystery of the Independent Party is solved.

In a Nov. 8 story, NewsMax reported that the number of votes Pat Buchanan received in Palm Beach County, Fla., where controversy swirls around a presidential ballot some found confusing, was not out of proportion to his support there because the county has a large number of members of something called the Independent Party. However, the story didn't bother to give any details about the party. NewsMax's Neil Boortz adds a little light the following day by calling it "Florida's Reform Party."

Fortunately, someone else has flipped the switch on brightly. In a Nov. 10 article, reports that the Independent Party is indeed a Reform splinter group -- and one that endorsed Buchanan's Reform Party rival, John Hagelin.

Salon quotes Buchanan's Florida coordinator, Jim McConnell, as saying the Buchanan campaign didn't advertise in the Palm Beach area because Buchanan had well under a thousand supporters there, adding that he didn't even know what the Independent Party was.

But it's safe to assume that NewsMax, at the very least, should have known, given the fact that they live and work in the area and ought to be aware of the local politics. Either NewsMax staffers are political savants, able to cover the conservative movement everywhere but their own back yard, or they withheld facts from their readers in order to make politicial points. Either way, the story is a lie.

Buchanan himself weighed in on the issue on the Nov. 9 "Today" show, Salon adds: "When I took one look at that ballot on Election Night ... it's very easy for me to see how someone could have voted for me in the belief they voted for Al Gore," Buchanan said.

That's not a quote you'll find anywhere on NewsMax, historically friendly to Buchanan. But what's friendship when power is at stake?

Meanwhile, NewsMax columnists are trying to crank up the drumbeat for a voter disenfranchisement suit of their own, jumping on the fact that the TV networks called Florida for Gore (which they retracted a couple hours later) before the polls closed in the heavily Republican panhandle of western Florida, which is located in a different time zone than the rest of the state.

Problem is, they've moved up the time to make it look like more of an injustice than it is. Both Dan Frisa and Barry Farber assert the networks' call came at 7:30 p.m., a half-hour before the panhandle polls closed.

Wrong. The call occurred at 7:49 p.m. -- a mere 11 minutes before the polls closed. (WorldNetDaily, on the other hand, gets this detail correct.)

Another thing NewsMax should have known. But they've always had a habit of favoring demogoguery over knowledge.

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