By: Dave Astor
The Chicago Tribune published a letter by syndicated columnist Robert Koehler that gave him a chance to respond to Tribune Public Editor Don Wycliff on the subject of whether the 2004 president election might have been stolen.
Wycliff had written an April 28 column criticizing an April 14 piece by Koehler that addressed possible voting irregularities in the 2004 election. Wycliff basically said “conspiracy theorists” need to accept that George W. Bush won. Koehler — a Tribune Media Services columnist as well as TMS editor — responded to Wycliff in a May 5 column. But TMS asked Koehler to do a substitute column after saying the original piece wasn’t appropriate for national distribution because it referred to a column (Wycliff’s) readers outside the Chicago area may not have seen (E&P Online, May 5). The substitute column also had a 2004-election theme.
Koehler stated in his letter — which ran Monday in the Chicago Tribune and which BradBlog.com linked to yesterday afternoon — that the Tribune “has done a lot of tough, courageous investigative work over the years.” So, he added, “my disappointment at its lack of coverage of the well-documented irregularities in the 2000 and 2004 elections, and its unconcern about the security of future elections, is profound indeed. This disappointment turned into active dismay after public editor Don Wycliff chose to write a column … dismissing the concerns of a substantial number of readers who had e-mailed the Tribune recommending it publish a column I had written [the April 14th one] discussing those irregularities and reporting on a national election-reform conference in Nashville last month.” Koehler’s letter also contained several other paragraphs.
In his April 14 column, Koehler had discussed various questions he thought about after attending the election-reform conference. He asked why “the lines were so long and the voting machines so few” in many Democratic precincts, why “many otherwise Democratic ballots … recorded no vote for president,” why “virtually every voter complaint about electronic voting machine malfunction indicated an unauthorized vote switch from Kerry to Bush,” and why the exit polls indicating Kerry would win “went haywire.” Koehler also asked why America’s media hasn’t investigated this more, and quoted a conference speaker as saying: “When the autopsy of our democracy is performed, it is my belief that media silence will be given as the primary cause of death.” Koehler repeated that quote at the end of his May 16 letter to the Tribune.
Wycliff wrote April 28 that one way of describing the Nashville meeting would be “a convocation of conspiracy theorists, unable to come to terms with the fact that their guy lost and that, as in sports, it’s not the pregame prognostication and expert opinions that count, but the numbers on the scoreboard after the contest has actually been played.” Wycliff also cited reports indicating that there weren’t significant voting irregularities in Ohio last fall.