thumbnail of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
Hide -
JIM LEHRER: Good evening. I'm Jim Lehrer. On the NewsHour tonight two 25th anniversaries: first, the Watergate burglary, Kwame Holman reports, Beschloss, Johnson, Goodwin, and Howard Baker, and Charles Rangel reflect. Second, the Title IX law on women's sports, Elizabeth Brackett reports from Chicago; plus a Paul Solman conversation with Robert Hughes, author of "American Visions." It all follows our summary of the news this Tuesday. NEWS SUMMARY
JIM LEHRER: Today was the 25th anniversary of the law known as Title IX. It bars sexual discrimination in schools, colleges, and universities that receive federal aid. It brought an explosion in women's sports because it required equal athletic programs for men and women. President and Mrs. Clinton held a ceremony today to commemorate the occasion. Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner Kersee and Astronaut Sally Ride joined them. Joyner Kersee said Title IX gave her the chance to pursue an athletic career.
JACKIE JOYNER-KERSEE, Olympic Medalist: Because of Title IX I'm here. You know, I am a recipient. I have benefitted. We have to continue to fight. You know, there are--women are striving, you know, but still we've got to do it for the engineers, still, we've got to do it for the non-traditional jobs. Still, we have to continue to make a place for woman. A place is a woman's place. Everywhere is a woman's place.
JIM LEHRER: Mr. Clinton formally extended the reach of Title IX today to cover federally run schools for Indians and military families.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Today we celebrate how far we've come, but we must also recommit ourselves to Title IX's goal of the quality in education, for too many schools and education programs still drag their feet and lab behind in their responsibility to our young women and girls. A lot of people don't know this either, but currently Title IX only applies to educational programs and activities that receive funding from the national government. Ironically, it does not apply to the programs that the national government runs itself. I believe and I surely hope that every American would agree that the national government must hold itself to the same high standards it expects from everyone else.
JIM LEHRER: We'll have more on this story later in the program. Today is also the 25th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, the crime that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. We'll remember Watergate and assess its impact right after the News Summary. Also at the White House today President and Mrs. Clinton announced incentives for economic growth in subsaharan Africa. They include increasing duty-free access to American markets for more African products, loan guarantees for private investments, and debt relief. The economic summit of industrialized nations in Denver this weekend will focus on assisting economic development in Africa. At the capitol today the Senate Finance Committee considered a plan to provide health care coverage to uninsured children. The plan was endorsed today by President Clinton but opposed by the Republican committee chairman William Roth of Delaware. He wants a block grant program that gives funds directly to the states. Roth also announced his tax cut proposal today. It's similar to the House version passed last week. In economic news today consumer prices inched up .1 percent in May, the Labor Department reported. That good inflation news briefly sent the stock market surging, but it dropped back and closed down 11 points at 7760.78. On the tobacco settlement negotiations today the states threatened to withdraw from the talks with tobacco industry lawyers unless their demands on regulation are met. Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore outlined the terms to reporters.
MIKE MOORE, Mississippi Attorney General: They have to be punished for past misconduct. They have to be punished for past misconduct. They have to maintain their liability for future conduct, for punitive damages, as well as compensatory damages for any American that wishes to sue them. And we think that nicotine- -I'll say that differently--we know and we believe that nicotine has to be regulated by the Food & Drug Administration. We will not give in on those three issues.
JIM LEHRER: South Dakota's attorney general announced today his state will file its own lawsuit against the big tobacco companies, becoming the 38th state to do so. Overseas, in Cambodia, mortar and small arms fire broke out in the capital of Phnom Penh. The fighting was reportedly between bodyguards for the country's two rival co-premiers. The U.S. embassy ordered all American citizens to stay in their homes until further notice. Also today, Cambodia's Khmers Rouge rebels predicted their long-time leader, Pol Pot, would be overthrown soon. His whereabouts are unknown. He's blamed for the deaths of more than a million Cambodians during the late 1970's. In the Middle East today there was violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over expanding Israeli settlements. In Hebron, fighting began when about 100 Palestinian youths threw rocks and firebombs at soldiers guarding Jewish enclaves. The soldiers responded with rubber-coated metal bullets. At least 17 Palestinians were wounded, including a 12-year-old boy, who was shot in the head. Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in March over the building of Jewish housing in Jerusalem. And late today the FBI said the man suspected of the 1993 shooting outside the CIA in Washington was in custody in Virginia. He was turned over to the United States by Afghans. Mir Alkam Kansee was sought for the shooting deaths of two CIA employees at a traffic light outside the agency during morning rush hour on January 25, 1993. Three others were injured in the attack. FBI Deputy Director William Esposito said Kansee would be tried in Fairfax, Virginia. And that's it for the News Summary tonight. Now it's on to Watergate, Title IX, and "American Visions." FOCUS - TURNING POINT
JIM LEHRER: It was 25 years ago today that a group of most unusual burglars broke into the Watergate office building in Washington, thus beginning the saga of American history known simply as Watergate. We have a discussion recorded last week about its legacy that follows this reminder by Kwame Holman on what it was.
KWAME HOLMAN: It began with what appeared to be a simple burglary on June 17, 1972. Five men were arrested in the act of breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington's Watergate hotel and office building. A few days later the participants the so-called "third rate burglary" were connected to E. Howard Hunt, a former White House aide, and to G. Gordon Liddy, general counsel for the Committee for the Reelection of President Nixon. Three months later, Liddy, Hunt, and the five burglars were indicted by a federal grand jury. Despite the linkages to his campaign, the president repeatedly denied any involvement tn the affair.
PRESIDENT NIXON: I was appalled at this senseless, illegal action.
CROWD SHOUTING: Four more years, four more years!
KWAME HOLMAN: That November President Nixon won reelection to the White House by a landslide. He was just settling into his second term when five of the break-in defendants pleaded guilty, and E. Howard Hunt and James Macord, a private investigator working for Hunt, were convicted by a federal court jury for their part in the burglary conspiracy. The judge was John J. Sirica. At sentencing, he read in open court a letter from Macord. It charged that witnesses in the burglary trial had committed perjury and that the White House was involved in a coverup of its connection to the break-in. Despite denials they had anything to do with it, four top Nixon aides were forced to resign. A special prosecutor was appointed to look into Watergate and a special Senate Investigative Committee undertook its own probe. Throughout the summer of 1973, dramatic televised hearings slowly began to draw out the truth. The Senate Committee's chairman was North Carolina's Sam Ervin, a conservative Democrat with a reputation for savvy wrapped in a country boy image. But the committee's ranking Republican, Howard Baker of Tennessee, crystallized the issue with one simple question.
FORMER SEN. HOWARD BAKER, Senate Watergate Committee: What did the president know and when did he know it?
KWAME HOLMAN: Gradually the affair unraveled, and it became increasingly clear that Nixon and his aides had broken one law after another to cover up their involvement. They paid "hush" money to keep it quiet. They tried to use the CIA to block the FBI's investigation. They invoked "national security" and "executive privilege" to shield themselves from the investigation. And they lied under oath to Congress.
H. R. HALDEMAN, Former Nixon Aide: President Nixon had no such knowledge of or involvement in--
KWAME HOLMAN: But the coverup began to fall apart when one of them, White House counsel John Dean, revealed his discussions with President Nixon.
JOHN DEAN, Former White House Counsel: I began by telling the president that there was a cancer growing on the presidency, and if the cancer was not removed, the president himself would be killed by it.
KWAME HOLMAN: But many on the committee and among the growing audience viewing the hearings were reluctant to believe the smooth- sounding Dean. Then, in mid July, came a critical break and a shocking disclosure.
THOMPSON: Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?
ALEXANDER P. BUTTERFIELD, Former Nixon Aide: I was aware of listening devices, yes sir.
KWAME HOLMAN: The committee issued a subpoena for tape recordings of White House conversations. President Nixon refused to honor the subpoena, citing executive privilege. A constitutional confrontation had begun.
FORMER SEN. SAM ERVIN, Chairman, Senate Watergate Committee: I deeply regret that this situation has arisen.
KWAME HOLMAN: For the first time in history, a committee of Congress took the President to court. In the bitter struggle for the tapes, the president ordered attorney general Elliot Richardson and his deputy William Ruckelshaus to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who led the quest for the tapes in court. They resigned rather than carry out the order. Mr. Nixon had Cox fired anyway. But the storm of public protest ultimately pressured Nixon into releasing some of the tapes to the new special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski. By the beginning of 1974, seven former presidential aides had been indicted and President Nixon was named as an unindicted co-conspirator. Newspaper editorials and members of Congress increased their calls for the president's impeachment. And in may, the House Judiciary Committee began formal impeachment proceedings.
FORMER REP. PETER RODINO, Chairman, Judiciary Committee: Make no mistake about it; this is a turning point, whatever we decide.
KWAME HOLMAN: On July 24th, across the street from the drama unfolding in Congress, the Supreme Court ordered Nixon to surrender all the tapes to the special prosecutor. Three days later, the House Judiciary Committee voted 27 to 11 to approve an article of impeachment charging Nixon with obstruction of justice. [taking vote] On August 5th, newly-released transcripts of the secret Oval Office tape recordings proved beyond a doubt Mr. Nixon, himself, had conspired in the coverup. Richard Nixon was finished and his friends in Congress went to the White House to tell him so. On August 8th, Richard Nixon resigned.
PRESIDENT NIXON: I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as President at that hour in this office.
KWAME HOLMAN: A month later, Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon "for all offenses against the United States which he has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974." Butmany of Nixon's closest aides, including the attorney general and the White House counsel, went to jail.
JIM LEHRER: Now the Watergate legacy from NewsHour regulars Presidential Historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Michael Beschloss; Journalist/Author Haynes Johnson; joined by two congressional participants in the Watergate saga: Former Republican Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee, who was vice chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee, and Congressman Charles Rangel, Democrat of New York, who served on the House Judiciary Committee, which voted the impeachment of Richard Nixon. Haynes, how would you explain the importance of Watergate?
HAYNES JOHNSON, Journalist/Author: I think it was the most important moment in national history for the political system in this century, Jim. And if you think back twenty-five years ago when it began and two short years later, that tumultuous two years when Richard Nixon was forced to resign on the threat of impeachment, and he did so, that night--I will never forget as long as I live- -you had a sense that every part of the system worked. The press did its job. It didn't solve the case or anything like that. The judges did their jobs. The grand jury did its jobs. The committee, Congress headed by people like Howard Baker and Sam Ervin did their jobs, and the public did its job, and the House Impeachment Committee did--with nobility and seriousness of purpose and the contrast today, twenty-five years later, when people have so much doubt and despair and cynicism about the way it works, we all remember that it did work in every element. That doesn't mean we don't have problems now, but that's what I think was important.
JIM LEHRER: Is that the most important thing, Senator, do you agree?
HOWARD BAKER, Senate Watergate Committee: Well, I think so. I think it was, indeed, a watershed time in American politics. And I guess I have to look back on it to realize how effective the system really was, but--
JIM LEHRER: You didn't feel that at the time?
HOWARD BAKER: No, I really didn't, but, you know, I was so caught up in the whole thing that I wasn't thinking ahead to consequences, and frankly, I was surprised when Nixon resigned. I had not thought it would come to that. I really didn't think it was going to come to impeachment. We were just tightly focused on trying to find out what really happened, but it did prove, I think, that the system worked. I think the system is stronger for it having worked, but it changed a lot of things in the system, in the country, in the press, and people's attitudes.
JIM LEHRER: Doris, what would you say if you had to list--give us your short list of the things you think it changed.
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, Presidential Historian: Well, you know, in some ways the irony is, though, that even though I agree that in many ways it was the success of the system, especially in the sense that here you had a President who had been elected by a landslide giving the office over to Mr. Ford, who hadn't had a single vote because he was an unexpected vice president, and, yet, there was no transition problem, the Marine band played for Mr. Ford as the new President. So it was a test that our system passed, but, in retrospect, I think what's happened as the result of that, rather than feeling good about the system, has been a great disillusionment. The combination, I think, of Vietnam, the credibility gap under Lyndon Johnson, and then Watergate, plus the three assassinations in the 1960's, means that we had a whole generation who grew up never knowing good things about government. What they knew are these crises, this sense of disillusionment, the fact that a President could be corrupted and have to resign from office, and they never knew that kind of idealism that the 60's had generated in that younger generation. The whole role of the press changed. They became investigative reporters, with Woodward & Bernstein as their heroes, rather than White House correspondents in the old days. The campaign finance thing changed. I mean, everything changed, and the net result was really looking at government in a more negative way and feeling a sense of disillusionment, rather than saying, yay, the system worked.
JIM LEHRER: Yeah. What were you saying, Charlie Rangel, yay, the system worked, or, oh, my goodness?
REP. CHARLES RANGEL, Judiciary Committee [1971-1974]: I was saying both. I was scared to death. I did not know the confidence or the strength of the Constitution. It really proved that we are strong people, a strong nation, and that document really works. And also I think the negative side is that the private life, private conversations of public officials, things that would never happen with Roosevelt, Kennedy, or Johnson, did happen with Nixon, and now I think there is a real different standard and a very low standard, I might add, of journalism feeling that they can do anything, which is low as the imaginary stories that are sometimes created by the supermarket papers, but the two year term is the one that really impressed me. Everyone, including me, thought that we needed more time in the House of Representatives, but after the Senate's televised hearings and the House Judiciary started televising those hearings, Tip O'Neill, the speaker at that time, came to our committee, and he said, the American people want you either to impeach the President or get off his back, and we're not going to have the House of Representatives pay the price at election time because you people aren't doing your job. And every weekend members would come and say, what's going on, and do your job and do it right, and do it without fear, but get on with it.
JIM LEHRER: Did you have some private fears that you couldn't pull it off, that the thing wasn't going to work, that the system was shaky, and something was going to give somewhere along the line?
REP. CHARLES RANGEL: Yes, but it wasn't because of anything that members were telling me was happening in their district or my constituents were telling me. It was eavesdropping on those White House conversations. We have a tendency in this country to believe those in high places are different than our next door neighbors, but to hear the President of the United States, the great spokesman, President Nixon, drinking and laughing and cursing and swearing, and here he is a world leader, but on the question of common theft and robbery he had nickel and dime values. And the people around him were frightened for themselves but also frightened for the nation. So when you hear General Haig saying what could happen in America if, indeed, the President was impeached, believing that they may have known more than I, it became frightening, but it really did show the American people are tough people, and they do believe in government, no matter what they say about it.
JIM LEHRER: Yeah. Do you agree with that, Michael, that it showed that the American people really do believe in their government, at least at that moment?
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian: I'm not so sure, to tell you the truth. I think that Watergate, as an investigation that got this President out of office,that was a great triumph. Nixon had lied. He had violated the law and the Constitution, and the system did work in removing him from the White House. The problem is that Watergate took something out of the presidency that I don't think has ever come back and perhaps never will. When I was growing up in the 1960's and early 70's, the President was someone that you held up as a model for everyone. Parents would say, you know, you should bring up your children to be like the President. The President is someone who basically tells the truth. There were exceptions to that in the 1960's, but that pretty much remained until 1972 and 1973. For two years we heard Richard Nixon over and over again saying, "I had no involvement in the Watergate coverup. This is the simple truth." Then we heard those tapes showing that that was an absolute lie and that this was someone who had violated the law. Ever since, to some extent, Presidents have been almost guilty until proven innocent. And to one extent or another, every President since Richard Nixon has been overshadowed by at least the possibility of a political scandal, sometimes used by their opponents. The presidency as a result is a weaker office, and it certainly doesn't have the moral authority that it once had before Richard Nixon came there.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL: I think the press has a lot to do with that. The press would not think about asking the questions of a Roosevelt and a Kennedy and a Johnson, and to think that today they're reporting allegations made that people know identifying remarks on the private parts of the President of the United States, those things are so disgusting that it's hard for any public official to be respected when the press really says that they're not entitled to any privacy.
JIM LEHRER: Sen. Baker, how do you feel about that? Has the presidency been permanently changed as a result of this? Do you agree with Michael?
HOWARD BAKER: Well, I do agree with Michael that it has changed. It is in the wake of Watergate and causally directly connected. But I don't think it's permanently changed. I think the real brilliance in the system, not to be overly philosophical, is that is so flexible and changes so much with circumstance of time that it adapts. And I think we'll adapt, and I think we'll have other Presidents who are national symbols, as well as great leaders. But there's one thing I'd like to add about whether or not we proved that the system really worked. Indeed, I think it did. But you know what I really think is that we proved the strength of the American political instinct. The American people decided how they're going to handle this thing.
JIM LEHRER: How did they decide? How did the people decide?
HOWARD BAKER: Who knows, but they did as a collective judgment. There's a collective wisdom in the country that says, yeah, this is the way it's supposed to be; we're sorry that this has all happened, but Jerry Ford is President, and we revere him for that. They went on with the political system. I spent 1974 traveling around the country, campaigning for Republicans, trying to convince the country they shouldn't blame the party. But they did blame the party, and we were turned down in wholesale numbers. But there's an old saying that, obviously, the American people are sovereign. They really make the final judgment. The saying is you can doubt the sovereign's judgment, but you can never doubt the sovereign's authority. Now, the American people decide how this is going to work. They decided during Watergate they had more to do--their native instinct for self-governance had more to do with us transitioning out of that time to a better time, without anything else, except the charter document.
JIM LEHRER: Because the way the public reacted to each step along the way? In other words, there was support when the press was doing thing, and there was support when your hearings came on; there was support from then to the very end, and they supported the resignation of the President.
HOWARD BAKER: It was not altogether intellectual exercise. It was sort of--it was sort of an empathetic understanding of what "we have to do as a country." People did it.
JIM LEHRER: Yes. Haynes, the press, Charlie Rangel's mentioned it several times and others have, that some people would say it was a great moment for the press but that others would say now it created this whole tribe of little Woodwards & Bernsteins trying to bring down Presidents ever since. Where do you come down on that?
HAYNES JOHNSON: I think they're right on both counts. [laughing] I mean, I think that--I think we started out--it was a magnificent cask of journalism by a couple of reporters who were just kids--weren't even known inside the White House, had no celebrity status--
JIM LEHRER: They were barely known at the "Washington Post."
HAYNES JOHNSON: And the "Washington Post," exactly, and all of that, and I think they did exactly what reporters are supposed to do, painstakingly seeking after fact, after fact. The stories were not elegantly written, but they were just there day after day, and the paper was--I was very proud to be associated at that time. It published them. But since then it has spawned something else that we're all kind of talking about, and this, this notion of destructiveness that we have had 25 years now of one gate after another--Peanutgate--Careergate--Irangate--you know--all the way through Iran--and right all the way into the present period where in the Clinton period it's just one after the other, and so the soubriquet or the appellation attached to it makes it all seem as if the political system is corrupted, and it also does influence those who think the way to make it is to get somebody. And I think that's the legacy that is very difficult in the climate we're now operating in.
JIM LEHRER: Would you buy that, Doris?
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: Well, I think what got off track is-- and I think it was a very healthy thing to have the rise of this investigative reporter--when you look at Roosevelt's time and when his health was so damaged in that last year of his life, there were no investigative reporters to tell the country this man was dying. We still might have voted for him anyway, but we should have known that. But then what happened is, as everybody wanted to go to journalism school and become Woodward & Bernstein, they attached their investigations to the private lives of our public figures. And they didn't have any relevant question as to whether those private lives had an impact on their leadership. So we started searching behind bushes for Gary Hart and his woman. Now we're in this adultery morass that we should never be in. So that the changes in the culture that had devalued privacy got attached to the newspaper. So it's not just spawning public scandals, which may be a good thing to spawn, but it's spawning this private investigation that I think has taken us down a terrible terrain. The only hope is maybe to go back to what Sen. Baker said. I have a feeling that the instincts of the public are beginning to tire of this stuff. And if they do, then the press might pull back a little bit.You never think it can go back in the bottle--the genie--but maybe it can; hopefully, it can; and we can respect that private lives still matter in our society.
JIM LEHRER: You're nodding. You think you can put this back, Michael?
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: I do. And history tells us it can. You know, there's always a cycle and the pendulum always swings back. And I think the most hopeful thing is that people after a while will begin to reach the saturation point and think that they are learning too much, and perhaps it is driving down the currency of a society, and they'll demand to know, I think, perhaps more substantive things about their leaders. But at the same time this is all a reaction to the fact that before Richard Nixon, perhaps the press was not investigative enough, perhaps was not intrusive enough. If we had known a lot more about Richard Nixon's character and even some of his private decision-making in 1968 and 1972, when he ran for election, that second term, if we had known more about Watergate, 61 percent of the American people would not have resoundingly sent him back for a second term.
JIM LEHRER: Congressman Rangel, what effect has it had on you and others who offer yourself for public office, Watergate?
REP. CHARLES RANGEL: Well, I've been in public office since the invention of water, so--[laughter among group]--there's really nothing that I can do. But I know one thing--that I would never encourage my son or anyone that I love to go into this without thinking that their private life will be exposed--not so much their own--but their children and their wives. I mean, what President Clinton is going through for something that happened years ago-- and yes, I blame the press, but we all are just so susceptible to gossip and hearing things that we shouldn't hear. It was the Watergate tapes--you know, we didn't have to know that our President was a drinking, common man, and thinking about these common criminal things--it doesn't help us. It doesn't help America to fly a bomber that from here on in any promotions that you get in the military we have to review ten, fifteen, twenty years back as to whether you committed an indiscretion. So as far as I'm concerned public life--and I've had the best of it--and I've enjoyed it--and I've never been a victim of anything bad in the press, so I don't have any personal feelings against it--but it's just not fair to those who want to serve to go through what happens at these hearings in the Senate, and I think--and I don't see how it can be repaired, because people like to know things that they shouldn't know, and it becomes a part of the job, and it's not worth it.
JIM LEHRER: Is it a good part of the life now, Senator? Is it part of being a public figure, part of being in politics, part of being in the press, are we all part of something that we can't change?
HOWARD BAKER: No. I think we can change it. But I think the country will change it for us because I agree with Doris, I guess, who said that the country may be sort of--
JIM LEHRER: Sick of it?
HOWARD BAKER: --super soaked with all this. I respect Charlie, and I've been friends a long time, but I want to disagree on this. If I were giving advice to my son and daughter, which I'm not-- they've long since outgrown that--I would say, look, you know, consider public service. I think it's the highest secular calling you can engage yourself in. And it's just tough as it can be. But I--you know, my greatest fear is that all of this, whether it's press or the Watergate experience, or whatever it may be, that young people be so turned off that the right ones won't try to serve--not their whole life maybe but for a while. I think that's almost an obligation.
JIM LEHRER: One of our senior producers, Jeff Brown, in discussing this at our editorial meeting, said, "I was 18 years old when Watergate happened. That was my first awareness of the government of the United States." And it affected the way he thinks about government.
JIM LEHRER: What would you--what would you say to him, Doris?
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: Well, you know, I would say that the other part of it is suppose you are a person who grew up with World War II as your dominant experience, or the Civil Rights movement of the late 50's and the 60's, and that says that government could be a positive force to move society forward toward justice, to defeat the Nazi power. I mean, it's a cycle that it's true. This generation has not seen that other side of government. It's still inherent in human nature. We still have people who could be great leaders. You've got to believe that. You've got to believe in that kind of resiliency. And some good things did come out of Watergate. I think what we're forgetting, those campaign finance reforms that took place as a result of Watergate have allowed us to know publicly what people are doing much more than we ever knew before. I think even though there's more scandal now because we know more, it's cleaner than it probably was ever before. So you've just got to tell a young person, yes, it does seem like we've gone through a trough, but there's a basic resilience in human nature. I keep believing, as you all know, that the Red Sox will win the World Series someday. I've got to believe in our country too.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL: --I should have added that I would have hoped that my son, who I love so much, would not take my advice. I would be so proud of him if he did enter public service. And I do encourage people to do it, but when there's--when I start talking about the dangers in invasion of privacy, it's then that- -I'm not proud of myself but I just wonder about it.
JIM LEHRER: Michael.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Well, I was reminded that one of the witnesses in the hearings, a young man named Gordon Strong, was--someone who got caught up in the Nixon administration's experience in Watergate--was asked, "What advice would you give to other young people, given the fact that you've been through this trauma?". And he said, "The advice I would give them is stay away from government." And I remember even at the time thinking that was in such counterpoint to the idealists who worked for John Kennedy, or the people who sailed balloons for Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. That has really not lifted from us. The other perhaps unintended consequence was that we for two years in Watergate had a big display of what can happen to government and leaders if they are untrammeled, and bizarrely enough, that, to some extent, opened the way for some of the anti-government of the conservatives in the late 70's and the 1980's, because their argument was government is an evil that has to be limited. And those ideas began to connect and so Watergate had an unintended consequence that perhaps we didn't see at the time.
JIM LEHRER: Haynes, finally, what would you advise young people about journalism as a result of--
HAYNES JOHNSON: Best job in the world. I'm serious about that, if the job is to try to determine the truth, and you go after it, and you do it fairly, and you try to do it fairly, and you shouldn't be opening the doors and looking. I mean, there's a division between private and public that shouldn't be there. But the enormous opportunity to try to explain our country to each other I think is even more important in today's world for journalists.
JIM LEHRER: And you would say Watergate, that part of Watergate--
HAYNES JOHNSON: That was the good part. That was the way we should do it.
JIM LEHRER: All right. Well, we'll leave it there. Doris, gentlemen, thank you all very much. FOCUS - BAR NONE
JIM LEHRER: Still to come on the NewsHour tonight 25 years of Title IX and a conversation with Robert Hughes. Title IX is the name of the Civil Rights Act prohibiting gender discrimination at any school that receives federal funds. Today's White House ceremony celebrated the law and the women who benefitted from it. Not all of them were athletes. The law applies to all school programs, but Title IX has had its most visible impact on men's and women's athletic programs. Elizabeth Brackett of WTTW-Chicago reports.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: The female athletes who dominated the 1996 Olympics were dubbed "the offspring of Title IX," and 25 years after the historic legislation banning gender discrimination in education was passed, women's participation in college sports has quadrupled.
SPOKESPERSON: Welcome on behalf of the Women's Sports Foundation- -
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Donna Lopiano heads the Women's Sports Foundation. She says the 25 years since Title IX have brought tremendous change.
DONNA LOPIANO, Women's Sports Foundation: Now, when you look at high school girls, one out of every three high school girls plays varsity sports statistically. That means we've come halfway there. We're getting half the opportunities that boys are. And it's still not there, but, boy, has there been a lot of progress.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: To prove that women athletes are being given an equal opportunity, schools must meet one of these three conditions: Proportionality: The percentage of female athletes should come within 5 percent of the percentage of female undergraduates in that student body. Expansion: There must be a history as well as a future plan to expand opportunities for women athletes. Opportunity: Schools must show they are providing enough sports to meet the interests of female athletes. Last weekend, Indiana University took the unusual step of honoring its three Title IX athletes. Ninety women athletes returned to Indiana to claim a varsity letter for sports some had competed in as long as 60 years ago. Letters were handed out by athletic director Clarence Doninger.
CLARENCE DONINGER: The athletics committee enthusiastically endorsed what we're doing here tonight. I know we've been slow in doing it but sometimes it takes us a little while to catch up.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Former diver Cynthia Potter was thrilled to be collecting her "I" award. Potter had already won a national championship when she came to Indiana in 1972. She subsequently won 27 more national champsionships, qualified for three Olympic teams, and won a Bronze Olympic Medal in 1976. Yet, Potter, like all other pre-Title IX female athletes, could not compete for Indiana University or get a scholarship.
CYNTHIA POTTER, Former Indiana University Diver: I can't believe that I finally got a collegiate letter. I never thought--I never dreamed--I never really even hoped for it when I went to college. So, you know, it's never about what we did, but tonight, getting a letter is something that makes me really proud of the fact that I competed collegiately and I was able to do something that I never dreamed that i would be allowed to do. So this really sort of completes an experience for me.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Fellow diver, Olympic Gold Medal winner Lesley Bush, was equally pleased.
LESLEY BUSH, Former Indiana University Diver: It was about 32 years ago that I want the Olympic Gold Medal. And I won it before I came here. It's what happened here that was from '65 to '70 that was exciting also for me. And now that I have gotten a letter from IU, one I never thought that I would get, I sort of feel like I should go back and tell my daughter about it and maybe some of my students at high school, at the high school where I teach.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: With Bush and Potter at the awards ceremony, their coach, Hobie Billingsley. A highly successful men's coach, now retired, Billingsley was one of the first coaches in the country to coach women on the collegiate level. Among his divers, this correspondent.
SPOKESMAN: Elizabeth Everett Brackett.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: It was a thrill. Billingsley began coaching women at Indiana in 1960, even though they couldn't compete for the university. He remembers the reaction of swimming coach Dr. James Counselman.
HOBIE BILLINGSLEY, Former Indiana University Diving Coach: When we walked in the pool with Dr. Counselman, he says, "What are you doing with those girls in here?". I says, "Well, I'm going to coach them." He says, "Not in this pool you're not. Get 'em out of here." So I took 'em in during my lunch hour when he wasn't around and I went 17 years and coached girls for nothing.
HOBIE BILLINGSLEY: Because they wouldn't pay me. Because they paid me for boys but they didn't pay me for girls, and I wanted to see girls have the opportunity. So it was upon my responsibility--upon me to do that.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: An opportunity Potter says she was grateful for. Even though there were no intercollegiate meets or scholarships, Potter is far from bitter.
CYNTHIA POTTER: I like to think that maybe there was some ground that my teammates and I covered that sort of set the stage for what's happening now, but I have no resentment. I only have gratitude for the place where, you know, I got to be, and maybe the place where women are today.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Compared to Potter's era, women athletes are in great shape at Indiana today. Female divers have a full intercollegiate schedule and just as many scholarships as the male divers. Even more astonishing, female basketball players are allotted 15 scholarships, while IU's famed basketball coach Bobby Knight has only 12 scholarships to hand out to the men. Today's female athletes take scholarships for granted.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: What do you think Title IX does?
SUMMER MAINES, IU Basketball Player: Title IX helps to provide scholarships for women athletes, I believe.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Are you on a scholarship?
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: And would you have considered going to a school that didn't give you a scholarship?
SUMMER MAINES: No. [laughing]
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: How many schools did you talk to?
SUMMER MAINES: I've talked to five schools in the end, but several more were writing me in the beginning.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: And with the new WNBA, the Women's National Basketball Association, due to start its season this month, the opportunities for women continue to grow.
SUMMER MAINES: It makes a major difference because now you know that you have somethin'--you can play after college. It's not just where I go to college, play, they pay my way to school, and then I'm done. Now you can go up to the league like the men.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Despite the gains made under Title IX, in intercollegiate athletics today for every $1 that is spent on a female athlete, $3 is spent on a male athlete. And a recent "USA Today" survey found that only seven Division 1 schools met the Title IX standards for gender equity. Indiana, like most Division 1A schools with big football programs, falls short in the proportionality test. 54 percent of the undergraduates are women, 36 percent of the school's athletes are women. In hard numbers, men receive $2 million in scholarship aid. Women receive half that, $1.2 million. Nationally, women make up 50 percent of the full-time undergraduates at Division 1A schools. But only 34 percent of those who compete in sports are women. Athletic director Doninger says Indiana is working towards equality.
CLARENCE DONINGER, IU Athletic Director: Quite frankly, we're being told that we've got to. You know, society is telling us, Title IX is telling us that we've got to make that push, so we accept that. You know, I accept it, No. 1, because the legal ramifications, and, No. 2, I look at it as a desirable goal. The reason it's a little difficult to get there is because of football. Football we have these huge numbers, huge dollars. They also bring in huge dollars, and there isn't a sport on the women's side that's comparable in terms of numbers.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Like all Division 1A schools, IU offers 85 football scholarships. There are 112 roster spots for football. To add more slots for women, IU has added women's soccer, water polo, and plans to add field hockey. That should bring the school into compliance with Title IX by showing a history and a plan for expanding opportunities. But even strong supporters of female athletes worry about what this will do to men's sports in a time of tight budgets.
HOBIE BILLINGSLEY: What they do is they keep adding more programs for the women and they're decreasing them, the number of programs for men in the non-revenue sports. The non-revenue sports just get nailed in this situation. The atheltic directors are aware of it, but no one is doing anything about it. And they probably won't.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: What do you thinlk should happen?
HOBIE BILLINGSLEY: Well, they should eliminate the 85 scholarships for men in football because it's a business. It's not sports; it's a business. Everyone knows that.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: But Lopiano says schools can comply with Title IX and keep football scholarships in the equation.
DONNA LOPIANO: Let's say football, instead of having 85 scholarships, has 60 scholarships, right, and you can take the 60 scholarships, and you can spread them among the same number of players. How's football going to change? The same players are going to the schools, but instead of some players, even the 85th player, getting a full grant, he never got a chance to play anyway--I mean, you know, he was on the third string-instead of him getting the full scholarship, maybe he gets a partial. So there are ways to keep football strong and any--you would always want to keep any revenue producing program as strong as it could be, but also comply with the law.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Indiana says it hopes to achieve equity in men's and women's sports programs by 2004. Associate IU athletic director Isabella Hutchison, creator of the IU awards ceremony and a recipient herself, has her fingers crossed.
ISABELLA HUTCHISON, IU Associate Athletic Director: I would hope within the next 10 years we could see really a bigboom for the women, and, you know, I hope it don't take another 25 years.
ELIZABETH BRACKETT: Last week, the National Women's Law Center filed complaints against 25 schools, accusing them of discriminating against female athletes in scholarship funding. The law center hopes the complaints will speed up the process of achieving gender equity in women's intercollegiate sports. CONVERSATION - AMERICAN VISIONS
JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight, the story of American art as told by Time Magazine's Robert Hughes. Paul Solman of WGBH-Boston has that story.
PAUL SOLMAN: For nearly 30 years Robert Hughes has been Time Magazine's art critic. Born and schooled in Australia, he began writing there and in England before being recruited by Time in 1970. In 1981, Hughes established himself as one of the country's top art explainers, with his book and TV series on "Modernism: The Shock of the New." He's written several books since, including a bestseller on his native Australia, The Fatal Shore. Now he's back on the air with an eight-part PBS series and a 620 page tome on the history of art in the United States, "American Visions." We talked to him at Washington's National Museum of American Art, part of the Smithsonian Institution.
PAUL SOLMAN: Mr. Hughes, welcome.
ROBERT HUGHES, Time Magazine: Thank you.
PAUL SOLMAN: You say in your introduction " What can we say about Americans from the things and images they have made?". That's the central question.
PAUL SOLMAN: What can we say?
ROBERT HUGHES: I knew that you were going to ask me that. It took me 600 pages to give some sort of answer to it. There are a lot of possible answers. You know, the--I mean, one of the things that you find out about Americans is despite the absence of religious--the extraordinary tenacity and primacy of religion in American life and how that has affected the way that it's apt to bill it. One of the things you also find out is about that, you know, durable passion for the new, which was implanted here by the Puritans and has been here ever since.
PAUL SOLMAN: We create ourselves.
ROBERT HUGHES: Americans are constantly recreating themselves. They are constantly thinking in terms of newness as a regulating factor in a culture in the way that Europeans thought of antiquity. You know, the--this, after all, is the only major culture in the world that was predicated upon the idea of newness right from the start. The Puritans wanted to make a new heaven and a new earth, and this desire was transposed into landscape, into technology, into--practically everything.
PAUL SOLMAN: Give me an example, if you would, of that early recreation of ourselves or creation of ourselves religiously, let's say.
ROBERT HUGHES: Well, the idea that you redeem yourself from the sins of Europe; that you can leave the past behind, while at the same time bringing elements of culture, its cultural baggage with you, is very important to Americans. I mean, the Puritans thought that they could do it by, you know, by means of the religious revolution. Then when it became apparent that the--there was this immense field outside of the coastal settlement into which Americans, into which new Americans could move, which they could conquer, dominate, appropriate, and displace the original inhabitants of, there was this almost religious search for the image of landscape, you know, for the discovery of the image of God in the landscape, and, as it were, the appropriation of divine will into human will. This--it goes through and through the paintings of the 19th century,and, you know, you might say that landscape painting is the great religious art form of America. And it became so really as early as the 1820's with Thomas Coe. The reason why the wilderness has always played such a vast part in the American imagination is not just because it was there. It's because the constructions that European Americans made of it.
PAUL SOLMAN: I was struck by your using an Amish quilt as an example of another theme of sort of the American--another American vision.
ROBERT HUGHES: Very much so because--I mean, here we're dealing with the kind of speech which is very pragmatic, very abstract at the same time, useful but entirely abstract, non-referential, and these big Lancaster quilts are the first great abstract works of art made by Americans in America. But the thing is that they're both remarkable as art and remarkable to the extent to which they avoid any reference to showiness. They don't want to be worldly, even in their furniture and possessions.
PAUL SOLMAN: Another theme that I see in both the series and the book is this theme of sort of--or rather obviously, I guess, democracy.
ROBERT HUGHES: Yes. Yes. How do you find the images that express democracy in the first democracy in the world, the first major democracy in the world? It has to be invented. It has to be invented on the basis of classical antiquity in this case. Jefferson believed, as did the other Founding Fathers, that the right true model for the American republic was the Roman republic, not the Roman empire, which they associated with King George III and all the vileness issued therefrom, but there were going to be Brutuses, there were going to be Catos, and they wanted an architecture that was appropriate to that--plain, straightforward, old, and new because it was old, you know, in short, the federal style. And the--America has been very much preoccupied by the invention of tradition in that way. It had--
PAUL SOLMAN: You know, I think about the theme of democracy, and there's one picture that you spent a lot of time on--Benjamin West picture of General Wolfe--
PAUL SOLMAN: --dying as sort of instant history.
ROBERT HUGHES: It's instant history but then of course it's the first significant history painting done by an American, not of an American subject, actually, of an Anglo-Canadian one. But the mere fact that West chose to put all the people in that painting in modern--for him modern dress, the garb of the 1760's, was considered revolutionary in England, because the tradition in the history painting was to dress up the noble protagonist in Roman or Greek costume, you know, a toga, a key top, a peplu, and to have these figures in the military uniform they actually wore struck people as a strange sort of pragmatic American plain-speech intrusion, but it influenced an awful lot of painters and led to the kind of history painting that would be predominant by the 1800's.
PAUL SOLMAN: After all of this, the 600 and some odd pages of the eight-part series, which American visions are you most struck by, or is that a fair question?
ROBERT HUGHES: I'll tell you, look, there have been these-- broadly speaking--these two strands. One is a kind of empirical, pragmatic realism that starts with John Singleton Copley, really, I mean, its roots lie further back in craftsmanship, in future, and what have you. And you get it in Audubon. You get it in Aikins. You get it in Homer. You get it all the way through to Stuart Davis and beyond. You know, plain speech, you know, not over fussed materials, you know, the American gray. And the other one is this tendency towards a curious, sometimes rather inflated mysticism that begins really on the shores of the Hudson River and they--and painters like Church and which goes again right through, you get it in O'Keefe, you get it in Mileston Hartly, you get it in Mark Rothko, for instance, and that too goes through. Now, there are many other interweaving factors, but those seem to me to be too sort of main lines that are distinctly American .
PAUL SOLMAN: How do America's visions stack up against other cultures? After all, you were steeped in Italian art before you came--
ROBERT HUGHES: Yes. I was steeped in Italian art. I had my motorcycle and saw as much of it as I could for three years. The- -well, look, it's obvious, I think, you know, that if you add up the total--you know, if you could add up the total of American art, it wouldn't, you know, stack up against what was achieved in France in the 19th century, let alone what was achieved in Italy between, you know, the 1200's and the 1700's. That's not the point really. The point is to examine what is distinctive about America, you know, to sort of try and see American material in its own quality, which is very often a lot higher than people think. I mean, when I first came here, there was this idea current in the art world that American art only came of age after the Second World War with abstract expressionism, you know, Winsl Homer were creeping around like a larva so that Jackson Pollack could distend his wings and be a butterfly. This is rubbish. You know--since Copley America has consistently produced really deeply interesting and sometimes pretty profound and very good artists.
PAUL SOLMAN: So, okay, then how do we, the American audience stack up against others?
ROBERT HUGHES: Oh, well, much--I mean, I think the American audience is infinitely more aware, conscious of, and interested in art than, you know, your average French or dare I say English audience.
PAUL SOLMAN: Even though in 1962 when the Mona Lisa comes to New York, according to your book, it's .79 seconds that the typical person spends in front of it in New York?
ROBERT HUGHES: .79 seconds, yes. Well, that was the first run picture blockbuster, as it were. That wasn't through the choice of the people who were seeing it. It was the primitive efforts at audience management that the museums were making. I mean, that was truly--I mean, that was a farcical episode, because what happened was that the Kennedys decided it was time to have the world's two most famous babes in the same room at the same time--Jackie and Mona, you know.
PAUL SOLMAN: But we remain an audience that are attuned--
ROBERT HUGHES: Yes. I mean, look, more people go to museums than go to college football association games.
PAUL SOLMAN: You end the book and the series with a very grim quote from Yeats about--the best--
ROBERT HUGHES: "The best are full of conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."
PAUL SOLMAN: Right. Does it depress you that that's your assessment of the American scene these days?
ROBERT HUGHES: Well, I think American culture has been vastly damaged by, you know, by the sort of trivial fanaticism of its culture wars, you know, over the last few years, the so-called culture wars. I don't think this is a great time for American painting or sculpture. There are some very, very good artists out there at work. But what you have to remember is this is not, you know, this is not tragic. I mean, cultures do, you know, run out of steam occasionally. And American writing is very good, if you can generalize in this way. The--you know, there are troughs. It's not one great ascending Eagle-like curve the way that people used to think it was. No culture is like that.
PAUL SOLMAN: Well, Robert Hughes, thank you very much.
ROBERT HUGHES: Thank you very much.
JIM LEHRER: The final two hours of "American Visions" can be seen on most PBS stations tomorrow night. RECAP
JIM LEHRER: Again, the major stories of this Tuesday, there were two 25th anniversary observations. One was the burglary that became Watergate. The other was the enactment of the Title IX law banning discrimination against women in education and athletic programs. And the FBI said the man wanted for the 1993 shooting outside the CIA was in custody in Virginia. The suspect was delivered to U.S. authorities overseas by Afghan individuals. We'll see you online and again here tomorrow evening. I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
Producing Organization
NewsHour Productions
Contributing Organization
NewsHour Productions (Washington, District of Columbia)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/507-319s17t783).
Episode Description
This episode's headline: Turning Point; Bar None; American Visions. ANCHOR: JIM LEHRER; GUESTS: MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, Presidential Historian; DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, Presidential Historian; HAYNES JOHNSON, Journalist/Author; HOWARD BAKER, Senate Watergate Committee; REP. CHARLES RANGEL, Judiciary Committee [1971-1974]; ROBERT HUGHES, Time Magazine; CORRESPONDENTS: KWAME HOLMAN; ELIZABETH BRACKETT; PAUL SOLMAN;
Asset type
Social Issues
Global Affairs
Politics and Government
Copyright NewsHour Productions, LLC. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License (
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: NewsHour Productions
AAPB Contributor Holdings
NewsHour Productions
Identifier: NH-5852 (NH Show Code)
Format: Betacam
Generation: Preservation
Duration: 01:00:00;00
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” 1997-06-17, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 14, 2024,
MLA: “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” 1997-06-17. NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 14, 2024. <>.
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