HBO hacked about Diebold's docu claims


HBO fired back at Diebold Election Systems on Thursday, defending its documentary "Hacking Democracy" from accusations of shoddy filmmaking.

In a letter to Diebold president David Byrd, HBO contends that accusations of factual errors and unfairness are unwarranted (HR 11/1).

"You assert in your letter that the documentary contains 'significant factual errors'; however, based on several of the purported examples you have cited, you do not appear to have viewed the film which will premiere on HBO on Nov. 2," HBO attorney Peter Rienecker wrote in a letter dated Wednesday. "HBO stands by the accuracy and fairness of the documentary. Of course, if after viewing the film on the HBO service (Thursday night) you continue to have concerns, we would be happy to discuss them with you at that time."

In particular, HBO writes that the film doesn't make any assertions that problems with Diebold machines caused widespread errors in the 2000 election. Diebold entered the electronic-voting business in 2002, and the company claimed that the film made it appear that the company was in the electronic-voting machine business before them.

HBO and the "Hacking Democracy" filmmakers also contend that they tried repeatedly to contact Diebold to get interviews about issues raised in the film.

A call to Diebold on Thursday night wasn't returned.

Diebold spokesman David Bear said in an interview Tuesday that the company was never contacted by the filmmakers when they were making the docu. Sarah Teale, the film's executive producer, said at one point that they were so frustrated with Diebold's unresponsiveness they had someone call the company every day.

While Diebold executives admitted that they had not seen "Hacking Democracy," the company asked HBO to pull the film from its schedule or air company disclaimers questioning its accuracy.

Diebold said promotional materials provided on HBO's Web site prompted the company's requests, which HBO denied.