Waxman gives NBC election play-by-play

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on Monday sent NBC Chairman Bob Wright the most detailed letter yet, describing an unnamed eyewitness's account of Election Night 2000 at NBC.

According to the letter, now-former General Electric Chairman Jack Welch hung around NBC's Decision Desk for several hours that night, "distracting" NBC News Director of Elections Sheldon Gawiser. "Shortly after Mr. Welch arrived at the Decision Desk, he made clear his hope that George W. Bush would win the election. In fact, at one point he was heard saying to Dr. Gawiser: `How much would I have to pay you to call the race for Bush?'

While that comment may have been made in jest, it clearly underscored Mr. Welch's and General Electric's vested interest in the outcome of the election," Waxman wrote. He added: "Mr. Welch remained present at the Decision Desk for approximately two hours, repeatedly distracting Dr. Gawiser and his team of analysts from their critical responsibilities."

Waxman says after John Ellis - Fox News's senior desk man and George W. Bush's cousin - called the election for Bush, "Mr. Welch was observed standing behind Dr. Gawiser with a hand on his shoulder, asking why NBC was not also calling the election for Mr. Bush."

Finally, Waxman concluded: "Mr. Welch's presence was grossly inappropriate and a blatant violation of the separation that must exist between NBC's News Division and its corporate management." Waxman again called on NBC to provide internal videotapes that allegedly captured the events of that evening, but made no further threats of using subpoenas to get those tapes.

NBC officials still have no plans to submit the tapes. "In an eight-page tome, Congressman Waxman comes up with the shocking revelation that Jack Welch was interested in the results of what was perhaps the most riveting night in the history of presidential elections in that he supported George Bush. Not exactly a news flash," NBC said in a statement. - Paige Albiniak