Unfinished Biz

Bush's bulge, poll fraud, and other rumors at the conspiracy-theory frontier

"I'd much rather gamble on holding the paper on election night and hope for a victory," Golway says, admitting he almost reported the wrong victory: He planned on leading with "Kerry Wins" until editor Peter Kaplan predicted that Bush might prevail.


Second verse, same as the first

Alas, Bush did win (maybe), and so the D.C. press corps gets another four years with Mr. No-Follow-Ups. Do the Washington reporters for New York's dailies think anything will change?

"They start out with a clean slate, simply because this time Bush was elected by the people," not a court, says Daily News reporter Ken Bazinet, who detects "relief" in the press corps that someone was actually elected on Election Day. Timothy Phelps, Newsday's D.C. bureau chief, says, "Bush is likely to get an easier ride by the press by being re-elected" with a "mandate."

Recently, second terms have been marked by scandal for the press to feast upon—from Watergate to Iran-Contra to Monica. There are perilous stories still out there for Bush, from the CIA leak probe to the Halliburton inquiry. But given his track record, it's not clear that any story can stain this president.

"These guys are Teflon. They went through Enron, Halliburton, no WMD, no ties to Al Qaeda," Bazinet says. "Nothing sticks."

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