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Newsroom/World View

NEWSROOM for September 29, 2000

Aired September 29, 2000 - 4:30 a.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: NEWSROOM rolls into Friday. Thanks for joining us. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Let's get started with a look at the rundown.

The discussion over the debates tops the show.


HOWARD KURTZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As Al Gore and George W. Bush prepare for next week's debate, everyone -- that is, all the pundits and prognosticators who dispense the conventional wisdom -- knows what to expect.


BAKHTIAR: Moving on to "Editor's Desk," we look at Hollywood's history of portraying presidents on the big screen.

Don't move. "Worldview" is staying put in Los Angeles as we check out the city's diversity.

The City of Angels is also the place we'll find Bel Hernandez. We'll profile this mover and shaker in "Chronicle."

In today's news, the U.S. presidential election. It's now just six weeks away and the candidates are gearing up for a series of crucial debates. So far, the race for the White House has been mostly neck-and-neck, but the upcoming debates could give either candidate a chance to pull ahead.

Howard Kurtz has a preview of what the pundits will be watching for.


KURTZ (voice-over): As Al Gore and George W. Bush prepare for next week's debate, everyone -- that is, all the pundits and prognosticators who dispense the conventional wisdom -- knows what to expect. Gore's a world-class debater, Bush is a tongue-tied amateur, Gore's got a huge advantage. So the candidates are engaged in the time-honored ritual of lowering expectations for themselves and building up the other guy. The perception of Gore as a great debater?

VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think that's way overdone. I'll just do my best to debate as well as I can.

KURTZ: How about his opponent?

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, I want to debate the man. Now, I understand he's a great debater.

KURTZ: But the conventional wisdom can oversimplify things. Bush clearly held his own in 1994 when he ran against popular Texas Governor Ann Richards.

BUSH: It's preposterous for the governor to say that my programs cost $17 billion.

KURTZ: Some Texas journalists weren't convinced. An "Austin American Statesman" columnist said, quote, "Richards demonstrated that she's broader, deeper and smarter than Bush." But the voters went with George W.

Fast forward to Bush's first presidential debate in New Hampshire late last year. He was hesitant and rusty, and it showed.

QUESTION: Can you tell us, sir, what do you read every day?

BUSH: What do I read?

QUESTION: What do you read for information?

BUSH: Well, I read the newspaper.

KURTZ: The pundits were harsh.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, POLITICAL ANALYST, ABC NEWS: Bush didn't lose the debate, but he wasn't a commanding presence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wasn't that impressive.

KURTZ: But bush improved with practice. And by the time he took on John McCain 10 weeks later, he had learned how to throw a punch.

BUSH: Well, I'm just saying, you can disagree on issues, we'll debate issues, but whatever you do, don't equate my integrity and trustworthiness to Bill Clinton. That's about as low a blow as you can give in the Republican primary.

KURTZ: And besides, the low expectations for Bush could turn out to be a hidden advantage, as they were for another Western challenger deemed to have a shaky grasp of facts and figures.




KURTZ: What about Gore? He may have a reputation for being quick on his feet, but in their '92 debate, Vice President Quayle kept him off balance.


DAN QUAYLE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope that when you talked to those people you said, and the first thing that Bill Clinton and I are going to do is raise $150 billion in new taxes.

GORE: You got that wrong, too.

QUAYLE: And the first -- that is part of your plan, $150 billion...

GORE: No, it's not.

QUAYLE: You know what you're doing, you know what you're doing? You're pulling a Clinton.


KURTZ: Quayle didn't win the debate, but Gore fell short of the media's expectations.

Gore's best moment in a national debate came a year later when the new vice president tangled with Ross Perot over the NAFTA agreement on "LARRY KING LIVE."


GORE: I don't know of any single individual who lobbied the Congress more than you did, or people on your behalf did, to get tax breaks for your companies. And it's legal, it's legal.


GORE: You didn't lobby the Ways and Means Committee for tax breaks for yourself and your companies?

PEROT: What do you have in mind? What are you talking about?


KURTZ: It was a knockout for Gore, said "USA Today." Quote: "That giant sucking sound was the whoosh of the Texan's credibility going down the tubes."

And during this year's primaries, Gore seemed to enjoy roughing up Bill Bradley.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 21) GORE: You know, I think it's pretty clear what's going on, Bill. You're sounding a little desperate because you're trying to build yourself up by tearing everybody else down. It's very clear.


KURTZ: Gore easily defeated Bradley, but also got a reputation as something of an attack dog.

(on camera): The minute the Boston debate ends, the commentators and columnists and surrogates and spinners will be all over the airwaves to tell us who won. But that will be up to the viewing audience, who may not need any expert guidance.

Unless half the country decides to watch baseball instead, this could be the biggest moment of the campaign for Gore and Bush, at least until the media start cranking things up for the next debate eight days later.

This is Howard Kurtz, of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."


BAKHTIAR: We'll just have to wait until Tuesday to see what happens.

In the meantime, we've got some more expert analysis, this time from a group of college students who've been following the campaign and are weighing in with some advice of their own.


PROFESSOR LENNY STEINHORN, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: The debates that are coming up. This is seen as the big event of the campaign. Are there going to be certain issues that are going to be more prominent in the debates, and if so what are they going to be arguing about with those issues? -- Chris.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As much as we talk about the issues, the important images that come out of the debates are the one-liners. And Reagan was a master of that with...


REAGAN: I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I will not exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lloyd Bentsen's comment to Dan Quayle.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But when I think of a debate, I think 1976. You know, Ford didn't know what -- that Eastern Europe was under communist domination.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best thing that both candidates could do is watch Bill Clinton, tapes of Bill Clinton debate. Had the visual images, you know, with his hand thing and the tongue in his lip. And then he'd come out and knew all the details of his policies. And, you know, he got out from behind the podium. And if he didn't know the answer, he'd sit there and think about it for 10 seconds.

STEINHORN: But what does Bush have to communicate about his candidacy in this debate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This idea of compassionate conservatism, that you actually do care about the problems and are willing to solve it. It's something important that Bush has to project through verbal, and a lot of emphasis should be placed on nonverbal.

STEINHORN: Nonverbal cues, the sympathetic look. OK, right -- Karen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think, additionally, he needs to show that he knows what he's talking about and that he knows the plan backwards and forwards. And if he gives off like an aura of confidence, it will be very beneficial to him.

STEINHORN: Let's switch to Gore. What does Gore have to accomplish during -- in this debate? I mean, you know, what does Gore have to communicate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He needs to come off as authentic and genuine. I think a lot of times when you watch him speaking in front of audiences, he comes off as like very scripted, like you can tell where his sound bites are supposed to come from. I think that the American people want to see him, you know, really address issues in a genuine way.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We keep saying, oh, it's a game, you got to play the game, and it's exactly what the game is: You know, who can spin what better? Who can make, you know, themselves look better? And who can do a better job of dressing up their deficiencies and trumping up their better qualities? I think that's what it basically will come down to.


BAKHTIAR: Our "Daily Desk" each Friday examines the ways in which humans communicate ideas to one another, whether it's through the arts, literature, culture, social interaction or the media. Today we look at how U.S. presidents have used the media to get their message to the people.

Now, we know you've seen plenty of President Clinton on T.V., but many think of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the first real media president. He pioneered the regular use of radio for his "fireside chats" in 1933. And he was the first president to use television for a national address, which was carried on NBC in 1939, the broadcast of the opening of the New York World's Fair.

Perhaps since that day, media and presidents have never been quite the same, as the media now have their interpretation of U.S. presidents.

Michael Okwu reports on how the two mingle.


MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bill Clinton may be seen as Hollywood's president, but he was never alone. Over the years, Tinseltown's inaugurated a modest Henry Fonda...


HENRY FONDA, ACTOR: I'm plain Abraham Lincoln.


OKWU: ... a mindless Peter Sellers...


PETER SELLERS, ACTOR: You mean people could actually stay down there for a hundred years?


OKWU: ... and a macho Harrison Ford, varying depictions of presidents that film expert Glenn Kenny says reflect...

GLENN KENNY, FILM EXPERT: One is the way things are in the country. Two is the way movie makers see things as they are in the country and the way they want things to be.

OKWU: During the Depression era, films like John Ford's "Young Mr. Lincoln" took a reverential view of the president, in this case a president to be. In "Gabriel Over the White House," a president survives an accident, is visited by a spirit and becomes something of a quasi-fascist dictator.

KENNY: Lining up criminals against walls and shooting them down, and so on and so forth. And this is depicted in the movie as kind of a good thing; this is a great idea. Certainly, in a picture like "Gabriel Over the White House" was spurred on by the fact that nothing was being done about the Great Depression.

But Hollywood's agenda was not quite so easily defined at the time as it was -- as it would be in films that came in more turbulent eras to come.

OKWU: Cold War tensions in the '60s produced Hollywood presidents like the dottering Merkin Muffley in "Dr. Strangelove."

KENNY: These were times of enormous, enormous insecurity and anxiety.

OKWU: Films like "All The President's Men," "Nashville" and "Taxi Driver," post-Watergate movies, referred more to politics in general than to presidents.

KENNY: It's almost as if the presidency itself was so corrupt or such a completely wretched and useless institution that it wasn't even worth depicting in any concrete way.

OKWU: But that all changed in the last two decades of the century.

KENNY: You've seen in the past 20 years or so a certain Hollywoodization of the presidency between the real-life presidency of Ronald Reagan, a former movie actor, and the presidency of Bill Clinton, who is, you know, charismatic enough to be compared to Elvis.

OKWU: No wonder the flattering presidential depictions in "The American President," in "Dave," and in "Air Force One" with Harrison Ford.

KENNY: You know, kicking terrorist butt on his plane.

OKWU: One can only wonder what the next four years will bring.


BAKHTIAR: In "Worldview" today, we spotlight diversity. One city facing the challenges of diversity in a big way, Los Angeles, California in the United States. You'll discover how many nationalities live in the city and how many different languages are spoken there. Get ready with a guess. More diversity in Australia, a country working to attract students from around the world, and attracting tourists as well.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: Australia is home to the Great Barrier Reef, a chain of more than 2,500 reefs and the largest coral reef in the world. The reefs and small islands extend for about 1,250 miles, or about 2,010 kilometers along Australia's northeastern coast. Four hundred species of corals of different shapes and colors provide a spectacular underwater refuge for sea life, and they attract divers from around the world.

But our odyssey today takes us not into the sea, but up above the Land Down Under. The bridge climb over Sydney Harbor is one of Australia's most popular and most talked about tourist attractions.

But it's not for everyone, as Carolyn O'Neil explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CAROLYN O'NEIL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Built in 1932, the Sydney Harbor Bridge is a dramatic sight, with graceful steel girders arching 440 feet above the water below.

The bird's-eye view via helicopter is thrilling, but a closer look along the top shows you there are people up there. As I was about to find out, they climbed over 1,300 steps to join this adventure.

It all begins with a breathalyzer test.

(on camera): I passed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course you did.

O'NEIL (voice-over): Other safety measures: special gray suits to minimize distracting drivers below, and harnesses with safety latches, which attach to lines on the bridge. Even hats are secured.

Groups are led along a catwalk under the bridge and then the ascent. An amazing view of the harbor and the opera house awaits climbers coming up steep ladders -- that is if they can take their eyes off the steps.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You hear so much about it, you just want to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is great, ain't it? Hi, mom. Don't worry. I'll be home safe, I promise.

O'NEIL: The remaining trip is as easy as climbing stairs, built originally for workers who maintain the bridge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the great thing about coming up here is that the further up you get, the more spectacular the view becomes.

O'NEIL (on camera): It is a spectacular view. I think we can see all of Sydney, Australia. And I can't believe I did it. We're at the top.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations. Well done.

O'NEIL: Now, are you're going to tell me that going down is the hardest part?

(voice-over): Climb leaders photograph triumphant groups, followed by a round of celebratory cheers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is fantastic. I climbed my bridge.

O'NEIL: They'll see that you don't need nerves of steel to walk into the sky above Sydney and the top of the Harbor Bridge.

Carolyn O'Neil, CNN, Sydney, Australia.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ANDY JORDAN, CO-HOST: Tourists aren't the only ones flocking to Australia. It's a growing destination for students. Australia has 33 universities, a big draw for students from around the globe. More on that in a minute. But first, did you know that going to school can be a challenge for children in the remote areas of the outback? Because of that, many children in these isolated regions get their education at home by means of correspondence schools or schools on television. It gives a whole new meaning to homework.

Meantime, Australia is working to entice more international students into the country. Experts say the learning experience goes both ways.


MELISSA HENG, CHANNEL NEWSASIA (voice-over): Education injects more than $3 billion a year into the Australian economy and provides thousands of jobs. Official figures show that foreign student numbers at campuses leapt by over 10,000 last year, with a new high of nearly 160,000. Students from Indonesia Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Japan accounted for more than half of the number.

(on camera): For many universities, having a large foreign student population doesn't just have economic benefits. It's also a way to strengthen relations with other countries, especially in the region.

CHRISTOPHER ADAM, AUSTRALIAN GRADUATE SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT: International students generally provide us with an increased awareness, if nothing else, that we're part of the international economy. The other part of it is, I would say, that when they go back home, if they come to study and then return home, the word of mouth is very important in terms of telling people about the Australian experience, about what it's like to live here, to work here, so that in the future, particularly, say, business connections are more easily developed..

HENG: According to a survey of more than 200 Australian undergraduates conducted by the University of New South Wales, most found that having foreign students in their classes forced them to question their own perspectives and cultural bias and exposed them to new ideas and insights.

With the competition heating up for the region's youngest and brightest, some Australian universities are even exploring cooperation with other institutions in Asia. The big issue, they say, is the loss of Asian talent to North America and Britain.

JENNIE LANG, UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES: I think there's a way that if we can work together to start building a major research hub here. We will all be better off. And I think if we were really smart, we'd actually be working in partnership to draw as many of the best students from around the world into this region.

HENG: For Australia, one other way of attracting foreign students is through changes in its immigration policy. ANN WHYTE, MORGAN AND BANKS: What has happened recently, which is wonderful, you see the Immigration Department is gradually modifying some of our immigration policy and is, in fact, making it easier for some people -- for some students, particularly, to achieve working visas. And from the corporations' point of view, that's what they need. They need people who are willing to travel, who can work in more than one environment.

HENG: So despite the big challenge from the traditional big names of the West, many here are optimistic that in the field of education, Australia will continue to hold its own.

Melissa Heng, Channel NewsAsia in Sydney.


BAKHTIAR: Around the world, the United States is still seen as the land of opportunity. The U.S. continues to take in new immigrants at near-record levels. While they find homes in all 50 states, the latest figures from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, or INS, show California remains the most popular destination, attracting more than 25 percent of all immigrants. That's followed by New York, Florida, Texas and New Jersey.

Within California, the flood of immigrants is most obvious in Los Angeles, which, behind New York, is the second most popular metropolitan area for immigrants nationally.

As Greg LaMotte reports, the incredible variety of people in L.A. is creating a culture all its own.


GREG LAMOTTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is L.A.: fun, sun, and the greatest convergence of cultures found anywhere in the world.

MELISSA HAYES, LOS ANGELES CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU: You have approximately 140 different nationalities that are in Los Angeles, and you have about 96 different languages that are spoken here.

LAMOTTE: Listen to this city council meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have translation available in Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and Samoan.

LAMOTTE: Some say, with shifting populations and increasing numbers of immigrants, L.A. may be the prototype city of the future. It is a giant quilt. But it appears its cultural patchwork is blending into a blanket.

HARRY PACHON, POLITICAL SCIENTIST: One out of every two Latinos, one out of every two Asians, is marrying someone other than a Latino or an Asian. So there's a mixture going on. And this means that there's going to be -- that this heterogeneity is going to unleash some creative forces that we can't even forecast right now.

LAMOTTE: The sun, the beach, opportunity: L.A. is a magnificent magnet.

WALTER MOSLEY, AUTHOR: You can go to Los Angeles, whoever you are, whatever you are, and you can recreate yourself. You can rediscover yourself. You can make something out of yourself.

LAMOTTE: Some say L.A. is a grand social experiment. Others think L.A. is, well, strange.

BILL DEVERELL, HISTORIAN: An urban metropolis of great complexity and great confusion and chaos in many people's eyes.

LAMOTTE: It is a city that has everything: the arts, the theater.

HAYES: You have more theater here than you have in New York, and a lot of people don't know that.

LAMOTTE: And, yes, L.A. has Hollywood. Fact is, Los Angeles is so incredibly diverse -- and, by the way, a third of California's population lives in the Los Angeles area -- no matter how many times you visit...

MOSLEY: It's a place that's never the same.

LAMOTTE: Well, some things, unfortunately, are always the same.

Greg LaMotte, CNN, Los Angeles.


BAKHTIAR: Diversity's still on the agenda as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, and continue to meet people of Hispanic heritage who are making a difference.

Have you heard of the magazine "Latin Heat"? Its circulation right now is just 10,000, but the publication is a hot commodity in Hollywood, especially among Latinos in the entertainment industry.

NEWSROOM's Janice McDonald introduces us to the magazine's founder.


JANICE MCDONALD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On any given day, you can find Bel Hernandez scurrying through the back lots of movie and television sets of Los Angeles, meeting with producers and directors...

BEL HERNANDEZ, "LATIN HEAT": Here, you'll like this one.

MCDONALD: Working the phones.

HERNANDEZ: Five tickets to the gala. OK. MCDONALD: She's a Latin dynamo who some say has revolutionized the entertainment industry through her trade magazine, "Latin Heat."

TONY PLANO, ACTOR: Having this magazine gives you, you know, avenues to get in, to try and get in, that I didn't even know existed, you know, or didn't exist when I was first starting.

MCDONALD: Actor Tony Plano has known Bel since the days when she herself was an actor and dancer. At that time, issues involving Latinos such as lack of work opportunities and stereotypical on-screen representations in the entertainment industry were often ignored or put on the back burner by studio heads.

HERNANDEZ: I lived it for, like I said, almost 20 years where the roles which were consistently offered or that I was auditioned for were the illegal alien, the crying barrio mother. I got to do one teacher.

MCDONALD: Bel and her friends decided Latinos needed a voice.

HERNANDEZ: We started doing a newsletter that we would distribute among our friends. And then it just started getting -- we got tired of complaining about the lack of, and we saw that there was already a lot of Latinos working within the industry, both behind and in front of the camera. And we started focusing on the positive things that were happening.

MCDONALD: That was almost eight years ago, and "Latin Heat" has grown from a newsletter to a bimonthly magazine. It's published in English so non-Latinos may also benefit from its articles and resources. It has become not only a forum to address issues, but a source of information for Latinos wanting to learn about the industry itself.

NORBERTO BARBER, DIRECTOR: Someone comes into L.A. wanting to be an actor, they can say, well, I'm not here alone, I've heard of "Latin Heat."

MCDONALD: Norberto Barber is a director on an entertainment first, "Resurrection Boulevard." It's a show about middle-class Latinos, written by Latinos, directed by Latinos and created by Latinos.


MCDONALD: Executive Producer Dennis Leoni says no media outlet has covered them like Bel and "Latin Heat." He calls her a one-woman morale booster.

DENNIS LEONI, EXEC. PRODUCER, "RESURRECTION BOULEVARD": You know, we look at the ratings, we look at -- you know, we talk the buzz around town, all our critics and everything, but its always great to look at "Latin Heat" and know that you have a supporter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you. MCDONALD: In fact, Bel's growingly visible support of the Latin entertainment industry is credited by some as even making a show like "Resurrection Boulevard" possible.

BARBER: When Latinos realize they have a voice that has some sort of power, then can step forward, and I think it makes a big difference.

NICHOLAS GONZALEZ, ACTOR: She saw from the beginning the beginnings of a show that could go on to do a lot for her community and could do a lot for the way Latinos are conceived in the business, and took it for granted that we were going to do the right thing. And, hopefully, I think we've come through with the thing that she wished for us to do.

MCDONALD: The magazine's circulation is continuing to grow, but Bel isn't limiting herself to print. She helps organize forums for Latinos to network and discuss issues.

HERNANDEZ: We need to include any other sample portfolios.

MCDONALD: And she and her partners are developing a Web site that will be for Latinos not just in the United States but throughout the world, to satisfy a growing demand in the industry.

HERNANDEZ: And they're asking us, do you have writers? Do you know any DPs? Do you know any directors? We need a script supervisor, we need a makeup person. So this is going to be the well that everyone can come to and it will have all of that, all of those professionals, and they are going to be professionals. There will also be a section for unrepresented talent because then there's also those projects that say, we want to look at everyone.

MCDONALD: And right now, it seems everyone is also looking at Bel. She admits she could capitalize on all of the industry contacts she has now, but...

HERNANDEZ: I don't miss it because I think I'm doing something that's much more exciting for me.

MCDONALD: And many people in the entertainment industry are glad Bel Hernandez has made that choice.

Janice McDonald, CNN NEWSROOM, Los Angeles.


BAKHTIAR: And that wraps it up for us here on NEWSROOM. Have a great weekend. We'll see you back here Monday. Bye.



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