"For those who govern, the first thing required is
indifference to newspapers."
The sudden death of our book deal, we reasoned, was the
first sure sign that our efforts and instigations had made waves outside the
The fourteen months between April 23,
1971, when we sent the telegram to President Nixon, and June 17, 1972, when
President Nixon's "plumbers" were captured in the Watergate, was a
period in Miami when a good deal of noise was made about the vote fraud
The first above-ground story about
rigged elections in Miami appeared on August 29, 1971 in the Miami Beach
Reporter under the byline of its old and respected editor-publisher,
Paul M. Bruun.
Bruun was the last independent editor
in Dade County. He didn't owe much to anybody. His word was respected and his
opinion carried weight among both Jews and Gentiles on Miami Beach. He was
tall, elegant, in his seventies, a man with snowy white hair and moustache. He
flourished a cane, had a rich, deep, rumbling voice, and a big Basset hound
named Caesar led him about on a leash. He was a world-class gossip and a bon
vivant. Most important, he was wealthy and hard to corrupt. His column
titled "Bruun Over Miami" was famous among the postwar settlers,
especially on the Beach.
We ghostwrote "The Great Dade
Election Rig Continues" story for him as a factual account of the voting
controversy based on the Channel 7 computer readouts. He told us that he would
put his byline on the story only if his own independent checking verified every
fact and allegation.
As a hedge against libel suits, Bruun
sent a copy of the story to all whose names were mentioned. He advised them
that they could "exercise veto power over the story" if they could
demonstrate a fault in its factual underpinning. When no objections were
raised, the following story appeared in the Reporter beneath a headline
VOTE-FORECASTING MYSTERY — AND SOME QUESTIONS...
by Paul M. Bruun,
For months I have hoped that some,
whom I am willing to admit know far more about such electronic computations
than I do, would answer some very pertinent questions.
Nothing has been printed or broadcast
by anybody which in any manner answered any of the questions that have been
really bugging me. Read this carefully and see whether you agree there are many
that bother you.
Though this is basically a story about
Channels 4 and 7, I have sought in vain to find out exactly why television
station WPLG, Channel 10, did not broadcast this all-important election, though
I understand that elaborate plans had been made by the Post-Newsweek
subsidiary to do so. What happened that two out of three supposedly competing
TV news departments had the broadcasting of projected election results all to
In all fairness, I sent a copy of this
story to Channels 4, 7 and 10, to the Miami News, to the Miami
Herald, to Professors Beiler, Shipley and Wood of the University of
Miami Political Science Department with a copy to U. M. President, Dr. Henry
In my vault I have the material from
which this story was written. I think it is news. The daily press in Miami
obviously doesn't think this is news. Why? Here goes, with all the facts that I
The story then went on to recount
the election night TV coverage on Channels 4 and 7 featuring the
"miracle" projections. It asked the question:
"Was the election
Bruun also interviewed Dr. Beiler,
"Oh, let's say even at this point
I've had very little experience with computers. You see, what I've always done
is simply write the specifications and the programmer programs."
When Bruun questioned the
computer-programmer employed by Channel 7 to provide computerized
"projections based on results phoned in from so-called sample
precincts" he was told:
"...ask Dr. Beiler about it. I
only put in those machines whatever he tells me."
Paul Bruun expressed his amazement
in the article which continues:
"So here we have the two men
responsible for the odds-defying feat of projecting with near-perfect accuracy
the detailed outcome of a lengthy election ballot on the basis of phoned-in
unofficial returns from the solitary voting machine — and yet each man
denies any detailed knowledge of how it was done.
"Radio station WKAT revealed that
an investigation is now underway, conducted by one of the losing candidates, to
determine if the election itself could have been rigged "by a Dade County
Machine in absolute control of local establishment mass media." The U.S.
Justice Department has been engaged in accepting information pertinent to this
case through the Miami field office of the FBI.
"Martin Braterman, Dade County
elections supervisor at the time of the election, resigned in November 1970
after serving for five years. His resignation came just after Dr. Beiler
provided our investigations with the Channel 7 computer read-outs. Braterman
told this newspaper's publisher: 'Whatever happens at the TV stations on
election night has nothing to do with the results of the election. How could
Following are some examples of the
amazing accuracy of the 7:24 p.m. projections.
||TOTAL VOTES CAST
The Big Three television stations are
network affiliates of ABC, CBS and NBC. The ownership of Channels 4 and 7 has
been based in Dade County since the advent of television in 1949.
Washington-based Post-Newsweek has owned and operated Channel 10 (whose
call-letters WPLG stand for the late Phillip L. Graham, husband of Katharine
Graham of the Washington Post communications empire) for less than two
Both Miami-based stations televised
continuous coverage from the moment the polls dosed. But Washington
Post-controlled Channel 10, WPLG, suddenly cancelled elaborately planned
coverage which was to have featured the polling techniques of Irwin Premack
Associates, a Tampa firm which had been paid $27,000 to provide commentary. At
the last minute WPLG's rented computer at its location in the First National
Bank Building "broke down," according to WPLG news director Carl
Zedell. A movie was run instead. The so-called "blackout" on reports
to the public of ACTUAL OFFICIAL VOTES from the Dade County Courthouse is
evidenced by two documented facts:
1. The computer read-outs used as the
on-air script for Dr. Beiler at Channel 7 show that no actual votes had been
received by the station until 11:15 p.m., four hours and fifteen minutes after
the beginning of televised election coverage.
2. After the supposed computer
breakdown, newscasters Ralph Renick, V.P. News Department, Channel 4 and George
Crolius, of Channel 7, repeatedly told the public they would use a high-speed
computer analysis to project the outcome based on returns from phoned-in sample
precincts. The "condition" of the Dade County computer, however, was
at all times contrary to what the public was being told by TV
According to an official press release
from Dade data processing chief Leonard White, "The county computer at
the courthouse was never down and it was never slow."
Professor Tom Wood, Beiler's associate
on Channel 7 election analysis offered the Reporter this comment:
"It looks like we hit the lucky machine. I guess it was right in the
middle of things."
This newspaper challenges both Miami
TV stations (4 and 7) and/or the political science professors at the University
of Miami to demonstrate the manner in which all of the foregoing was
And where exactly is the single voting
machine which served as bellwether for the balance of 1,647 voting machines
active that night?
Are we to seriously believe that any
relative handful of votes can be "projected" to be
"typical" of us all? Would the people who voted on that single
machine be Black, White, Hispanic, Jewish, Italian, Irish, Blue collar,
White-collar, Upper-Middle-Lower class models of the way an entire county
thinks? Or is the existence of that mystery voting machine a myth?
If, as seems indicated by the
foregoing, the election should turn out to have been rigged, then this story
will be a catalyst in bringing about its ultimate exposure."
Paul was the kind of man who chortled about stories like
this. He knew damned well how uncomfortable he was going to make some very
pretentious people, and he loved it. They might be able to say that Jim and Ken
Collier were something near to crackpots, or dangerous, or full of
misinformation, but they did not dare to say that about Paul Bruun, who was the
elder statesman, whose paper was second echelon but who could rake them over
some very hot coals if he wanted it to.
Paul Bruun was not about to back off
any issue he agreed to start, and any press person worth a quarter knew it. So
the immediate letters of denial were pained and defensive, but not
Here is Channel 7's
Dear Me Bruun:
I wish to acknowledge receipt of your
letter of August 13, 1971, with a draft of the story that you plan to publish
on Sunday August 29.
It appears to me that your primary
contention is that by 7:24 p.m. on September 8, 1970, the local television
stations accurately projected all races based "solely on the returns from
one solitary voting machine."
I wish to assure you that the premise
is untrue and preposterous.
Further, the implication of wrong
doing and conspiracy is ridiculous.
Edmund N. Ansin,
Executive Vice President and General Manager
Sunbeam Television Corporation Channel 7
I am happy you have given us the
opportunity to comment on the story you planned to run in the Reporter
concerning election coverage by the Miami TV stations. From my own knowledge, I
know a great deal of the information which has been given to you on this
subject is incorrect and I want to put forth the facts as I know them for you
to be able to make a responsible journalistic judgement.
... The implication that there was
collaboration between the two stations in the projecting of results and the
"withholding" of actual information is completely erroneous. I think
you know, Paul, that the various Miami TV operations are, on the contrary quite
... There is no secrecy with respect
to the readouts which our computer produced during the course of the evening or
such data which we have retained concerning the actual information transferred
from the Courthouse. You are welcome to look at this material, although
anyone not familiar with computers would need some substantial interpretation
to understand the data. (Emphasis added.)
... This station does not claim to
have projected perfect percentages on each candidate in every race by 7:04
p.m.; in fact, in several of the races we were unable to "call" a
winner by the end of our election coverage because our projections showed the
races to be too close to declare one man definitely the winner.
... It is clear that computers
employed by television stations do not decide on an election. They merely
provide a means by which actual votes cast in selected representative precincts
may be projected in order to give an estimate of the winner. The winning
candidate obviously is decided by the voter at the ballot box.
... Ralph Renick (v.p. News) and I
will be pleased to go over this matter with you in person. The story as
presently written, at least as pertains to this station, contains a great deal
of erroneous information and presents a totally misleading picture of the
procedures which we employ in reporting election results.
... Being in the news business
ourselves, we realize that it is sometimes difficult to track down the true
facts; I hope that the information I have outlined above goes some distance in
providing you with the data concerning the tight standards of WTVJ
... We are quite proud of the
competence which we have developed in the projection of election results
through the utilization of sample precincts and we have no desire to hide from
you or anyone else the care with which we program our computers to achieve
reliable estimates at the earliest moment.
WR. Brazzil, V.P. in Charge
WTVJ Channel 4
Next, one of the University of
Miami professors who appeared on Channel 7 the night of the
Dear Mr. Bruun:
Thank you for your recent letter
enclosing a copy of the story you propose to publish. To my mind, there is no
need to comment on a tale so preposterous.
Dr. Thomas J. Wood
Department of Politics and Public Affairs
University of Miami
Also, a letter from the editor of
the Miami News.
I am interested largely by the
accuracy of the computer... The votes had already been cast and the election
decided before the computer results were broadcast. While the accuracy of the
projections was amazing, I do not see what effect they had on the outcome of
the elections. Nor do I see what the stations have to gain with anything other
than accuracy. If indeed, they used only one voting machine to make the
projections, the risk of being wrong was theirs.
I do not know of a "Dade County
Machine" in absolute control of local mass media. Nobody is in control of
me. I don't see any evidence that anybody but you is in control of you.
Editor, The Miami News
Finally, a letter from
the chief executive of the University of Miami.
Your note and a copy of the article
regarding those voting machine projections arrived yesterday I simply have not
had time to read it carefully enough to comment. I will look it over within the
next few days and let you have my comments, if any. I have great confidence in
Henry King Stanford
U. of M. President
We needed more answers to questions like: How was the
fraud accomplished in the field where votes were tallied by 4,000 precinct
officials countywide? Who was in a position to do it? How many people would
have had to be in on the scheme? Why would any plotters go to the trouble? What
part, if any, did the League of Women Voters play?
"We've got to keep up the
pressure," Jim kept repeating.
And we did.
On September 24, 1971, the University of Miami student
newspaper, The Hurricane, chose an eye-opening headline to debut its
version of the story:
IMPLICATED IN LOCAL ELECTION RIGGING
We were pleased with the pugnacious
tone of the headline, though purists suggested it was libelous. The
Hurricane's editor-in-chief, Scott Bressler, stood by the story and
wrote the following editorial that accompanied it:
QUESTIONS MUST HAVE ANSWERS
The alleged rigging of last year's
Dade County election as presented by the Miami Beach Reporter... has
been written off by most as totally absurd. Indeed the charges leveled are
fantastic by any stretch of the imagination. Charges of countywide election
fraud sound like they belong in a Humphrey Bogart movie. The only catch,
however, is that too many questions have been left unanswered.
One voting machine (out of 1,648) was
used to accurately project the entire election involving some 40 races and more
than 250 candidates. Which machine was it?
What was the formula used by the TV
stations to accurately project the entire election at 7:24 p.m. before any
official votes had been reported?
Why were there no actual votes
reported until 11:15? Some say the computer broke down. Others say it didn't.
What is the correct answer?
Why have the three television stations
and the Miami Herald and the Miami News completely ignored this
story? They may claim that it's not true, but can they deny its news
We feel that these questions must be
answered. The Hurricane certainly does not feel that three of its
professors were involved in an election fraud but we do feel the necessity to
find the answers and restore the public's faith in Dade County's electoral
Within a week, on October 1, 1971, The Hurricane revived the
issue once again by printing a Letter to the Editor from Miami News
editor Sylvan Meyer, who steadfastly refused to use his own columns in Miami's
second largest daily to air the controversy he was helping to create.
NEWS EDITOR COMMENTS
ON ELECTION STORY
To the Editor:
Permit me to make a few comments about
your news story and editorial.
I concede the vote projection was
remarkably accurate. Unfortunately, computers are reflecting this sort of
accuracy all over the country. The question of computer projections is not a
new one and has been the subject of national debate for several years.
There is no way to prevent people from
projecting, by guess or by computer, the results of elections and I am not sure
I would try to prevent them from doing so if it were within my power.
The Miami News did not run a
story when shown this material because we do not feel it is a story. It was an
issue originally raised by the Collier brothers, two men I would not trust
under any circumstances. They have their own political thing and that's okay,
but their information in this matter is not news, it is a "so
I do not believe the story to be true,
in that it certainly does not establish either a motive nor a result
contrary to the public interest. (Emphasis added.) I do not believe it has
news value because it is entirely speculative and maligns the reputation of
otherwise honorable men without cause and without justification.
Your editorial implies that there has
been a loss of faith in the integrity of Dade County's electoral process. If
this is true, I am not aware of it and I certainly do not believe that the
information gathered by Paul Bruun, the Colliers, et al, has resulted in such a
loss of faith.
On October 29, 1971, Bressler
INVESTIGATE ALLEGED DADE ELECTION RIGGING
The story of an alleged election
rigging involving three UM professors will be investigated by the Concerned
Democrats, a coalition of liberal groups in Dade County and statewide. The
group, after listening to the evidence presented by one of its own members in a
closed-door session last Tuesday night, voted to go ahead with the
Presentation of pertinent evidence in
the case was made by Alvin Entin, a lawyer in the Miami area, who told the
Hurricane, "I'm not saying that any of the charges are true, but
there was found to be enough probable cause to look into it further. From what
we've seen there are questions which have to be answered. A lot of people are
saying the Colliers are crazy, but you cannot dismiss the evidence just by
Why won't Dr. Beiler clear this up or
tell us anything? If he did, I would be willing to believe him since I don't
think he's crazy.
The Concerned Democrats plan to send
letters to the three professors, the three TV networks, the two Miami daily
newspapers and the local TV news departments to help get to the bottom of this.
"We have a responsibility to look into this. Personally, I'm scared to
death. I believe in the system and all I can say is. God forbid that this is
true," Entin said.
In October, this letter appeared in
BEILER SCOLDS 'CANE
EDITOR FOR IRRESPONSIBILITY
To the Editor:
To determine whether election results
are real or fraudulent is fairly easy. Some 340 precincts returned reports
called Canvass Sheets signed by at least ten election officials in each
precinct. These and the physical counting-wheels in the voting machines
themselves which were available for re-checking within a certain time period
prescribed by law, constitute the guarantee that any dishonesty would have to
be at the individual polling places themselves. Do you honestly believe that
3,400 election officials were in on the so-called "rigging"?
I am amazed at your ignorance and your
lack of investigating enterprise when faced with the products of totally
irresponsible journalism. You merely copy it. You are fully as bad at The
Planet and the Reporter. You should learn now, so that you do not
get sued if you ever go into journalism on a responsible paper or
Of course, I have no interest in
"laying to rest" such hare-brained "journalism," which
condemns itself on its face. The Colliers wasted a great deal of my time with
this nonsense. I am certainly not going to let you do the same. As little as I
think of your behavior in this matter, I don't think you have their problem.
Ross C. Beiler
On November 11, 1971, The Daily
Planet, Miami's underground newspaper, ran the following treatment by
editor Buzz Kilman:
THE SILENT PRESS
(THE ELECTION NOBODY EVER HEARD OF...)
When is a story not a story?
Several weeks ago the Miami Beach
Reporter broke with a story that the 1970 Dade County election was
Maybe, but a lot of impossible things
happened on the night of September 8, 1970 that either have not or cannot be
explained by those who accomplished them.
Since Publisher Bruun printed the
story in the Reporter, The Daily Planet, the South Miami News,
the Hialeah Home News and the UM Hurricane have run
Throughout the local media uproar, not
a word of the mess has been printed in Miami's two dailys, the News and
As time goes on, this question becomes
almost as interesting as the original charge that the elections were rigged.
Although both of Miami's dailies have privately dismissed the notion that an
election rigging took place, they have failed to explain, privately or in their
own newspapers, why they are ignoring what is obviously an outrageously
The Colliers devoutly believe that
some sort of conspiracy was culminated on the evening of September 8, 1970
— and this is a line of thought too overwhelming for even the most
enthusiastic reporter... and yet, it's not inconceivable as it wouldn't be the
first election to be rigged.
Privately, however, the Colliers'
obsession has been considered more carefully — and has been the object of
much off-the-record discussion among area newsmen. I have personally talked
with several, among them Bill Byer of Channel 10, the Post-Newsweek
subsidiary, and Pat Murphy, editor of the Coral Gables Times, a
Herald-owned newspaper, who have expressed at least a degree of
bewilderment on the subject, although they have not been moved to inquire
further. In a telephone conversation, Byer termed the issue "serious"
and added that it was — and I quote — "a sick, sad, sorry
Every newsperson in the city and
probably the state knows about the charges. A great many of them, responsible,
establishment reporters, have expressed to me concern over the implications for
future elections if computers and the media ever do take over the election
system. The most chilling aspect of the entire affair is the ominous and
unexplainable silence of the Establishment media in the face of undeniable
controversy. What is so special about this case?
And that was that.
It wasn't as if the press was entirely a pussycat then.
In 1971 there was a maelstrom of "investigative reporting" going on
all over the country, to the extent that one investigation (with many dubious
and unanswered motives) eventually resulted in the resignation of Richard Nixon
and a new balance of power between the government and the press. To recall
In the autumn of 1971 President Nixon
was enraged by Daniel Ellsberg's activities in the "Pentagon Papers"
To Nixon, the fact that Ellsberg, a
low-level, very wealthy civilian in the Defense Department, turned over
Pentagon secrets to The New York Times and The Washington Post
was deeply disturbing: unpatriotic, perhaps traitorous. Worse, was the US.
Supreme Court's refusal to issue a restraining order preventing the Ellsberg
information from becoming public.
The primary revelation Nixon felt
ought to be kept secret was the material that proved the "Gulf of
Tonkin" incident was a total ruse concocted by the Executive Branch to
stampede the U.S. Congress into voting the President unrestricted war powers in
Apparently, the 1964 naval encounter
in the Gulf of Tonkin, where a U.S. cruiser was supposedly fired on by North
Vietnamese boats, simply never occurred.
Championing Ellsberg, however, was
Nixon's harshest critic, Katharine Graham, publisher of The Washington
Post, whose First Amendment rights to publish the information were
upheld by the high court. Smarting from the Ellsberg case, Nixon, through his
Attorney General, John Mitchell, started investigating Mrs. Graham and all her
holdings in an effort to find evidence that could jeopardize her empire,
including her newly-acquired FCC license for television station WPLG, Miami.
WPLG was purchased in 1969 for $20 million. (By 1989 it was estimated to be
worth just under $900 million).
In the heirarchy [sic] of Miami's press barons,
"Kate" Graham was a queen and her family held imperial power in
Florida, as well as in and around Washington. Her brother-in-law, Robert, was
elected to the Florida legislature on September 8, 1970. He went on to serve
two elected terms as Florida governor and then rose to fill a US. Senate
Whenever the media leaders of Miami
called a conference, Mrs. Graham would chair the function. Such meetings took
place at the University of Miami. Channel 7 was owned by the university itself.
Channel 4 was owned by Wometco Enterprises, an entertainment and vending
When Katharine Graham took her place
at the head of the conference table, she was flanked by Miami Herald
lawyer Dan Paul and UM president Henry King Stanford. Further along the table
in a prescribed order of rank were the president of the local chapter of the
League of Women Voters (LWV); .the Dade County Manager; the chief circuit court
judge; the liaison from the Chamber of Commerce; assorted lawyers representing
Channels 4 and 7.
Mrs. Graham, as she was to prove
during the Watergate revelations of the Washington Post, had the balls
of a Picasso goat. If she had to take on Richard Nixon to get his attention and
respect, she would risk her realm to do it. In the Miami area, her power over
the press and politicians was unchallenged.
Freedom of the press was a battle cry
at the time, and Richard Nixon was on one side and Mrs. Graham and occasionally
the Sulzbergers of the New York Times were on the other.
That was the political atmosphere we
were operating in, and it seemed that most things were possible and that
corruption was being rooted out by crusading, gutsy publishers and editors even
at the highest levels.
Then why we wondered, was vote fraud
such a special case?
In a private conversation with Jim, Henry King Stanford,
the University of Miami's president, gave his perspective on the
"It's such an explosive
issue," he said, "that your proof must be incontrovertable [sic].
Frankly, there are holes in the story that you've got to close before you can
demand that the big papers take you seriously If you don't come up with a
plausible way to explain how 4,000 poll workers' signatures could be
circumvented in such a conspiracy, then your theory will die of its own
That was a tall, tall order and we
knew he was right. But how the hell could we go about explaining those
thousands of corroborating signatures?
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