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MARGARET WARNER: Good evening. I'm Margaret Warner. Jim Lehrer is on vacation. On the NewsHour tonight: The latest on the earthquake in Turkey and the growing health crisis there, efforts to make the nation's newspaper staffs more diverse, the boundaries of privacy for political figures, and an Anne Taylor Fleming essay on pop idol, Ricky Martin. It all follows our summary of the news this Monday.
MARGARET WARNER: Hurricane Bret weakened after hitting the Texas Gulf Coast last night. It was heading toward Mexico today. Kwame Holman reports.
KWAME HOLMAN: The Texas-sized storm, the largest the state has seen in nearly 20 years, spared lives, and there were no injuries reported. But property took a pounding. In the town of Falfurrius, 60 miles southwest of Corpus Christi, roofs were ripped off of homes and businesses. Up to 90 percent of the town had no electricity. Bret had been a category 4 hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico with wind gusts reaching 140 miles an hour. Weakening after landfall, it was downgraded to a tropical storm this morning. Top sustained winds dropped to 45 miles an hour. Flooding, however, remained a serious threat. The National Weather Service reported up to 25 inches of rain fell on the coastal plains. The area's average rainfall for a whole year is about 30 inches. Residents along the Texas coast fled the oncoming storm, many spent the night in shelters. Corpus Christi, the largest city in the area with 250,000 residents, was spared a direct hit, only downed tree limbs and power lines were reported. Strong winds continued to blow as residents and city workers began the cleanup. Bret is continuing westward toward Mexico. More than 3,500 people there have been evacuated because of possible flooding.
MARGARET WARNER: President Clinton declared seven south Texas counties disaster areas. Federal funds will be available to help local governments with emergency supplies and cleanup. Rain fell in Western Turkey today, hindering earthquake rescue and recovery efforts. The official death toll from last week's quake has now passed 12,000, with more than 33,000 injured. A Turkish search team pulled a four-year-old boy from the rubble where he'd been trapped for six days. But several foreign rescue teams began heading home after the search for survivors was called off in some areas. We'll have more on the situation in turkey right after the News Summary. In Kosovo today, ethnic Albanians prevented Russian troops from entering a town 40 miles southwest of Pristina. With tractors, cars, and buses. The Russians were to replace Dutch and German soldiers who have been patrolling the town under a NATO peace agreement. The Albanians claim Russian mercenaries fought alongside the Serbs during the recent conflict in Kosovo. Muslim guerillas fighting Russian soldiers in the Republic of Dagestan have withdrawn from their front-line positions, a spokesman said today. He said they had done so on orders of their commander, a guerilla fighter from neighboring Chechnya. But the Russian military reports that the rebels still hold five villages and that hostilities continue. Russia says it has 100 guerrillas pinned down around a strategic mountaintop village, where, it says, 140 rebels were killed in fighting yesterday. In Moscow, President Yeltsin met with Dagestan's leader, who does not support the rebels. Back in this country, on Wall Street the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the day in record territory, up 199.15 at 11299.76. The NASDAQ Index was up 71 points at the end of the day, closing at 2719. That's it for the News Summary tonight. Now it's on to the post-quake health crisis in Turkey, making newsrooms racially diverse, privacy for politicians, and pop idol Ricky Martin.
MARGARET WARNER: The latest on the post- earthquake situation in turkey. Turkey: We begin with two reports from the scene, the first from Robert Moore of Independent Television News.
ROBERT MOORE: There are many extraordinary rescues in earthquake zones, with people trapped amid twisted metal and concrete, but few can have been as dramatic as the survival of three-year-old Ismail Chinen. (Cheers and applause) He was brought to the surface today after almost a week after being buried in his home-- emaciated, severely dehydrated, his lips encrusted in dust. There was a sense of incredulity, even among his rescuers. Gaunt but clearly conscious, Ismail was rushed to a waiting ambulance, where paramedics immediately attended to the little boy. For a people dispossessed and visibly traumatized, first the unrelenting heat and now the torrential rain has made their suffering still worse. In the most devastated towns, like here in Adapazari, the greatest threat is judged to be disease spread by water coming through the rubble in which thousands of corpses remain trapped and decomposing. Basic measures are being taken in the earthquake zone-- masks are being worn; bottled water is available-- but still there is no sign of the coordination and organizational drive that is needed here.
DR. CLIVE CALVER: The health problem here is a disaster waiting to happen. There are maybe 30,000 bodies buried, and they're decomposing in the Turkish heat of the day. Cholera lies just around the corner, and more medicine is desperately needed.
ROBERT MOORE: But despite today's remarkable survival story, the only activity in Adapazari is demolition, for even if a few people are clinging to life in the rubble, the calculation is that many more lives would be jeopardized if this health hazard is not razed to the ground. The heavy rains falling on the rubble and the thousands of decomposing bodies all around me here have certainly hastened the decision to abandon the search for survivors. Instead, the emphasis now is on clearance work to try and prevent the outbreak of disease. The mass graves, the bleakest of sights, are covered in white lime power being used as a disinfectant. Large numbers of trenches have been dug in preparation for those who have no survival story to tell and who still lie buried in the rubble of their own homes.
JOHN IRVINE: Today, as the authorities took away what's left of thousands of homes, the former occupants were learning to make do with the most rudimentary shelter. In the town of Yalova, 60,000 people are living outside. Every piece of open space is occupied. Alexander Muratti is a musician. He and his daughter Marella returned to the family apartment today, but they refused to stay here. They are among those in the tents that prefer the primitive to the potentially perilous, so ingrained is the terror of what happened here a week ago. (Speaking Turkish) "The earthquake caused panic, and everybody ran into the street," said 13-year-old Marella.
JOHN IRVINE: Was it very frightening? (Speaking Turkish) "Yes-- it was like we were hit by a train," she said. Aid is now reaching the needy in the quantities required. An American carrier has joined the relief effort. Her helicopters have been assessing which areas need the most supplies. Turks unaffected by the quake have also been helping. They've literally been ferrying aid from Istanbul over the Marmora Sea to their beleaguered compatriots.
SPOKESMAN: Yes, we're trying to help, and we have some supplies, medical supplies and kits, formulas, to deliver to the local people.
JOHN IRVINE: The numerous field hospitals set up across the region are still busy. 14-month-old Busa Aslan was today checked and found to be clear of the infectious diseases that concern everybody here. Doctors are also acutely aware that many may have been mentally traumatized by what happened.
SPOKESMAN: There are different patients. Some of them... hypertension, some of them, headaches, and some psychiatric problems.
JOHN IRVINE: In this region, tens of thousands of ordinary people are having to cope with extraordinary circumstances. The life with which they were familiar is gone for now, and what they are left with is not so much living as existing.
MARGARET WARNER: Elizabeth Farnsworth in San Francisco has more.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And joining us now to discuss the health challenges facing Turkey are: Joelle Tanguy, executive director of Doctors Without Borders U.S.A., which has four medical teams in Turkey; and Dr. Claude de Ville de Goyet, director for emergency preparedness and disaster relief at the Pan American Health Organization, which is part of the U.N.'s World Health Organization. He has coordinated international health relief assistance following numerous hurricanes and earthquakes. Joelle Tanguy, what are your teams concentrating on now?
JOELLE TANGUY: Well, at this stage, the first, as you know, we were mostly involved within about 24 hours after the earthquake. We are a small part of a very large relief effort. And we hope to make quite a dent into the public health challenges in the region. We focused immediately on providing assistance to the people that were homeless and had no access by setting up clinics. But also making sure that we have adequate treatment for the victims of the earthquake and surveying the needs of hospitals and assisting them, particularly with the renal failure facilities.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Explain that. Why renal failure?
JOELLE TANGUY: Well, it is our experience, and it was even my personal experience ten years ago in a neighboring Armenian earthquake, which was of large proportion as well, is that the major cause of death in the patients that we pull out from the rubble and that survive are actually crush syndrome. The crush syndrome is basically the consequence of massive quantity of toxins released by the muscles that have been crushed, released into the bloodstream and, as a consequence, creating renal failure. Quite often, the hospitals are under-equipped with such dialysis facilities that need to be from. They are understaffed with nephrologists and other specialized nurses. That's what we've been able to provide, especially, the University hospital of Marmara and surveying the needs throughout the region.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And, Dr. Claude de Ville de Goyet, what about the danger of and epidemic which one hears a lot about in this country?
DR. CLAUDE DE VILLE DE GOYET: Yes. We can hear quite a lot about it. But it is grossly exaggerated because people are afraid of cholera, typhoid. But those diseases don't come from the sky. In fact, we can say, if there is a carrier of cholera, this person is much more dangerous alive than being dead buried under the rubble. So cholera, in our experience of 30 years, is not a major problem following earthquakes, nor typhoid.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: So, Doctor, explain the move by the Turkish government bury all these bodies very quickly because of danger of epidemic. That's based on misinformation?
DR. CLAUDE DE VILLE DE GOYET: It's misinformation. It's lack of training of the medical doctors locally on what is a major disaster. It is almost a violation of human rights and it's another, let's say, major psychological blow to the victims to bury the relatives without the proper social requirements. It is not justified on public health basis.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And what about putting lime down? What's that about? We saw pictures of that.
DR. CLAUDE DE VILLE DE GOYET: It's very symbolic. But it doesn't make any difference. It doesn't sterilize a body. No incineration does, by the way.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: So doctor, you're not worried about an epidemic that the point?
DR. CLAUDE DE VILLE DE GOYET: No. We're not worried about a major epidemic in Turkey.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: So tell us, what do you think the main needs right now are? What are the main health challenges?
DR. CLAUDE DE VILLE DE GOYET: Apart from what our colleague from - said, yes,renal failure and crush syndromes are a problem. But secondary treatments of all those multiple traumas is going to have -- you have to reestablish a water supply. You have to resume the normal routine health care. There may be more people with diabetes, with heart disease, failing to have medical care than there would be cases of cholera or typhoid or any other exotic medical tropical disease.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Joelle Tanguy, your reaction to that, the lack of danger of epidemics.
JOELLE TANGUY: I think I would actually practically agree, that our experience in the last ten years is that there were no massive epidemics. There, of course, needs epidemic-related issues with regards to access, adequate clean water. And that's why that's the number one priority in public health after a disaster. And at this stage, I would agree with the doctor from PAHO that somehow, the whole issue in this disaster is access to health care, the ability of people to have somehow access to health care, whether it be to get insulin for their diabetes or to have a baby delivered, given the fact that hospitals are overwhelmed. It's important to set up right away facility, and strengthen the facilities that the public health system in Turkey already has.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Ms. Tanguy, what are you hearing from your people about coordination? We heard the first ITN report that the lack of coordination is still quite evident. Are you hearing the same thing?
JOELLE TANGUY: Yes, definitely. I think that we all suffered from that. There were initial tremendous logistical problems, which deals also with the coordination issue, including telephone and transportation problems related to the earthquake. But I think altogether, it is a disaster of such proportion that it has overwhelmed any system of preparedness program that could ever have been in place. And at the moment, it will be a very big priority for all of us to be properly coordinated and not only in what we do but in - for example - to appeals for donations. It's important that the kind of medicine that arrive in Turkey are appropriate medicine for that disaster and that the very rare resources that must be allocated to the relief effort be spared the duty of sorting out wrong medicine and so on. So, my recommendation is really to be in touch with the organizations that are working on the ground and make appropriate support based on estimation and good monitoring of the situation on the ground.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Dr. De Ville de Goyet, do you have anything to add to that?
DR. CLAUDE DE VILLE DE GOYET: Yes. I would like to go longer -- perhaps one of the main sources of lack of coordination is also the external assistance. In quite a few cases, it has been called secondary disaster. Inappropriate donations, excess of medical volunteers from countries -- when the Turkish doctors are all volunteers to do their own medicines in their own countries, this, we are also - the cause - the lack of coordination. And a disaster of this size is overwhelming for any organized society.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Dr. De Ville de Goyet, it sounds like you learned a lot watching and the World Health Organization in general watching all these different disasters and learning from them. Are there quite a few myths involved with an earthquake like this that need to be countered?
DR. CLAUDE DE VILLE DE GOYET: Yes. One of the myths, as in the people locally -- assistance is needed before the earthquake, in preparedness, in training, in transfer of skills -- also, donations. There has been a lot of inappropriate donations in the past. It has been the case in Kosovo. It has been the case in any kind of disaster. It's time we learn also to be a good donor.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And, Joelle Tanguy, what about post-traumatic stress disorder? In one of the ITN pieces, that was mentioned, that many people will be suffering from psychological problems because of this. Do your teams deal with any of that?
JOELLE TANGUY: Well, they, of course, are confronted with the trauma, stress related to the earthquake. If you want to look at the operation in three phases, you must think of the first few days, as we have seen, the most important priorities to get people pulled from under the rubble and provided a chance at survival. The second phase is going to be about providing some semblance of stability and access to health care, and of course, hygiene and sanitation. But what we know is that long after the cameras will be gone, we'll probably still be there and a number of organizations... and as you said, Doctor, with quite a lot of experience, Turkish doctors working on the mental health care consequences of that earthquake as we did, for example, five years later, we were still working on that in neighboring Armenia.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And, Ms. Tanguy, what did you find in Armenia, what kind of psychological damage?
JOELLE TANGUY: Well, particularly, at the time, we focused our efforts on the young children, and we found that it was both important to provide both direct care, but also some facilities to coach the local professionals in providing medical care related to mental health care. I think that there will be a large... it's not only the children that suffer. It's every single person. And it can create wounds in a society that are long-lasting. Unfortunately, this is not something you can see in the first medical screening. And it takes more of a specialized team in the end to carry out. But it will be probably in the phase three, a priority for Turkish public health to deal with this.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And, Doctor, we have very little time, but your comments on that.
DR. CLAUDE DE VILLE DE GOYET: This, again, is the training of local physicians and local health services. When you invest in those people, generally, it pays off.
DR. CLAUDE DE VILLE DE GOYET: And they can take care of the problems.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Thank you both very much for being with us.
MARGARET WARNER: Daily newspapers are trying new ways to make their news rooms and their coverage more racially diverse. Media Correspondent Terence Smith has more. (Lively percussion-driven music playing)
TERENCE SMITH: This is the sound of Unity, Unity '99, a multicultural summer gathering of native American, Hispanic, Asian and black journalists. Some 6,000 strong, their convention in Seattle was billed as the largest assembly of American journalists ever, minority or majority. (Cheers and applause) At the opening ceremony, they bonded to a festive beat and a caustic view of the mainstream media.
SPOKESPERSON: Today we stop asking the question "who will tell our story?" Because we know that we will tell our story.
SPOKESPERSON: Will we miss the celebration shout at the end of apartheid, slavery, and broken treaties? Will we let the American media blind us to the world it still can't see?
TERENCE SMITH: The complaint voiced by speakers at the conference was that despite the progress of recent decades, America's newsrooms still don't look like America itself. Alicia Gooden is one of three black journalists at the Galveston Daily News in Texas.
ALICIA GOODEN: That same, old sorry excuse that "we can't find any qualified, you know, journalists of color" is bull. You can find them. You're not looking in the right places.
TERENCE SMITH: Veteran journalist Earl Caldwell is also skeptical about mainstream editors' assertions that they are trying to achieve a better racial balance on their staffs.
EARL CALDWELL: They say they believe in diversity. They say they believe in telling the stories from all sides of town, but they don't do it.
TERENCE SMITH: 40 percent of American newspapers have no people of color on staff. Roughly 28 percent of the American population is black, Hispanic, Asian American and Native American. But according to the latest studies, minorities hold only 11.5 percent of newspaper jobs. Dinah Eng, a copy editor at Gannett News Service, is the only Asian American with a nationally syndicated column. She sees limited progress towards diversity.
DINA ENG: We have reached a point, certainly in entry level, where we look very hard for reporters, and we're beginning to look harder for people in mid-management, and we want to promote them up higher up the ranks, but there's a very clear glass ceiling.
TERENCE SMITH: Twenty years ago, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, also known as ASNE, recognized the problem and set themselves a minority staffing goal: Parity with the general population by the year 2000. Meeting again last year, the editors were forced to admit that they had missed the mark by a mile. Former "Milwaukee Journal" Editor Sig Gissler is a member of ASNE. He argues that the liberalization of immigration quotas has nearly doubled the nonwhite population, making it more difficult for the editors to reach their goals.
SIG GISSLER: The goal of parity was set before the immigration laws were changed and the surge of immigration occurred in this country, which really changed the whole demographic profile and really raised the percentage that the industry had to shoot for.
TERENCE SMITH: Acknowledging the difficulty of the problem, the editors postponed their proportional goals, not for a year or two, but for a quarter century, to the year 2025. Dinah Eng:
DINAH ENG: When we talk about postponing things or changing numbers, sometimes people can get upset at that, and I tend to look more on the long term, that we have made progress, that we're continuing to make progress, but that we mustn't stop setting goals for ourselves.
TERENCE SMITH: Recently, the editors said the issue goes beyond ensuring equal opportunity in newsrooms. They concluded in a report to their members, that under- representation of minorities on their staffs virtually guaranteed distortion in their coverage.
DAVID YARNOLD: For years journalists have been told that diversity is good business. It is. We've been told that it's morally right. It is. And still newsrooms have been slow to change. So by reframing this as an issue of accuracy, we think we hit a nerve.
TERENCE SMITH: David Yarnold is executive editor of the "San Jose Mercury News," a newspaper that serves an ethnically diverse area of California.
DAVID YARNOLD: Hiring goes hand in glove with credibility and accuracy. Every journalist needs to be able to see through various lenses. Being able to bring people together with different cultural backgrounds is going to make our reports more authentic.
DAVID YARNOLD: Every newsroom in America received this tool kit...
TERENCE SMITH: Yarnold helped organize a week of workshops, a national time-out that was called at 140 newspapers around the country to focus attention on diversity.
SPOKESPERSON: What I don't think we should do is if you need... if you want to talk to Hispanics, if you want to talk to Indians, go to East San Jose for Hispanics, because I don't think Hispanics only live in East San Jose.
TERENCE SMITH: The "Mercury News" is covering a community that has been transformed in recent decades by waves of immigration. At their time-out session, the staff tried to come up with what they call "Rainbow Rolodexes."
SPOKESPERSON: At the risk of looking like I'm at a McCarthy hearing, I do have in my hand... (Laughter) ...the names of 92 San Jose neighborhood groups-- all have contacts, all have phone numbers-- and another 50 ethnic groups.
TERENCE SMITH: Editor David Yarnold recalled how diversity on the staff has paid editorial dividends.
DAVID YARNOLD: In the project we ran recently about piecework in Silicon Valley, workers taking work home, which is illegal and/or unsafe, having two Asian-American reporters clearly won the trust of many of the sources of those stories and made the series a whole lot deeper and a lot more honest.
TERENCE SMITH: Across the country in the ethnic stew that is Miami, Florida, managing editor Larry Olmstead has broken the glass ceiling. His "Miami Herald" staff of 300 included 56 Hispanics, 42 blacks and 5 Asians at last count.
LARRY OLMSTEAD: I came here two and a half years ago and you would walk into the morning news meeting or the page one meeting, and I would walk in and I would be the only black person in the room. Does it make a difference to have even one black person in the room? Yes, it does.
TERENCE SMITH: The "Herald" has made a determined effort to diversify, adding columnists like Cuban-born Liz Balmaseda.
LIZ BALMASEDA: Some days I wake up and I go, "I am Swedish today." (Laughter) "I'm not Cuban today. I can't take this anymore, and that's it."
TERENCE SMITH: At the "Herald's" time-out session, Balmaseda and columnists Bob Steinback and Fred Grimm talked to colleagues about how the paper should handle diversity.
SPOKESMAN: We can't assume that one group or any group that looks a certain way is going to think a certain way on every issue. On some issues they might, on some issues they won't. I mean, a middle-class black community is going to think differently from a poor black community.
TERENCE SMITH: Columnist Fred Grimm offered a dissenting note.
FRED GRIMM: I don't question the goal. It's just... it's just so... can be so ham-handed. If you're not careful, you build up a certain amount of resentment along the way.
TERENCE SMITH: Even Bob Steinback acknowledged that the focus on diversity can produce a backlash.
BOB STEINBACK: I think there's a point where people who have really honestly tried to get out of the old mindsets and get into a more pluralistic sort of mindset are also now getting a little cultured out-- you know, where they're starting to say, "all right, already, I mean, I've tried... I've been to all the diversity training; you know, I didn't object when my daughter went out with a black guy. Haven't I arrived yet?" You know... (Laughter)
TERENCE SMITH: Liz Balmaseda is bilingual. She believes that helps her give voice to Latinos, including these Mexican migrant workers celebrating their high school graduation.
LIZ BALMASEDA: When you have reporters and writers living in diverse communities, they're living in these small communities, going to bring their lives into the pages of the paper.
TERENCE SMITH: Back at Unity '99, some employers went buses unloading to great lengths to boost morale of minority staff. Media Conglomerate Knight Ridder sponsored a five-hour dinner cruise. Former Editor Sig Gissler, who recently conducted a study on newspaper diversity for the Columbia University School of Journalism, took some encouragement from the number of organizations recruiting at the job fair.
SIG GISSLER: Well, it's a small proportion of the total daily newspapers-- we have over 1,400 of them-- but I think it's a very good representation of newspapers in multicultural markets, and I think that's a very positive development.
TERENCE SMITH: Earl Caldwell says that whatever diversity has been achieved in today's newsrooms, it has been a long time coming. He recalled how he broke into New York City newsrooms when white editors found they needed black reporters to cover the urban riots of the 1960's.
EARL CALDWELL: These voices were coming at them from out of nowhere. They were like foreign countries sitting dead up in the middle of these cities, but they were like foreign countries. They didn't know what was going on there, and when they found these explosions to come, they couldn't cover them, because when they sent the reporters there, they got beat and they got sent out. Crowds would scream, "White reporters out!" That probably did more... those three words created a demand for journalists of color. That's the door that pried the door open that we came through.
TERENCE SMITH: Despite the obstacles he encountered in his own career, Caldwell is cautiously optimistic about the future of young minority journalists he met at the Unity conference.
EARL CALDWELL: They see a vision of what the coverage ought to be like. It's just this giant step forward. The only problem is there is not enough of them.
TERENCE SMITH: The huge turnout at the unity conference and the intense recruiting at the job fair suggested that the industry is in fact changing, no matter how slowly.
MARGARET WARNER: Still to come on the NewsHour tonight: Politicians and privacy, and singing sensation Ricky Martin.
MARGARET WARNER: When and where can a politician insist on a zone of personal privacy? We begin our look with this report by Kwame Holman.
SPOKESMAN: I'm going to tell you something. It's time for some politician to stand up and say enough is enough of this.
KWAME HOLMAN: For months, Texas Governor George Bush said he would not answer any questions about whether he ever used illegal drugs. But last week, he went back on that pledge. He told reporters that during the time his father was in the White House, he truthfully could have answered no to questions about drug use routinely posed in F.B.I. background checks.
Not only could I have passed the standards applied in today's White House, I could have passed the standards applied on the most stringent conditions when my dad was President of the United States.
KWAME HOLMAN: The Bush campaign later said the Texas governor meant by his statements that he has been drug free since 1974, when he was 28 years old. But that didn't end a growing debate.
SPOKESMAN: Cocaine: Did he or didn't he?
KWAME HOLMAN: Over the weekend, myriad politicians weighed in on whether Bush should speak further about whether he used illegal drugs, particularly cocaine. Some said Bush has said enough already.
SPOKESMAN: This is not just about George Bush, this is about national politics and the right to privacy. The fact is, is that what we ought to be concerned about is the kind of person you are today and the factthat you've been able to overcome the sins of the past, Congressman. We're all sinners. The question is, did we get better?
KWAME HOLMAN: However two Bush rivals for the Republican presidential nomination said he should give a more direct answer to the question of the week.
SPOKESMAN: I think we're all going to have to answer questions that go to law breaking. I think that anything that involves a felony-- I don't see how you can get away with it. I think the simple thing to do, the easy thing to do, is just answer the question.
SPOKESMAN: I think the best way to handle this as a candidate for President, since you're going to be the chief law enforcement officer of the land if you're elected, is to be forthright and candid. Tell people what you really...just answer the darn question and get rid of it.
KWAME HOLMAN: Other politicians from both parties toed a middle line on the drug use question.
SPOKESMAN: Well, it is legitimate, and no, he doesn't have to be compelled to answer it. That's his decision. He has to decide just how far he'll go down that road and what kind of consequences there are for answering it or not answering it.
SPOKESMAN: My take is that he has a right to privacy. But I also understand that the media and the American people set the standard as to where that level of privacy is. And I'd like to see his privacy preserved, but I also understand that this is a very difficult business that we're in.
KWAME HOLMAN: For his part, Governor Bush now has returned to his original position, saying he will not answer any further questions on the subject.
MARGARET WARNER: To explore the issue of politicians and privacy beyond the Bush case, we're joined by two Republican governors, Gary Johnson, of New Mexico, and Frank Keating of Oklahoma, Former Arkansas Governor and U.S. Senator, Dale Bumpers, a Democrat, who is now director of the Center for Defense Information, and NewsHour regular, David Gergen, a former advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. Governor Johnson, how much personal privacy should a political figure expect to have to give up if he goes into politics?
GARY JOHNSON: Oh, I think the press has the right to ask any questions they want to ask, and what I really see here is an opportunity to look at the drug laws that we have in this country. And I want to suggest that the drug law... that the drug war in this country is really a miserable failure and that George Bush is one of 78 million Americans that... I guess he hasn't admitted it... that 78 million Americans have done illegal drugs at one point or another, and that, again, that this is an issue that really needs to be looked at and we need to focus on our lost war, that the goal should really be about reducing drug use and by all measurement, we have increased drug use in this country over the last 30/40 years.
MARGARET WARNER: Governor, if I could interrupt you, what I really would like to look at here, though, and we should explain to our viewers that you did tell the voters of New Mexico before you were elected that you had experimented with cocaine in college. And we want to make sure the viewers understand that. But I'd like to look at the larger issue, not so much about Governor Bush or even the issue of drugs. In other words, when you went into politics, did you say to yourself I'm not going to have any secrets?
GARY JOHNSON: Well, again, I think people have a right to know. I think the press has the right to ask what questions they want to ask. And I understood that as part of this endeavor, in other words, as part ofwanting to be and becoming governor of the state of New Mexico.
MARGARET WARNER: So you don't think there's a line that a politician can draw?
GARY JOHNSON: I don't think so.
MARGARET WARNER: Governor Keating, how do you see it?
FRANK KEATING: Well, it's not an easy issue, and it's certainly not an easy answer to develop. It's really person by person, circumstance by circumstance. But I agree with Gary Johnson, that it's really basically a house without curtains. Privacy, what kind of toothpaste do you use, what's your private fantasy, you know, what kind of dreams do you have, those are private questions and can require no answer. But when it comes to, have you paid all your parking tickets, have you paid all your taxes, have you used drugs? I think those are legitimate questions. But, obviously, there should be some kind of statute of limitations here. And over a generation is a pretty good statute. For example, when I was a child, when I was a young person, possession of marijuana was a misdemeanor, driving... rather underage drinking was a misdemeanor. I think 25 years ago, either of those questions don't need to be answered. But it's tough. Being in public life, you're an open book, you're basically a whipping boy; everybody likes to beat up on you and believe the worst. But we try to move through it and work our way through it as best we can. But it's not easy.
MARGARET WARNER: Senator Bumpers, is that the way you see it, and you see it, that essentially you have to be an open book?
SEN. DALE BUMPERS: I don't think you can generalize about it. I think to generalize is very dangerous. Each case stands on its own hind legs. And I think that any politician, when question is raised by the press as to whether or not the politician has been guilty of some kind of conduct in the past or unethical conduct or something, he has to make a decision then as to how he strongly feels about it. If it actually is what he considers to be an invasion of his privacy, he can make a decision not to reveal it, not to talk about it. He does so at his own peril. And actually it is the press who will decide what is legitimate, supports an invasion of his privacy, which isn't. In the case of George Bush, for example, I think he takes the stand he's taking now at his own peril because the press is not likely to turn it loose. And in that connection - and we're not talking about George Bush here tonight, but just to say, Orrin Hatch is a good friend of mine, we served many years together in the Senate, and I don't think we voted together ten times, but we agreed on this. When you're asking the people to trust you and to put their faith in you to hold a certain office, you ought to be willing to put your faith in them. And it will pay rich dividends almost every time. And in almost every instance you can tell people. Governor Johnson just said that he had told the people in New Mexico. You see, it redounded to his benefit. And in most every instance, that's the way it will the turn out.
MARGARET WARNER: David Gergen, do you think a politician, if there's something personal that he doesn't or she doesn't want to talk about, can create and enforce a zone of privacy?
DAVID GERGEN: I think courageous politicians should try. And I hope that campaign will grow more forceful in the years ahead. Let's take a woman who is running for office who is pro-choice and may have had an abortion while she is an adult. And that is learned by the press or the people ask her about that, should she have to reveal that? I don't think so. We're rapidly coming to the time when we're going to have information about people's health records. The Human Genome Project is leading us to a time when we're going to be able to test people for their genetic make-ups. And employers are going to have that information. Should that information which may tell you what a person... a person has a predisposition to a certain disease, should that become a part of the public record? I don't think so. My own sense is that we have to fight now to restore his own privacy; we have become entirely too voyeuristic as a society. We're looking for information about public officials not to inform our judgment about their capacity to office but to titillate our emotions.
MARGARET WARNER: Governor Johnson, take the example David Gergen just offered. Let's say a woman politician, whether she's pro-choice or pro-life, who had had an abortion, would you consider that something that she should have to answer questions about?
GARY JOHNSON: Again, I just think that in this line of work, you've got to be prepared to answer any question that's presented to you. At least this has always been my impression. This is the way I played it. Just answer it. Answer truthfully. Anything that can be revealed eventually needs to get revealed immediately. There's always time to fix things. That's been my philosophy.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, David Gergen, back to you. In your capacity as advisor to different Presidents and political figures, what has been your advice when the blood's in the water, when the press is for one reason or another, fairly or unfairly on to something or thinks it's on to something and the pressure is building. Then, how should a political figure deal with it?
DAVID GERGEN: Margaret, my advice has been, if the issue that is at stake here is about your behavior as a public official, you are entirely accountable to the public for what you do on the public payroll and you should disclose that. That, after all, was the issue in Whitewater, it was the issue in Watergate, it was an issue in many, many of the scandal that we've had over the last 30 years in politics. But when it comes to your private life, and it's matters that do not have a significant or serious bearing upon your capacity to govern, then I believe that you should fight to maintain your privacy. Everything about you has some conceivable bearing on your capacity to govern, but that means that if that's the standard, if there's some conceivable bearing, everything is fair game. And I think that strips that political figure of his or her rights. I think it encourages "gotcha" journalism. And I think very, very badly -- it encourages us to look -- to judge people under wrong standards of performance, what's in their private lives, or what's in their sexual records, as opposed to what kind of public official you would be. Should we have disqualified Martin Luther King as a moral leader of this country because of the chaos in his private life? I think not.
MARGARET WARNER: Governor Keating, how would you answer this question, if you felt that the press was asking you about something that you honestly felt was inappropriate and personal, then what do you do at that point?
FRANK KEATING: Well, that's something, as our guests have said, is a challenge to every one of us who has been elected to public office. I happened to be of the view that you get into this arena and basically you're there in your under shorts and everybody can look at you. That's just the reality of 1999 politics. But you can always say that's none of your business, or I'm not going to answer that. You do that at your peril. Some people may vote for you because of your candor and your courage, some people may vote against you because the absence of candor and courage, but it has to be your individual answer. For example, what you do while you're in office in your private time, I think may very well be relevant. For example, if you entice an intern into your office and engage in inappropriate conduct, if you are saying things to people that simply are scurrilous and damaging to people's reputations, I mean, once you're in public life, I think you're an open book. But there ought to be, as I indicated, a statute of limitations. When you're a child, you better learn from your mistakes, and you ought to be given a pass as you learn through those mistakes.
MARGARET WARNER: Governor Johnson, you were trying to get in here.
GARY JOHNSON: Well, a couple of points. Do I answer, "it's none of your business?" Occasionally I do. How much money did you make prior to becoming governor? But I happen to think that this drug issue is a real lightning rod. And I'm not talking now about George Bush, I'm talking about the issue itself. And that is by the good graces of God, I didn't get arrested. I wasn't charged with a felony for being one of the 78 million Americans who have used illegal drugs. And I think that's the hypocrisy of our drug policies that we have today, that we're not reducing drug use, that we're putting a lot of people in jail.
MARGARET WARNER: Senator Bumpers, do you think that the place at which a political figure can say "none of your business" has changed? I'm thinking of the fact that say, Gary Hart was essentially drummed out of the presidential race what, ten, eleven years ago once allegations surfaced about infidelity. Bill Clinton, on the other hand, was able to turn the questions aside. Do you think the line has changed or not?
SEN. DALE BUMPERS: I think the press has become more persistent. They've put a lot more pressure on the candidates than they used to. But, Margaret, the test should always be, the first test should always be, is there an allegation or is there the suspicion, as in the case of George W. Bush... is it something that goes to his credibility or his ability to serve? Maybe it's a health problem. When they ask him will you reveal your health records, he says no. Maybe he has an emotional sickness. And that could be lethal even though sometimes it shouldn't be. But in the final analysis, if a candidate decides that his privacy is about to be invaded needlessly and that deals with an issue that's either very old or has nothing to do with his ability to serve in office, no matter how hard the press might try, they cannot keep it alive. And the reason people stayed with Bill Clinton through the impeachment trial was the American people made up their mind that infidelity was simply not enough to overturn an election.
MARGARET WARNER: So are you saying you think the public is really more... I don't know if it's sophisticated or tolerant than maybe the press?
SEN. DALE BUMPERS: They are. Margaret, I'm glad you used that expression and that term because the truth of the matter is this is one of the places - this is not unhappily - this is not always the case -- it's in this area where the people are much more sophisticated than they are sometimes in picking candidates. They are very unforgiving. As I say...
MARGARET WARNER: Forgiving or unforgiving?
SEN. DALE BUMPERS: They are very forgiving. And the truthfulness and the candor of a candidate who will admit, yes, you know, I did something wrong then, I regret it terribly and I'm sorry if I influenced any youngsters, apologized profusely for it. And they can usually tell by somebody's countenance, just their countenance and the way they express themselves, whether they're generally sorry, whether it is something that they're willing to forgive them for. And in almost every case, they are. So, usually -- Governor Johnson is absolutely right. In almost every instance, it is better for a politician to shell down the corn and tell the American people the unvarnished truth because I think they are forgiving. And I think they admire the people who have the candor and self-confidence to reveal things like that.
MARGARET WARNER: Governor Keating, do you think that the public is more tolerant, more forgiving? Do you think it's become more so or just we never asked them before?
FRANK KEATING: No. I think we're more forgiving. We're a very conflicting society. We're a very diverse society. I think people are very understanding of individuals that go through hard times in their lives because they go through hard times as well. But the one lesson from all this is, is even though you may say, "it's none of your business," even though you will see, I think, once candor emerges, a forgiving public, if you lie, you're finished.
MARGARET WARNER: David Gergen, your view of the public and whether the public has changed here.
DAVID GERGEN: I do think the public has become more tolerant as the public has learned more about the baby boom generation. For example, we've moved from marijuana being unacceptable for a potential Supreme Court candidate or a candidate for high office to marijuana use now being part of the record and people accept it and move on. We've moved on in the question of nannies and illegal hiring of nannies. That's now acceptable. It knocked people out. But, Margaret, I honestly feel that the issue is not just public acceptance. I think it's the way we demean those who run for office. It's the way we strip them of their dignity. The fact that a candidate must reveal that his wife took... was treated for depression, as happened in the Gore family or as happened in the Powell family, when the questions arise about whether someone's been treated psychologically in the past or there's been marriage counseling, I think there are a number of things about our lives which simply should be left to the individual. We all make mistakes. We all have blemishes. But the real issue is we ought not to be, in effects, you know, run through every time somebody wants to run for office. And let's remember, after all, what happened back in the late 1920's, we had an absolute boy scout for President. He was - he had an unblemished life. And Herbert Hoover went down as one of our least successful Presidents. He was succeeded by a man who had this affair that nearly tore apart his marriage that we didn't know about till years later. And he turned out to be one of our best Presidents. We should not simply be looking for boy scouts.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Thank you, David, and Governors, very much.
MARGARET WARNER: Finally tonight, Essayist Anne Taylor Fleming considers the appeal of singer Ricky Martin. ("Livin' La Vida Loca" playing)
ANNE TAYLOR FLEMING: You'd have to be a real recluse not to have seen 27- year-old Ricky Martin strut his stuff.
SINGING: She's into superstition black cats and voodoo dolls...
ANNE TAYLOR FLEMING: He's everywhere-- from the "Today" show to MTV to "People" Magazine-- looking every inch the matinee idol/soap opera actor he once was. Martin is full-tilt, eager-to- please exuberance, a breath of frat-boy good looks in a sea of nose rings, tattoos, and heavy leather. We're talking post-post grunge here, the return of the handsome hunk with the boisterous hips, the millennial Elvis. But what's truly different about Martin is that he's truly bilingual and bicultural, hip- hopping from Spanish to English and back again. A native of Puerto Rico, Martin's previous four albums, all in Spanish, sold more than 15 million copies worldwide. "Livin' la Vida Loca" is his first in English, but it's peppered with Latin accents, linguistic and musical, and America loves it. Martin's the right guy at the right place at the right time.
SINGING: Livin' la vida loca...
ANNE TAYLOR FLEMING: We might have a complicated feeling about bilingualism-- many clearly do-- but the reality is that we live in a complicated world where both front-running presidential hopefuls, George W. Bush and Al Gore, took pains in their kickoff speeches to speak some Spanish. That is the reality. In the next decade, Latinos will pass African Americans as the largest minority group in the country, and Ricky Martin is the pied piper of that new world, where a crossover artist can be a star in both languages. Imitators are already lining up, notably actress-singer Jennifer Lopez, who's slithering through her videos like a Latin Madonna: English lyrics, Latin moves-- welcome to the new real world. In fairness, they are not the first such ambassadors. There have been previous pioneers bringing their mambos and salsas and rumbas up North.
SINGING: Come on shake your body baby do the conga; I know you can't control yourself any longer...
ANNE TAYLOR FLEMING: Certainly Gloria Estefan and her Miami Sound Machine helped get the ball rolling in the early 80's, thus becoming the darling of Florida's Cuban expatriates. And in Los Angeles, there was the East LA Mexican band Los Lobos.
SINGING: A quiet voice singing something to me.
ANNE TAYLOR FLEMING: Before them, there were others, everyone from Hollywood stars like Delores Del Rio and Carmen Miranda in the 30's and 40's, to Tito Puente and Lucy's husband, Desi Arnaz, in the 50's, and also, of course, Richie Valens with his can't- stay-in-your-chair "La Bamba." (Playing "La Bamba") If you've lived here in Southern California as I have, you've undoubtedly heard Latin music a good part of your life. It was either blaring or whispering from some portable radio in a restaurant kitchen or on a street corner, or even in your own home, where someone came to clean or mow the lawn, bringing with them the music of their south-of-the-border homeland. The music always struck me as searingly sensual and romantic, though I didn't understand a word. It wasn't the Latin global pop of today, but something purer, fluid and percussive all at the same time. Some of it was straight mariachi, and sometimes it clearly had Africa in it, too, not surprising since the vast percentage of slaves brought to the Americas went, in fact, to Latin America. For a taste of this, you can go see the current movie, "The Buena Vista Social Club," a loving portrait of some aging Cuban musicians. Beside them, Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez do look a little airbrushed, prepackaged in looks and style to appeal to a mainstream white audience. But in effect, they are simply different pieces of the same story, the explosion and exuberant embrace of Latin music, of so-called fusion, where styles and cultures blur. Look around. Tango classes are full. Latin dance clubs are all the rage. And it isn't just music. The hippest restaurant trend is a Latin accent, be it Mexican or Peruvian or Brazilian. And salsa outsells ketchup.
SINGING: She will wear you out livin' la vida loca come on-- Livin' la vida loca come on livin' la vida loca.
ANNE TAYLOR FLEMING: And Ricky Martin is on the roll of a lifetime, living la vida loca of fame. We like that. We don't just like him, we like what his success says about the rest of us. I'm Anne Taylor Fleming.
MARGARET WARNER: Again the major stories of this Monday, Hurricane Bret struck land along the Texas Gulf Coast and headed west toward Mexico, causing damage but no deaths or injuries, and rain in Western Turkey hindered earthquake rescue and recovery efforts. The official death toll from last week's quake has now passed 12,000. We'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. I'm Margaret Warner. Thank you and good night.
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
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Politics and Government
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Producing Organization: NewsHour Productions
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Chicago: “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” 1999-08-23, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
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APA: The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Boston, MA: NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from