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Larry King Live

Will Florida Courts Decide Election 2000?

Aired November 16, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, day nine, still no president-elect. Attorneys in legal fights as the battle of the ballots rages on. Joining us in Tallahassee, Dexter Douglass, the top Gore campaign attorney and from the Bush camp, attorney Barry Richard. In Washington, Republican Congressman Billy Tauzin, he's charging media bias. Also in D.C., Democrat Congressman Ed Markey.

And then a panel with famed journalist Bob Woodward in New York and the president of the Radio, Television News Directors Association, Barbara Cochran in D.C. Also, CNN legal analyst Roger Cossack. Then, top radio talkers. From New York Joan Rivers, and in Greensboro, North Carolina, talk show host Janet Parshall. They are all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

A return visit now with two of the top attorneys on the scene for both camps in Florida. Both in court all the time, it appears. Barry Richard, the lead Florida trial counsel for the Bush campaign. His firm is Greenberg Traurig, and Dexter Douglass, attorney for the Gore campaign. Barry, which court were you in today?

BARRY RICHARD, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: I was in no court, today. I sat in my office and had another attorney attend Judge Lewis's court because I was afraid that the Supreme Court on short notice was going to invite us to come over and argue. As it turned out, they never did. So, I had my first semi-relaxing day in I can't remember how long.

KING: Dexter Douglass, where were you today?

DEXTER DOUGLASS, GORE CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: Well, I was in circuit court and I think I spent most of the day in a Leon County courthouse and part of the day waiting on the Supreme Court.

KING: Now, Dexter, are we getting some decision tomorrow from the judge in circuit court on the secretary of state's decision to certify Saturday?

DOUGLASS: It's my understanding that he's entering an order in the morning around 10:00 or 10:30. That's what we were told this afternoon. He told us in court that he might get it out at 4:30, but then he advised us through the court administrator's office that it would be out between 10:00 and 10:30 tomorrow morning.

KING: Barry Richard, could he -- could a circuit court judge stop the secretary of state from certifying the vote on Saturday?

RICHARD: Well, a circuit court judge can order the secretary of state to stop, and I think she would be obliged, as with any judge, to obey his order until an appellate court reversed it. I think it would be inappropriate given the state of the evidence at this stage for him to do that.

KING: Was it a victory, Barry, for the other side today when the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the manual count going on in Broward, now started in Palm Beach, maybe in Dade, can go on?

RICHARD: No. I don't think it was victory for either side. And I don't think it moved us any closer to a final resolution. The only thing that the Supreme Court did today essentially was to say that the parties were in the wrong court. That petition had asked the Supreme Court to decide whether the opinion of the attorney general or the opinion of the secretary of state, which were in conflict, which one of those was correct, and what the Supreme Court said was we've already had a circuit court that has ruled here, and that takes precedence over either one of those opinions.

So everybody obey the circuit court for the time being. What the circuit court said was that they could continue to count ballots. Nobody's appealed that decision yet. It's not before the Supreme Court for review and so the what Supreme Court told us is basic, elementary, law school law which is as long as you've got an order of the court, everybody abide by it until somebody reviews it.

KING: Dexter, agree or disagree?

DOUGLASS: Well, that's a different spin, but basically, the legal explanation that Barry gave is correct. The Supreme Court did state flatly that the counties can continue to count, which is very important, because if they're ever going to finish, they've got to count, and they've been delayed, and the secretary of state has put barriers up in front of them. Sent letters directing them to quit.

Just done everything that could be done to interfere with those local boards in proceeding to recount these votes. And raising all sort of problems for them, and now the court, I think, has sort of said with this order, cut that out. And let's let this thing go forward.

And let's quit stopping the counting of the vote and we can determine certification question or these other questions at a later date, obviously. If they ever count the votes, it may become moot. If Vice President Gore does not overcome the 300 vote margin with a gain that would all be moot. And...

KING: Ah, but there's the rub. Barry Richard, this a hypothetic, supposing the secretary of state certifies on Saturday. And then they keep counting and it's revealed on Monday -- this is all hypothetical -- that Gore goes ahead on their count. Forget the legalistics a minute, you'd have a PR uproar, wouldn't you?

RICHARD: Well, you know, PR isn't my business. It's not what I was hired for and it's not -- I think it's important to the credibility of my role as a legal advocate that I not get involved in the PR. I think that the credibility of my opinions, both with public and with my client, and with the court rest with my not getting involved in it.

So I try to restrict myself to the legal issues. I don't think that the continuing of the vote or the completion of the vote really has any bearing upon what the ultimate legal disposition of this issue will be.

KING: Dexter, do you have an opinion as to what the circuit court will say tomorrow?

DOUGLASS: Well, I would hope that he would follow with what he said in his first order where he made a very gentle direction to the secretary, which I think was correct. She is a statewide official and I think he told her, which everybody understood, that she should quit interfering with these boards, and consider to use her discretion, whatever she had, in a manner which would accomplish the will of the people in counting of the votes.

And I think, today, we presented to him the things she had done to frustrate that, and from a legal standpoint, we are hopeful, at least, that tomorrow morning, he will follow through and order her to consider extending the count for a week because that's how much we wasted or they've wasted, in trying to get counting done.

KING: What do you mean calling her to consider? He can't order her to?

DOUGLASS: Well, I think he could order her to and I think he probably will. I don't think the court really likes to order a statewide executive officer of any kind. They like to say do this or you know some other...

KING: Please.

DOUGLASS: Well, I don't think they will say please that might not work in this case. I think that's what he said a little bit last night.

KING: Barry, what do you think he's going to do tomorrow?

RICHARDS: Well, this is one of the interesting things about lawyers. See, now I think that Dexter is a very fine lawyer. I have a very high regard for him. And I think that I hope that I have a reputation as being a quality lawyer and he and I are looking at the same facts and the same law and we sure have different interpretations of it.

What the judge said was, and what I think was correct, he said that she must exercise some discretion. She can't just say I'm not accepting anything without even looking at them. But he very emphatically said I will not tell her how to exercise that discretion. She did exercise it. She did it in a sensible way. She explained in some detail the manner in which she did it and I don't see how the judge could overturn that without stepping into her shoes, sweeping away what she did, exercising his own judgment as to the facts with regard to each one of those counties, picking and choosing, saying I think this one is OK. This one's not OK.

In other words, thrusting himself into the position of the secretary of state and that violates the Constitution separation of powers doctrine. Judges are not supposed to do that.

KING: We will get a break and come back with more of Barry Richard Dexter Douglass and then two Congressmen are going to go at it as to whether Congress should look into how the networks handle all of this. Don't go away.


WILLIAM DALEY, GORE CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: We are obviously gratified by the unanimous ruling of the Florida Supreme Court authorizing the continuation of the manual recounts. The Supreme Court's clear and unambiguous ruling that the counties are authorized to proceed with the manual recount is a victory for everyone who wants to see the votes counted fully and fairly here in Florida.




JAMES BAKER, OBSERVER FOR BUSH CAMPAIGN: I'd like to suggest to you that you have just witnessed a superb example of the art of legal spin. A one-paragraph interim order of the Florida Supreme Court has just been portrayed to you by my good friend, Secretary Daley, as the biggest thing since night baseball.


KING: The response of Jim Baker.

We're with Barry Richard and Dexter Douglass. By the way, I mentioned last night that Barry Richard's father, Mel Richard, was the late mayor of Miami Beach. I am informed that he's still very much alive, he's 88 years old, and he goes to his office every day. Mel Richard -- so apologies to Mel Richard.

A couple of other things, guys. Dexter, what do you think will happen in the federal court of appeals in Atlanta over the whole question of recounting?

DOUGLASS: Well, I really haven't been involved in that, but the -- obviously, the issue is whether the federal courts should interfere in the Florida business. It's a states rights issue which is involved, and I guess the overriding issue that is trying to be put forward by the Bush campaign would try to invoke a federal question for denial of equal protection of the laws or some argument such as that. I haven't been privy to the briefs.

But that would be the issue here, because the Constitution assumes and directs that the states determine how people are elected to Congress and to the Senate and the...

KING: Barry, what's your read on the federal argument?

RICHARD: Well, I agree with Dexter that federal courts should not and do not thrust themselves into issues involving interpretation of state law, but that's not what's involved in the federal action. The federal action, challenge is the recounts in four counties here as being a violation of federal equal protection rights and due process rights, which federal courts not only have the right to be in but have an obligation to be involved in.

Obviously, the 11th Circuit has some serious concerns about that, because they not only have taken up the case, but they've agreed to hear it with all 12 of the judges. Ordinarily, judges in the 11th Circuit sit in a three-member panel. It's very rare that they take it in a case in which all 12 justices -- judges will hear it. And I think there are some very serious constitutional arguments raised.

Interestingly, by the way, the equation here is that in order to win legally Mr. Gore would have to win both the state and the federal issues. Mr. Bush could win either one of them and be successful.

KING: Do either of you think this will be over Saturday? Dexter?

DOUGLASS: No, but I'd like -- could I respond to that?

KING: Sure.

DOUGLASS: I knew I was in trouble, Larry, when he said I was a great lawyer and he went forward with his explanation about the Supreme Court and what the effect of it is and what the judge is going to rule tomorrow. And now he's telling us what -- in effect, what the federal court is doing.

I don't know what the federal court is going to rule tomorrow. I don't know what the circuit court is going to rule tomorrow, and neither does anyone else.

The legal issues have been argued in court, and for a non-PR fellow, my good friend and good lawyer, Barry, is a pretty good one with his spins that he's put on these issues. Now, I...

KING: Do -- do either...


Do either of you think...

DOUGLASS: I didn't intend to. I may have.

KING: Barry or Dexter, do either of you think this is going to end Saturday?

DOUGLASS: What do you mean "end"?

KING: End -- we will know the next president Saturday night.

DOUGLASS: No, I don't think so.

KING: Barry?

RICHARD: Well, I don't think that these cases will have run their course by Saturday night. We may know the next president if ultimately the legal case is affirmed, whoever is announced as president.

But no, I think the questions you're asking is no, and by the way, if Dexter thought I was predicting what either of these courts would do, I learned a long time ago never to predict what a court would do. I'm just trying to address what I think the issues are that the court is considering.

KING: Thank you, fellows. We'll probably see you both tomorrow night. Barry Richard and Dexter Douglass, expert advocates for their points of view, as you can tell.

When we come back, Congressman Billy Tauzin of Louisiana and Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts. We're going to go at it and the networks and the coverage of the elections. Don't go away.


KING: By the way, a reminder: Saturday's night edition of LARRY KING LIVE will be live. Normally, it's LARRY KING WEEKEND and a taped show. It will be live Saturday night. We'll be live until all this is done.

Welcoming now to LARRY KING LIVE from our studios in Washington, Congressman Billy Tauzin, Republican of Louisiana. Billy is the chairman of the House Commerce Committee, which oversees legislation affecting the networks. Also in Washington, Congressman Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Ed is the ranking Democrat on the House Telecommunications Subcommittee.

All right, what do you want to investigate, Congressman Tauzin?

REP. BILLY TAUZIN (R), LOUISIANA: Well, Larry, first of all, I think all the networks admit they blew it the other night. I mean, the calls were made incorrectly, and particularly in Florida. They had to recall them and put them in too-close-to-call and pull them back. It was a mess.

Obviously, something went wrong with the system by which this Voter News Service, the system that gathers the exit poll data, fed information into all the networks who all rely upon this single service now, and these calls were made, the most important one of course being Florida, was called so badly, so early, while people in Florida were still voting, which is the most egregious part of what I think happened the other night.

KING: So you...

TAUZIN: So we want to...

KING: ... wish to do what?

TAUZIN: Well, we want to find what went wrong. We've examined the patterns of the calls and we found some disturbing patterns in the way in which the system worked. For example, we found out that all of the states that George Bush won by six points or more, that nine of those states were actually put in the too-close-to-call category, but no states where Al Gore won it by six points or more were ever put in the too-close-to-call category. They were all called immediately.

KING: Meaning?

TAUZIN: The same pattern -- the same pattern exists for states that were eventually delayed in the call. Gore states were called quickly, Bush states were called much later.

KING: So you're saying there's a bias?

TAUZIN: If there's a reason for it, we want to know what it is.

KING: You're hinting at a bias, though, right?

TAUZIN: Well, bias appears from the documents. What we're asking is, was this an intentional bias or was this unintentional consequence of a bad modeling system? And so what we want to do is get the networks in, examine what happened that night, and hopefully find out what broke and how we can fix it.

And secondly, what I might do, along with my friend Mr. Markey and others, in a bipartisan way to make sure that this doesn't happen again, because it had, I think, a serious effect on the outcome of this election.

KING: Ed Markey, what is your response?

REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, in Florida, I really do believe that the problem wasn't the exit polls. I think that the problem was the punch cards. In other words, I think the networks did gather the accurate information from the voters as they left the polls. I think what happened, however, is that 10, 20, 30,000 of these punch cards hadn't been correctly counted for Al Gore. And as a result, the polls looked like they are at odds with the actual vote. But when I think this whole process is done, the networks are going to look good, because it is going to wind up actually confirming what they did on Election Night.

So, Billy and I, we do agree on the issue of ensuring, if we can, with cooperation from the networks, that states don't call before the polls close.

But on the other hand, I tend to disagree with Billy, though, in terms of the kind of the allegation that this bias at the networks, that they called the states that Gore was going to win, faster than they called the states that George Bush was going to win. I don't think that there is any bias in that way. I think they called them the way they saw them.

I think that, in fact, the one bias that the networks have is to get it first, that there is a kind of a blackbird phenomenon, when, in journalism, when one blackbird jumps, they all jump. When one network calls a state, they all jump. And that doesn't make any difference. Whether it is FOX, or it's CNN or NBC, they go regardless of any personal biases that they might have in the political system.

KING: And the networks are already telling you, Billy, that they deny anything, right? Any bias at all. They're mistakes, maybe, but no bias.

TAUZIN: Well, CNN, for example, just sent a letter saying we deny we intentionally biased the call. And I've not alleged that anybody intentionally biased the calls, yet. All I'm saying is the evidence indicates that there was bias in the system.

When the pattern exists in every state, that if it was a Gore state it was called earlier for the same margin victory than a Bush state. If only the Bush states with wins of six to 15 points, landslide proportions, were delayed in the count, and those states for Gore were delayed in the call, something is wrong with that system.

It created an image of Bush sweeping the country -- rather, Gore sweeping the electoral -- the electoral count and Bush lagging behind. That may have, we think, affected the votes, not only in the Panhandle of Florida, but also in the West Coast significantly.

KING: Will you include FOX in that? Because, Fox, one of their head news guys, was a relative of Bush, talking to the Bush camp apparently throughout the night. There is a whole look into that. And FOX was reporting the same thing everyone else was reporting.

TAUZIN: Yes, indeed.

KING: If there was bias, what happened at FOX?

TAUZIN: Well, that is exactly what we want to know. Was there bias at FOX? ABC? NBC? CBS?

Here is one of the biggest problems. The biggest problem was that when this election was called for Florida in the Al Gore camp at 7:50, it was 4:50 on the West Coast. Florida falls, Pennsylvania falls, Michigan falls, all of you are saying, look, man, all the battleground states are going for Al Gore.

On the West Coast, a dramatic effect occurred. Voters didn't vote. We had the lowest Republican turnout in decades. There were volunteers leaving at 5:00: 5 o'clock is when all this news was breaking on the West Coast.

The same thing happened to the Democrats in 1980 when Carter conceded too early and Democrats failed to vote. What I do agree upon is maybe it is time for a national simultaneous vote polling closing hour so that all polls close at the same time across the country.

KING: Ed, do you agree at least that it should be looked into?

MARKEY: I think it -- yes, I don't mind having the hearing. I do have some problems, however, about having congressional investigators getting into the heart of the news-gathering business at all of the networks across the country. And I think you put your finger on it a little bit earlier when you said that one of the Bush relatives was making the call at FOX. Now, what possible reason could he have for calling Al Gore in Florida as the key state at 8:00 at night? He had no reason.

The reason he did it was that he was a journalist. And all of the journalists had all been misled by the exit polls that had been gathered because, obviously, these punch cards weren't being correctly tabulated, because of all these hanging chads, et cetera.

So, yes, it is fine if we can have the hearings if we wind up with some uniform closing time across the country and we wind up with the networks agreeing not to call states before the state's closed.

But, I would not be happy if we were telling the networks that Congress believes that you are biased to the Democrats or to Republicans in your calls, because I just don't think that is a conclusion that we can reach based upon facts presented to us.

KING: We'll get a break and I want to ask both of these gentlemen what they think Congress is going to be like in next four years, no matter who is president. And then we will meet our panel and then later our radio talk show hosts. We'll be right back.


KING: The question for each of you gentlemen, starting with you, Billy, it has been -- the word going around today is the loser in this may be the winner. What's it going to be like governing the next four years?

First, Congressman Tauzin.

TAUZIN: Well, on the optimistic side, whoever wins is going to have to work in a very bipartisan way toward the center. I mean, if we are going to get anything done in the next four years. This is going to be a very trying time for the country. But we have been there before. We have been through some pretty tough years, as you know, with impeachment, and government shutdowns. And when it came time for us to get together and to pass some bills, the balanced budget bill, and the Welfare reform, et cetera, we finally came together and did it.

This may be a call for us to finally say, you know, look, we are all Americans first and we need to do our country's business for a change instead of continuing to play politics when the election is over. KING: Ed Markey, what do you think?

MARKEY: I think the mood in Congress next year is going to be completely contingent upon how the presidency is finally decided. If it is done in a way which can gain the respect of both parties, then, there will be amicable relations next year in Congress. But if not, then there could be a sulfurous explosion of political animosity.

KING: Really?

MARKEY: Absolutely, if there is a sense, by one party or the other, that the election has been stolen -- now, I'm not predicting that is going to be the result, but I'm saying is that only events as they unfold over the next month will actually determine what the mood of Congress is next year.

TAUZIN: Larry, Senator Gross said the most important speech this year speech will be the speech given by the loser. I think that is correct.

KING: Yes, but isn't it, at this point, the feeling, almost, that whoever loses is going to say, I was robbed?

TAUZIN: I don't know yet. Frankly, I hope not. I mean, there is a lot of -- there is an awful lot of emotion right now and I think the emotions in Florida are spilling out all over the country. But we've got to contain this at some point. It is going to get out of hand.

MARKEY: It could wind up, you know, with a unanimous decision by the Rehnquist court upholding the counting of all of these chads. And that would be a Republican court making the decision. That could resolve it that way. But you could go through 10 scenarios in terms how far this could wind up, five of them leading to good relations and five of them to a bitter two-year struggle...

KING: Including you guys selecting the next president.

TAUZIN: Yes, and you can think of five scenarios there, Larry.


KING: Congressman Billy Tauzin, Ed Markey, who have announced tonight they will vote for each other if this comes to pass.

We thank you both very much.

When we come back, Bob Woodward, Barbara Cochran and Roger Cossack go at it. Don't go away.


KING: Later, talk show hosts Joan Rivers and Janet Parshall will tell us what their listeners are telling them. Right now, Bob Woodward, the Pulitzer Prize winner from "The Washington Post." His brand new book, "Maestro," -- it's all about Alan Greenspan -- is now everywhere. Barbara Cochran is in Washington. President of the Radio and Television News Director's Association, formerly vice president of news and Washington bureau chief at CBS, former executive producer for NBC's "Meet the Press." And also in Washington our own CNN legal analyst, co-host of "BURDEN OF PROOF," Roger Cossack.

Bob Woodward, we just heard the two Congressmen say unless this ends in some sort of nice way, you're going to have a problem. Isn't there already? The loser is hinting that it was stolen, whoever wins this?

BOB WOODWARD, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think some supporters of either side are hinting that. I think Gore and Bush are better people and better politicians, and I cannot imagine one of them getting up the loser and saying, it was stolen from me.

I think, though, in the last day there has been at least a temporary momentum shift on this to Gore. Namely, those recounts are going to go ahead, whether those votes are certified but the best projection, and again, no one knows where it's going to go, is that Gore will get more votes, and we are going to know what those numbers are.

If they put Gore ahead, then you are going to have a situation where Bush won initially and now Gore is on the verge of winning if the secretary of state in Florida certifies those votes. Then you really do pour gasoline on the situation and getting a happy ending becomes much more difficult.

KING: Barbara Cochran, it will be the courts, will it not? It'll have to be courts, eventually a court, that settles this?

BARBARA COCHRAN, RTNDA PRESIDENT: Well, I guess so. It's -- you know, where this story is going, we don't know, and I think we're probably all very wise not to make our projections too far into the future at this point.

KING: Are you -- do you fear a sort of mood in the nation that no matter who wins this, the loser, whether the loser says it or not, the loser's supporters are going to have a tough time dealing with it?

COCHRAN: I think it's a very dangerous situation. Certainly, if the outcome is seen to be arrived at unfairly, then there will be a very large number of people who will be embittered about it, and I think that's why it's so incumbent on the two -- on Gore and on Bush to try to come to some kind of satisfactory conclusion, and I agree the loser's speech is probably the most important speech. That was a great line.

KING: Roger Cossack, will the courts be the definer of all of this?

ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think they will, Larry, and I hope it's sooner than later because the, you know, the ultimate nightmare that we see right now is that we've seen a court that has told the people, the precincts to go ahead, the counties to go ahead and count and yet as it stands right now, we have a secretary of state who says I'm not going count those votes.

And we see this horrible scenario that could possibly happen in the future where the secretary of state says, come Saturday, all right, I hereby certify that perhaps Vice President Bush wins and then a week from now, Palm Beach and a few of those other counties come in and say, well, we have 5,000 more votes for Vice President Gore and now Vice President Gore had the most number of votes as well as -- the most number of electoral votes as well as the most number of popular votes and yet he's not the president.

So I think it's up to the courts definitely to make some kind of sense of this and to make sure the person that has the most votes wins.

KING: We love to blame, I guess. Bob Woodward, when we get right down to it, will Florida be the one blamed for this? Will it be the one we point to and say, you goofed?

WOODWARD: No, I don't think Florida goofed. I think we just had the closest election down there and we had the closest election in the country. But in fairness to the Bush camp, there is another scenario, namely, that these recounts are held and Gore does not go ahead, even though it's not certified, and then you get to a point where Gore has had his recount even though it hasn't been included and say he only gets a hundred votes, 150 votes and Bush is still ahead by Saturday, I think there would be much hydraulic pressure in the system everywhere to urge Gore to withdraw and think about 2004.

KING: Barbara, what do you make of all the protests and the discussion with the two Congressmen added to it, about the news media's role in this?

COCHRAN: Well, it's obviously something that is being talked about both within the media and outside and I just want to say that I think that I think that Congressman Tauzin's comments about whether there might be bias in the calls, I don't think that's going to stand up when all of the facts are examined. Anybody who's been in a news room on election night knows that it would be impossible to orchestrate a plot to pull off something like that on election night.

But I think that the response of the networks and the Voter News Service which provided all the data on which the projections were based has been good, either taking it very seriously. They are all planning to do reviews of their own procedures. Some of the networks have brought in outside people to assist in this. They will make a report and, you know, I think it's important to be accountable to the public, but I think that they are taking exactly the right steps.

I do worry about Congress becoming too intrusive in the journalistic process. And that's something that -- certainly Chairman Tauzin is a long time defender of the First Amendment. I don't believe that he'll go too far.

KING: Roger, do you think that the reporting -- say, early reporting giving a state here, a state there affects the rest of the vote? COSSACK: You know, Larry it's hard to say. They're able to point out, of course, that the people who voted -- the number of people who voted on the West Coast were the lowest and that was after, at least what Congressman Tauzin believes was the reporting by the press that indicated that perhaps Gore was going win, but there is a couple legal issue here -- a couple of legal issues I'd like to point out.

One is, of course, our wonderful First Amendment, which freedom of the press. And I don't think anybody wants to be in the position where we have Congress telling the press when they can distribute news and when they can't distribute news and there's one other problem that I don't think many people have thought of. If the networks got together and all agreed that they would not report the news until a certain period of time later on, you know, I think that technically, that's a violation of the antitrust laws. It's a restraint of trade, and what is that trade? It's the reporting of news. So I think the networks are in a tough spot.

Now does that mean we all can't be a little better at what we do or be a little more responsible? Of course we can do that, but remember there's that First Amendment out there and we don't want to be in the position of trying to distribute or trying to censor news.

KING: Back with more of Bob Woodward, Barbara Cochran and Roger Cossack. More tomorrow night and Friday and again, live Saturday night as well. Don't go away.


KING: Bob Woodward, I know you've spent a lot of time writing a book, and one day you'll be on to just talk about that book, "Maestro." But taking a step back and trying to be objective, even though you're with "The Washington Post," how are we going in covering this 10 days -- it'll be 10 days tomorrow -- how are the networks, how's the press doing?

WOODWARD: I think a really good job. I think it's obviously an important story. It is historic, and there are so many tentacles and forums and arenas. I used to write about the courts, and this state court and that Supreme Court and the appellate court at the federal level, and I think the average person is truly baffled.

On the question of what happened election night, I think Congressman Tauzin is asking a series of very good and important questions. I think it's up to -- the networks made mistakes, significant mistakes. The former editor of "The Washington Post," Ben Bradlee, used to say, "When you make a mistake, do a 100 percent grovel?" And the networks probably need to do that, and they also need to engage in a very serious self-investigation and explain themselves, not only to the congressmen, but to the public and to other media what exactly happened and then what the procedure is going to be next time.

KING: Barbara Cochran, you obviously have a bias, but how do you think the coverage has been? COCHRAN: Well, I think it's been extraordinary. It's involved so many resources and so much effort on the part of everybody, and the public seems to be loving it. I think the great thing about this coverage is that it has been very fact-based. I think we haven't strayed too much into the area of speculation. To the degree that experts are interviewed, they're used for their expertise. They're not asked to go off into the wild blue yonder on something.

And I also think the point that Bob made about accountability is extremely important. At RTNDA this year, we adopted a new code of ethics, and the final portion of that code deals with accountability and the idea that news institutions need to open themselves and to make their news gathering and their decision-making processes more open to the public so the public can understand why we do some of the things we do. And I really hope that will be the outcome here.

KING: Roger Cossack, as an attorney and our legal expert, do you have a thought on what that circuit court is going to rule tomorrow and what the federal court might rule in Atlanta?

COSSACK: Well, Larry, the easier question for me is the federal court. I would predict -- and you know, I've done a lot of shows with you, and inevitably I'm wrong, but I think this time I'm right. I would predict that the federal court in Atlanta is going to stay out of it. I think this is a Florida state decision, constitutionally and every other way. The government has always said that the states will take care of their own elections. I think this is a Florida decision.

Now, it's a tougher question as to what's going to happen with the judge as to whether or not he is going to allow these later votes to be counted. The issue really turns around whether or not he believes Katherine Harris abused her discretion in just saying there will be no later counts.

It is a tough issue. It is law layered with politics, which, as a lawyer, I can tell you is the worst kind of fact situation you can find, because you -- you end up serving two masters and it's almost an impossible situation. So if you allow me, I'll beg off of a guess on that one.

KING: Is this true, whatever decision he makes will go to the Florida Supreme Court on appeal?

COSSACK: Yes, that's right. This case will end up in the Florida Supreme Court and perhaps even in the United States Supreme Court, although I would hope and I'm sure everyone else will that once the Florida Supreme Court speaks, that that will be the end of it.

KING: Are we going to have a president on December 16th?

COSSACK: Yes, we will have a president on December 16th -- I will go that far -- because I believe that the Florida Supreme Court will eventually and quickly make a decision which will either one way or the other allow these votes to come in or not. I believe the hand counts then will be counted, and I think that we will know, and we will end this really difficult situation where you have one candidate winning the popular vote and then a toss-up in the electoral college.

KING: Bob, we have an amazing news story today. We have a president in Vietnam.


KING: Seen any coverage? We see one minute landings at the airport.

WOODWARD: That's right. It was thought that there was going to be a little bit of a vacuum after we elected Clinton's successor, and so he could go to Vietnam in kind of the final step of reconciliation.

If I could just address what Roger is saying about the courts and...

KING: All right, quickly, yes.

WOODWARD: I mean, I'm not so sure the courts are going to solve this because there isn't that much time and there always seems to be another appeal. This really is in the hands of George Bush and Al Gore, and at one point or another, one of them is going to have to step up, and say, I'm going back to the ranch or the farm or Tennessee or wherever.

KING: Thank you all very much. Good seeing you again, Barbara. Barbara Cochran, Roger Cossack, and Bob Woodward. When we come back, two female talk-show hosts who listen to the buzz of America. Joan Rivers and Janet Parshall will tell us what they're hearing, right after this.


KING: Now joining us, two of the premier talk-show hosts in America. Joan Rivers joins us from New York. Her program is heard on WOR every night 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. She's also going to be on QVC this weekend with her whole line of Christmas jewelry. We look forward to that. And Joan looks terrific tonight, as does Janet Parshall. Janet is in -- Joan is in Greensboro, North Carolina. She hosts "Janet Parshall's America," a three-hour nationally syndicated show.

We may know of their own opinions, and we'll certainly tough on that. But let's ask -- start with Joan Rivers, what is your audience saying about all this?

JOAN RIVERS, RADIO TALK-SHOW HOST: I think they're thrilled with the democratic process, truly, I think. And of course, they're sitting back, they're wondering when it's going to end and who's going to win. I mean, the whole country is feeling the same way. But I think everyone has also learned a great lesson in civics, and that's wonderful.

KING: Janet, what are they saying in your bailiwick?

JANET PARSHALL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I have to tell you Representative Tauzin hit the nail on the head when he said there's a lot of emotion out there and talk radio has a way of letting people vent their emotions.

Larry, there's a movie opening this weekend called "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," and some of my listeners are wondering if there are some grinches afoot that might steal an election, and they're real concerned about that. But there's another movie that's out "Called Men of Honor," and when it's all said and done we're wondering if one of these two gentlemen, or both of them perhaps, might be men of honor.

But I'm thinking of Yogi Berra. In the midst of all of this, it's deja vu all over again. The rule of law is once again in the dock, and we're wondering whether or not we really do subscribe to a Constitution.

KING: Well, if it's the rule of law, do you agree, Janet, it'll have to be decided by the courts? That's where the law is decided.

PARSHALL: The law is decided, but you know, every time I hear someone in the Gore camp talk about the will of the people, I scratch my head in bewilderment, because the will of the people was manifest in the election of Katherine Harris as the secretary of state, and in statutory law in Florida that says...


RIVERS: Yes, but Katherine Harris is way above her head.

PARSHALL: ... 10 days out at 5 o'clock you have...


RIVERS: Katherine Harris is so above her head. She's secretary of state of Florida.

KING: We're now into the bias of the hosts.


But she was elected, Joan.

RIVERS: She was elected, but (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to give old people enemas. I mean, they're all so out of their depths down there. You know that.

KING: They're all what?

RIVERS: Out of their depths. I think no one in Florida ever expected this to happen. It's -- you know, Florida was old Jews and hookers. I mean, that's what Florida is.

KING: Janet, you will agree that your opinions reflect -- generally callers reflect the views of the host. You're a conservative, so callers will be anti-Gore. Joan is more liberal; her callers will be anti-Bush.

PARSHALL: That's true. RIVERS: I'm...

KING: Do you get any -- is there any balance here? I mean, obviously the country is directly equally divided.

PARSHALL: Right, and Larry, that's exactly the prognosis for the country right now. I think that both Joan and I probably sense from our listeners a sense that we are standing on a precipice right now. We are on the verge of splitting ourselves from stem to stern.

So, I went back into the history books and thought, what an opportunity for us to go back to something Abraham Lincoln said, all of us, it's about now much more than just a president. It's about who we are as a people, what we believe in and how we get along. So maybe, Lincoln was right when he talked about going to the better angels of our nature. When this is all said and done, how do we, the people, go forward? That's going to be a big challenge for us.

RIVERS: First of all, the choice that we were given as we, the people -- Marilyn Monroe would not have slept with either one of those guys. That's No. 1. No. 2...

KING: I know, Janet, she drives you crazy.

RIVERS: I love Janet because Janet is serious and I love that. But I think it's a win-win. If Gore -- truly, Larry, it's a great country. We're going to go on. If Gore wins, we've got pro-choice and a terrific Supreme Court we know will continue to be terrific. And if Bush wins, it's fabulous. It will ruin Barbra Streisand's life and Alec Baldwin leaves the country. I mean, either way, we celebrate.

KING: It's a win-win. We will be back with some more moments with Joan Rivers and Janet Parshall right after these words.


KING: Janet, Joan Rivers has a lot of faith that this country will go on pretty well. Do you think it will?

PARSHALL: Well, I think we are going to walk away with some bruising, Larry. I think if we are going to be really transparent with one another, we are hurting as a people because it speaks to the great divide that is in this country. And it speaks to something bigger than that, bigger than all of us, and is whether there is such a thing as absolute truth or whether or not situational ethics rules the day, and whether or not we look at our kids and our grandkids and we say any means whatsoever is justifiable as long as it gets us the end that we want. There's a profound tutorial there and I hope we all come out of this with an A plus in the class.

KING: Do you agree, though, if Bush had been ahead in the popular vote your opinion might be different, if the reverses were turned?

PARSHALL: You know, it's interesting. Every time again I hear this Gore won the popular vote. You know, I go back to my civics lessons. You don't elect a president predicated on the popular vote.

KING: No, but I mean, that wasn't the question. The question was, if Bush had won the popular vote, if Bush were in Gore's position now and Gore was in Bush's position, both of you would be on opposite sides of where you are now. It's safe to say because you're partisans. Partisans don't change. Come on, Janet, just say it, yes. If we were on reverse sides, I'd be on the other side.

PARSHALL: You know what? The wonderful thing about being a talk show host is, unlike your august panel before us, we don't have to objectively wink, wink, nudge, nudge, report the news. We're opinion makers. Exactly, we are opinion makers and we listen to people and we move it along.

But again, the difference between Gore and Bush, Larry, on the popular vote is razor, razor, razor thin.

KING: So is the difference in Florida, razor, razor, razor thin.

PARSHALL: Yes, well, it depends in Florida, I think, how many you want to count those razor-thin differences.

KING: As many as you count them, it's down to 300 votes.

Janet, just say if the sides were reversed, I'd be other side.


KING: It would be nice to hear it. In other words, you're saying, that if Al Gore was ahead by 300 votes in Florida and Bush was ahead in the popular vote you would be urging your listeners to go with Gore for president?

PARSHALL: I'd have to Larry, because, OK, look, long after Al Gore and George W. Bush and you and me are the stuff for worms to eat, there's still going to be a Constitution and still there's going to be a process here and it has got to outlive us. So, yes, I would be saying, Al Gore, best wishes.

KING: And Joan, would you be saying the reverse?

RIVERS: I'm saying right now, this is probably wonderful, what's finally happened. We have finally stopped and said we have to stop the corruption. This is a whole history that Daley can stand up there and say, we want honesty, when his father gave the election to Kennedy. It's wonderful what's happening to this country in a sense. We are now learning we need better voting booths, we need better candidates.

I mean, Gore comes from a political family so he has been taught to lie from the beginning. And Bush, thank God, has two more weeks. He can be home-schooled. I mean, these are terrible, terrible candidates. Thank God we are learning from this, which is every vote counts. What a wonderful thing this country has learned.

KING: Yes, do you think it is a good civics lesson, Janet? Do you think we have learned a lot about government?

PARSHALL: I do, and let me pick up on what Joan observed, because I agree with her. One of the big lessons out of all of this is that every vote does count.

But one of our jobs as the influencers, as people who move opinions vis-a-vis talk radio, is to say to people, look, the propensity here is to get discouraged and say it's all corruption. That's why people have felt disenfranchised, to use the operative word of the day, so often with politics. They think it's an insiders game.

Our job is going to have to be to say to people, look, it's not perfect but it is better than any other system out there. Stay involved. If you don't like the results this time, wait four years, you'll like them next time.

RIVERS: And for God's sake make sure your chads don't hang. I beg you.

KING: Whatever happened to the old machines where you just pull the lever and you couldn't vote for two people who are running for the same office because the levers would reject it? What happened to that?

PARSHALL: And Larry, why do I think that when Joan's grandbaby, her grandson, comes into the world, his name will not be Chad.

RIVERS: No, his name will not be Chad.

KING: Thank you both very much.

Joan Rivers of WOR Radio in New York and Janet Parshall, the host of "Janet Parshall's America," two tough dames. Good to have them with us.

On that note we will leave you. Stay tuned now, they are back, Bernie, Judy, Jeff and Bill working overtime as we all are through all of this.

We will be back with an hour special looking at Florida today and then "THE SPIN ROOM" joins us. We are back tomorrow night with Bob Woodward and a whole bunch of others. Woodward returns. And again, we're with you Saturday night, live this Saturday as well.

Thanks very much for joining us, for all of our guests and our entire crew, good night.



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