Recounts underway in two Florida races


According to election officials, Broward and Palm Beach Counties are at the center of an election recount once again.

Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, leads the Democratic incumbent Senator, Bill Nelson by 0.2 percentage points, triggering a hand recount, per Florida law.

Scott’s campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee filed two lawsuits on Thursday, one against the Broward County supervisor of elections, Brenda Snipes, and the other against the supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County, Susan Bucher.

The lawsuits allege that those supervisors have not been transparent about the collection of the vote and the vote count, in violation of Florida law.

The race for Florida governor is not quite as close, but with the margin between Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum being 0.5 percentage points, that triggers a machine recount.

Most, if not all news outlets have projected DeSantis, the former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, victorious over Gillum, the current Tallahassee mayor.

Many outlets are already leaving Election Day in the dust, with little coverage on these races after Democrats seized control of the House, while Republicans kept the majority in the Senate, throwing a wrench in Donald Trump’s legislative agenda for the latter half of his first term.

Synagogue suspect pleads not guilty


Robert Bowers, the man accused of murdering 11 people in a hate-fueled massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last Saturday entered a plea of not guilty in a federal courtroom Thursday.

“The possible penalties,” he was informed by Troy Rivetti, one of the prosecutors, “are first a sentence of death.” Bowers did not flinch. Other than death, possible outcomes are a variety of prison sentences from 10 years to life, connected to the 44 counts with which he is charged.

Those charges vary from hate crimes to using a firearm to commit murder in a crime of violence.

It is somewhat surprising how many other stories within the news are taking precedence over this, the deadliest anti-Semitic event in the U.S. since World War II.

Although the general election is under a week away, this is the major news story of the week, and most outlets are analyzing ads and Trump’s tweets over the impacts within and outside of the Steel City.

Bowers’ lawyer, Michael Novara, a federal public defender, requested a jury trial, which prosecutors estimated could take three to four weeks, or even longer if U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions certified it to indeed be a capital case.

Florida man arrested in mail bombs case


The arrest came after authorities responded to two more devices on Friday — one in Florida, the other in New York — pushing the total number of packages found by law enforcement officials to 12. None have detonated, but all have put leaders on high alert as they worried about additional devices being delivered and potentially going off.

The coverage on this story has been top notch by all outlets, from the breaking story of the first package sent earlier this week all the way to finding the individual responsible late Friday morning.

Authorities haven’t yet released his name or any sort of motive as officials are continuing to work around the clock to iron out details and piece all of the story together.

All of the bomber’s targets have opposed piercingly with Trump at different times, and this news of dangerous packages popping up around the country aggravated the already full-throated political fights under two weeks before congressional elections.

Trump condemned the bombs on Wednesday before going on to blame the news media for the anger seen in American society.

He has also ruffled at commentators who have highlighted his rhetoric when discussing the explosive devices, tweeting shortly after 3 a.m. on Friday that CNN was “blaming me for the current spate of bombs.”

Michael coverage best of recent memory


Since Michael just became a tropical disturbance in the Western Caribbean a little more than a week ago, the news media as a whole did an incredibly good job covering the track of Michael from the Yucatan to the Florida Peninsula.

Although it did take most outlets a little longer than it should’ve to take notice of the potential track of the storm and a possible landfall on the U.S. mainland, coverage from Sunday through Thursday was spot on in providing clear and accurate information.

The storm is now making its way toward the Atlantic Ocean Friday as during its transition to a post-tropical cyclone with winds gusting at 65 m.p.h., according to the National Hurricane Center.

More than half a million customers in Virginia are without power.

Another million customers were without power across Maryland, Georgia, Alabama, the Carolinas and Florida, where the storm first made landfall and flattened some coastal  communities in the Panhandle.

Hardest hit were Panama City Beach and Mexico Beach, where both sides of the eye wall came ashore.

The official death toll is up to 11 persons now, but it is almost assuredly going to rise once officials reach the hardest hit areas near the Florida Gulf Coast.

Kavanaugh coverage impartial, eager


With the first round of voting expected Friday for the potential confirmation for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, news media coverage has been rather objective and very much anxious to see what will unfold on Capitol Hill.

In the meantime, Kavanaugh penned an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal on Thursday criticizing what he described as “vicious” attacks against him while admitting he “might have been too emotional” during his hearing on Capitol Hill last week.

Of course, it didn’t take long for the news media to jump on this breaking story.

CNN’s headline read: “Kavanaugh writes op-ed arguing he is an ‘independent, impartial judge’ after emotional testimony”

While Fox News’s headline read: “Kavanaugh, in op-ed, decries ‘vicious’ attacks while saying he ‘might have been too emotional’ at hearing'”

To the naked eye, it seems both were written without much subjectivity to the subject matter, even though both are known for favoring one side of the scale over the other.

Once the U.S. Senate meets tomorrow in Washington, news outlets are sure to jump on the voting results as soon as humanly possible.

Viewers decide about hearing news


After the dust has settled from Thursday’s bouts of interrogation and questioning by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to both Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, how did certain parts of the news media provide coverage to the American people?

Text box captions at the bottom of the TV screen, also called lower-thirds, not only tell viewers what the news is, they say what the network wants them to make of it. In the event of a big news event, they are a way for viewers to peer into the newsroom and see how those different networks interpret what is being said.

During Ford’s testimony, CNN and MSNBC frequently returned to a statement she made saying she was “100%” certain that Kavanaugh was the one who assaulted her.

Fox News mentioned it only once. Those networks also referred several times to Ford’s sentiment that it was her “civic duty” to testify.

During Kavanaugh’s testimony, Fox’s lower thirds changed much more frequently, including several quotes from his emotional opening statement.

CNN and MSNBC frequently referenced a few notable quotes, including “I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone” and “I am innocent of this charge.”

During a 30-minute break around lunchtime, CNN and MSNBC rotated lower-thirds with quotes from Ford’s testimony. Fox News mentioned Ford’s “100 percent” statement but, for most of its coverage during the break, said the hearing had paused.

Although it seems continuity between networks is still a lot to ask for this day in age, viewers have to make a choice themselves as to how to take in what is being conveyed through the screen.

Post-Florence coverage suffers


Although Florence made landfall nearly a week ago and became a post-tropical cyclone a few days later, the long-lasting impacts are only now coming into view.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster warned on Thursday that, “The worst is yet to come.”

Some rivers are still rising, leading to evacuations that are continuing, more than two weeks after some were already advised to leave.

Portions of I-95 and I-40 remain closed in North and South Carolina.

The death toll has risen to 42.

And yet, the only main news outlet covering the story on its devastation to the Mid-Atlantic States is The Weather Channel.

Sites like CNN and USA Today, instead of covering updates on its aftermath to all the residents of those areas, choose to provide coverage about it from different, sometimes irrelevant angles.

CNN’s headline: “This satellite image shows Florence’s floodwaters polluting the Atlantic.”

USA Today‘s: “A disgusting side effect of Florence: Escaped pig poop. Lots of it.”

Instead of covering the aftermath nation’s most significant national disaster of the year from the correct and informative point of view, they choose different sides of the story that does not provide readers with an idea of the scope of devastation and ruin that some in the Carolinas are dealing with.

Room to improve in Florence coverage


It seems like in these natural disaster events, particularly hurricanes, the national news outlets do the worst job in their coverage efforts.

Sites like CNN and Fox News, although well respected in their political and general news stories, fail in most efforts to convey a well-written or scientifically accurate weather story.

CNN’s latest article incorrectly gave a rain rate total that may only be the case in one section of the hurricane, which could also change from one moment to the next. Instead of recognizing the total amount of rainfall possible at the beginning of the story, the biggest killer in tropical cyclone landfall events, they do it later, in the latter half of the story.

Fox News’s latest article has similar issues, although this article has a little more scientific accuracy than CNN’s did.

They did a good job reporting storm surge numbers reported by the National Hurricane Center in their hourly updates. They also included a tweet from the NHC in their story, giving readers a primary source as to where they can get more information.

The two main issues in this article are with the title and a similar problem in CNN’s story.

First, the title focuses on the downgrade of Florence from a Category 2 to a Category 1 Hurricane. The NHC stressed particularly with this storm that it is irrelevant where Florence landed on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, as it will have impacts far beyond just its maximum sustained winds.

Second, it mentions the total amount of rain possible even later than where CNN put it, which should by far be the most significant part of the story.

Florence news sends mixed messages


The middle of September is typically the time of the year when the Atlantic Basin is most active for producing tropical cyclones. This year looks to be living up to the norm.

Tropical Storm Florence is flourishing out in the Western Atlantic, several hundred miles southeast of Bermuda. Two other areas of disturbance are located several hundred miles off the coast of Africa. The National Hurricane Center expects both of these areas to be named storms, Helen and Issac, by the end of the weekend.

Florence is quietly sneaking up on the eastern seaboard, which is something many news outlets are simply not picking up on. USA Today wrote an excellent article Thursday outlining the high activity level of the tropics, along with an enticing headline (Florence expected to re-strengthen as it nears the East Coast) giving readers a heads-up.‘s headline is significantly different (Hurricane Florence weakens to tropical storm as New Jersey weekend weather cools considerably). They fail to recognize the point that their area could very well be in the path of this storm at this time next week but instead focus on the fact that Florence has briefly weakened to a tropical storm, which will certainly not last long.

Although it is understandable that news outlets do not want to scare their readers and induce panic and preparation at too early of a stage, it should still be imperative that the word is out there that they could be in the path of a major hurricane in a short amount of time.