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NEWSROOM for February 15, 2001Aired February 15, 2001 - 4:30 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.
TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: Thanks for making NEWSROOM part of your Thursday. I'm Tom Haynes. We have a lot lined up today. Here's what's ahead.
First, TV news under review: why U.S. lawmakers are asking network executives about mistakes made on election night. Next, in our "Science desk": why a genetically altered monkey could help in the fight against human diseases. From challenges here on Earth to a contest to head into space: "Worldview" checks out the plot of a proposed game show. And, finally, in "Chronicle," we hit the track with race car driver and entrepreneur Harold Martin.
A House committee hearing on the media's coverage of the United States' presidential election gets under way. And top executives from the nation's television networks head to Capitol Hill to testify.
(voice-over): Some major mistakes made by the news media on election night are coming back to haunt network executives. The heads of ABC, CBS NBC, Fox, CNN and the Associated Press spoke to lawmakers Wednesday about their miscall of the Florida presidential vote. In prepared testimony, the media executives said technical problems, not political bias, were responsible. The television networks first declared, then retracted that Vice President Al Gore was the winner in Florida.
Later, they declared President Bush the winner, but had to retract that, too. Media executives say they projected Gore the winner based on calculations that didn't account for absentee balls and didn't allow for discrepancies between exit polls and actual votes. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is recommending some changes be made to election coverage.
Those changes include setting uniform poll-closing times and using stricter standards to call winners.
Well, you know, it's said that hindsight is 20-20. Looking back on election 2000, we see that the presidential race was simply too close to call to early. Here's what some network executives and the head of Voter News service, which they relied on, are saying about the November 7 election coverage.
TED SAVAGLIO, EXEC. DIRECTOR, VOTER NEWS SERVICE: The Voter News Service was created in 1993 an is owned by ABC, the AP, CBS, CNN, Fox and NBC. They are among leading news organization in the country. And they are committed to the highest standards of journalism. The purpose of the Voter News Service is to collect, tabulate and disseminate vote returns, exit-poll data, and projections of election contests.
That information is distributed to our six member organizations and to other subscribing news outlets, who conduct their own analysis and interpretation and report it to the America people as they see fit.
TOM JOHNSON, CHMN. & CEO, CNN: Looking back on campaign 2000 coverage, I am very proud of the hundreds of CNN journalists who devoted their efforts to informing the American public about the issues of this last election. However, CNN did make major mistakes, both in its initial projection of Vice President Gore as the winner in Florida, and then in prematurely projecting that then Governor George Bush had won in Florida.
As a result, I appointed a totally independent panel to advise us on what went wrong, why it happened and what should be done to prevent a reoccurrence in the future. We will remain with VNS if and only if significant changes are made. The errors that plagued election night 2000 must never be repeated. Among the action steps: a revision of VNS' projection system and statistical models. These then will be reviewed by outside experts.
I assure this committee that CNN will go the last mile to fix the problems which have been identified. As I have told our staff -- and I know that we all understand it -- we would rather be right than first.
ROGER AILES, CHMN., FOX NEWS: As everyone knows, Voter News Service, a consortium with a good track record, gave out bad numbers that night. In the closest race in history, the wheels apparently came off a rattle-trap computer system which we relied on and paid millions for. As Fox relied on those numbers, we gave our audience bad information. Our lengthy and critical self-examination shows that we let our viewers down. I apologize for making those bad projections that night. It will not happen again.
ANDREW LACK, PRESIDENT, NBC NEWS: And it occurs to me that a good question for us would have been, say, for the price of a new federal highway, could we have gotten this whole system fixed? Millions of votes are thrown out in election after election in this country. Now, that's a story. And there is a screw-up.
We didn't do nearly enough digging, it seems to me, into those facts. And if we had asked some of these questions before the election, and had some answers, we might have been in a whole lot better shape on election night than we were. We booted it in more ways than one.
HAYNES: The television networks took a credibility hit on election night. And it's not the first time the media have been mislead by voting returns.
Garrick Utley has more on the public's perception of the media.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The experts were right, Dewey was in the lead.
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GARRICK UTLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yes, journalists do make mistakes as on election night 1948, which is why re-elected President Harry Truman was smiling the morning after.
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JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: A big call to make: CNN announces that we call Florida.
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UTLEY: And yes, they can make the same mistake again, as in the last presidential election. So now, the top executives of leading news organizations have been summoned to Washington to have their knuckles rapped, even though the television networks have already promised to change the way they project winners in presidential contests.
But behind everyone's unhappiness with those Florida calls, is another question.
(on camera): What does the public, you, think of us and television news reporting? Well, in the most recent Gallup Poll which asks people to rate professions according to their high levels of honesty and ethical standards, television reporters and commentators came in just behind auto mechanics and just ahead of members of Congress.
(voice-over): But then, journalists have at times added their own fuel to their own fire, as when incendiary devices were used to create flames on an NBC "Dateline" report on vehicle safety. Or in the CNN "Tailwind" report on the Vietnam War, where key allegations were not sufficiently substantiated.
And now, with more news talk shows, where there's often more opinion than reporting, the picture viewers have of television journalism has changed. It is no longer the world of your Uncle Walter Cronkite.
And so, what is the verdict of the public? Fifty-three percent say that television news is important to their lives, but only 22 percent believe that TV journalists rate high or very high on the scale of honesty and ethics. Still, an additional 47 percent consider them to be average.
(on camera): Average? That's like getting a grade of C for credibility. It may be human, but it should be better. But then, reporters have often missed the big story.
(voice-over): Let's go back to 1927: "The New York Times" announced the test of something new called television. It was made over this first television set. It was "Like a Photo Come to Life" exclaimed the headline, "the First Time in History," and then "Commercial Use in Doubt."
Garrick Utley, CNN, New York.
HAYNES: This week, we told you about a pair of landmark studies that have given us a detailed look at the human genetic code. That, along with progress in cloning procedures, could be instrumental in the prevention and cure of diseases. But as cloning procedures become more advanced and common, the ethical issues involved become more complex.
Here's Elizabeth Cohen with more.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Andi. He looks like a normal monkey, but he's not. Researchers inserted a gene from a jellyfish into Andi's chromosomes. Now, Andi doesn't glow green like this jellyfish. But scientists say he might someday. Two other monkeys given the jellyfish gene, who were stillborn, did glow.
Put under a microscope and under ultraviolet light, their fingernails and their hair were green. Here's how the scientists made these monkeys. They injected the gene for green fluorescence into an egg from a normal female rhesus monkey. The gene was packed inside an inactivated virus, seen here as a red ball. The virus opened up and the jellyfish DNA entered the egg. Then the jellyfish DNA joined up with monkey's own DNA.
Here the blue strand is the monkey DNA. The white piece is the jellyfish DNA. So the monkey's chromosomes, seen here at the top of the egg, contained the jellyfish gene. The egg was then fertilized with a sperm from a normal male monkey. The egg divided. And that was the beginning of Andi. He's not the first. Other animals, including these mice two years ago, have been injected with the jellyfish gene. You may wonder: Why would anyone want to do this?
(on camera): The scientists figure that if they can insert a jellyfish gene into a monkey, then someday they could insert a human gene into a monkey and use that monkey for scientific research. A monkey with a human gene for breast cancer or Alzheimer's disease or schizophrenia would be a great model for studying and treating human diseases, much better model than a mouse.
GERALD SCHATTEN, OHSU PRIMATE RESEARCH CENTER: We think that Andi, as the first genetically modified primate, will accelerate the day when cures that are discovered on laboratory benches can be moved to patients' bedsides.
COHEN (voice-over): Scientists are excited about this new development, but animal-rights activists are not. They say humans shouldn't tamper with the basic building blocks of life, especially since Andi's offspring could also carry the jellyfish gene. Could the next step be inserting genes from animals into humans? Scientists say no one's heading down that road because, at this point, it would serve no purpose.
SCHATTEN: We don't support any extension or extrapolation of this work from a laboratory animal to people.
COHEN: By the way, if you're wondering where Andi got his name, the "i" is for inserted and the rest of DNA is backwards, because with the technique used on Andi, the DNA was inserted into the egg backwards.
Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta
HAYNES: In "Worldview" today: space ships and sailing ships. We head to sea to learn about oysters -- and fishing, too. That story takes us to the United States.
And space is the place as we visit Russia, Germany and China to check out space plans and programs. Find out what a taikonaut does.
First, though: a look at a special space event: America's 100th space walk. Wednesday, two astronauts conducted NASA's "dead guy" test: a practice emergency drill to pull an injured astronaut to safety. The outing lasted 5 1/2 hours. That's quite a difference from the first American space walk which took place in 1965 and lasted only 21 minutes.
"Worldview" continues in the world of space. This month, the Russian space station Mir reaches its 15-year anniversary -- and its last. The Russian government is preparing to discard Mir. It's set to push the troubled space station toward Earth next month.
Do you know who is the world's most seasoned space traveler? Well, it's not a person at all, but a doll named Vakosha (ph). Vakosha spent a record six years, five months, seven days, 14 hours, 38 minutes and 11 seconds in orbit, according to Russia. The doll, a mascot of Mir and a present from Russian school children, is safely back in Russia, well ahead of the space station.
More from the world of space as we turn to China. The world's most populous country setting its sights beyond Earth. It's a vision that's inspiring a nation of young people, as Rebecca MacKinnon explains. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After blasting off last week from the plains of Northwestern China, the spacecraft Shenzhou 2 is getting rave reviews from Chinese scientists. It has performed life-support experiments and orbit maneuvers, all in preparation for manned space flight.
PHILLIP CLARK, MOLNIYA SPACE CONSULTANCY: Shenzhou 2 looks to be going extremely well indeed. If Shenzhou 3, in perhaps six-month's time, goes as well, then the Chinese may decide to risk putting the first two cosmonauts on board Shenzhou 4.
MACKINNON: For the kids and grownups who pack into Beijing's Museum of Science and Technology every day, Shenzhou is part of a national dream.
WANG YUSHENG, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY MUSEUM (through translator): Some day in the future, there will be space industry and people will even colonize outer space. We Chinese feel proud and glorious to be doing our part.
MACKINNON (on camera): Americans call them astronauts. Russians call them cosmonauts. And when China sends people into space, they'll be called taikonauts. A lot of children here today want to be one.
(voice-over): Taikonaut because the Chinese word for space is taikong. Middle-school student Chong Yang (ph) can't wait. She says she's studying hard in science class to prepare for her space career. This exhibit may be a fantasy, but experts believe China could have a real space station by 2005 or 2006. The plans for China's space program don't stop there.
CLARK: So perhaps, in 15 or 20 years, the next footsteps on the moon won't be American or Russian; they'll be Chinese.
MACKINNON: And by that time, perhaps some of these kids will get to be the lucky ones.
Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Beijing.
RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Onto Germany, where space travel is fueling imagination. A German company has come up with an idea it hopes will outdo any reality-TV shows around: a contest to pick astronauts for a real trip to space.
Chris Burns has more the adventurous venture.
CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Who wants to be an astronaut? A German TV company hopes the idea will catch on, so much so that it's willing to invest millions of dollars for a TV series that will pick contestants for the real thing: trips to the International Space Station beginning as early as 2002.
The company Brainpool says the show would be a different kind of reality TV. It would narrow down perhaps tens of thousands of applicants to a few hundred hopefuls.
JOERG GRABOSCH, CHMN., BRAINPOOL (through translator): This will be the opposite of "Big Brother." In "Big Brother," one has to move into a container for 100 days and has to try not to be mobbed out by other contestants. To become a space commander, one is properly trained as a cosmonaut. One is integrated fully in the training process and has to acquire a jet pilot's license and undergo all the most stringent tests.
BURNS: The tests would also include technical knowledge, physical fitness and social skills. Finally, national winners would be sent to Moscow for six months of cosmonaut training and a course in Russian. Final winners, chosen by views, would spend a week in space. Brainpool says it will pay European space authorities $7.5 million to conduct training. And it says it's reserved seven slots on Russian Soyuz rockets between 2002 and 2008 to send winning contestants to the International Space Station being built above the Earth.
Each stage of training would be filmed, as well as the trip to space and back.
GRABOSCH (through translator): Worldwide sponsor interest is so great on the side of TV broadcasters and Internet providers that we are very optimistic that these seven flights and more will take place.
BURNS: A chance to get a head start on space tourism, if you can jump through all the hoops.
Chris Burns, CNN, Berlin.
HAYNES: Chesapeake Bay is making a comeback. For decades, the health of this largest estuary in North America has been in decline. Just a century ago, the unique ecosystem was so vibrant reefs of oyster shells jutted above the bay's surface at low tide, posing hazards to ships and boats. But disease, pollution and over-fishing all took their toll, all but wiping out a once lucrative industry. Today, only a handful of oyster fishermen are left. But for the first time in a long time, they're finding there's money to be made along these historic shores.
Tony Guida has the story.
TONY GUIDA, CNNFN CORRESPONDENT: On a recent winter morning, well before daybreak, Captain Wade Murphy and his crew headed out onto the Chesapeake Bay in search of oysters. It`s a routine that Murphy has followed thousands of times over the past 40 years. The men who work the Bay harvesting oysters, crabs and fish are known as water men and much like Captain Murphy`s hundred year old sailing sloop these water men are a vanishing breed. Still, Murphy says there`s nothing he`d rather be doing.
WADE H. MURPHY, JR. CAPTAIN, REBECCA T. RUARK: You work at your own pace. You`re your own boss and it`s something you live with the weather. You live with the wind. You`re part of the boat. You`re part of the weather and I just love to do it. I've been doing it for 43 years and I wouldn't trade jobs with anybody. I love this.
GUIDA: In the early part of the last century thousands of water men worked the Bay aboard skip Jacks like Captain Murphy`s Rebecca T. Ruark. Today most water men have turned to more modern approaches like hydraulic tonguing and given the great expense of operating these vessels only a handful of skip Jacks remain in commercial operation.
MURPHY: When I started back in 1957 it was over 80 skip Jacks. Today we`re down to I'd say 12 or 13 left. It`s just not feasible. There`s no new one being built to catch oysters this way, but it`s fun.
GUIDA: The number of oysters in the Bay has plummeted to only one percent of their level a century ago. Maintaining a sustainable population of these buy valves have become a concern not just of environmentalist and commercial fishermen but of operators of inns and restaurants in the area. Virginia and Maryland attract visitors who seek not just a sense of early American history but also a taste of the legendary seafood fresh from the Chesapeake.
ANGELA MULLOY, OWNER, THE WILLOW GROVE INN: The whole mid Atlantic region is very, very rich in history. We've got like six presidents that were born and raised in this little area and people from Europe and the rest of the United States that aren't so rich in history culture come here to see what we could do and so we try to recreate in a nouveau style some of the things that they did there.
GUIDA: Younger water men like Kenny Keen of Broom`s Island, Maryland have had to make some tough choices because the scarcity of oysters, crabs and fish in the Bay. This season Keen decided not to take to the water as he has in seasons past, but to work in a friend`s seafood processing plant instead.
KENNY KEEN, CHESAPEAKE BAY WATERMAN: Back in about the first of August I quit crabbing because it wasn't profitable enough for me. I took a job down at Warren Dinski (ph) Food down here in Broom`s Island helping Norman Doral work in his seafood processing plant. There`s always something to do in the seafood business that`s for sure whether you`re on the catching end or the processing end or the restaurant end. There`s an endless amount of opportunity.
GUIDA: According to Bill Goldsborough a scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation despite these current concerns there are some encouraging signs for the future. Oyster populations have finally begun to rebound thanks to thousands of volunteers who have been raising oysters literally in their own back yards.
BILL GOLDSBOROUGH, CHESAPEAKE BAY FOUNDATION: The oyster harvest has gone up in the last five years in the Bay. It`s still a shadow of what it used to be. It`s has got a long way to go. One of the very exciting tools for restoration that has evolved in the last few years is involving citizens and students directly in growing oysters at private docks something we call oyster gardening. They basically take small seed oysters from a hatchery and grow them up to a size where they can survive in the wild.
GUIDA: John Flood is one of those gardeners of the Bay. He has seen the oyster population begin to rebound though he realizes there`s still much to be done.
JOHN FLOOD, VOLUNTEER: I've been very pleased with the results that we've had. We've only put about 10 percent of the 15 million oysters that we want to put on the creek. We`re at a million-and-a- half now.
GUIDA: The success of these efforts is good news not just for water men like Wade Murphy who has been working the Bay for decades, but also for the younger generation of water men.
MURPHY: The future for the Chesapeake Bay water men I feel personally is very bright. Younger people want to get into it because you`re going to have to produce seafood because there`s such a demand for it and as long as there`s a demand for it somebody is going to have to come out and catch it. Can you imagine doing anything else? I can`t. I wouldn't choose any other occupation.
GUIDA: I'm Tony Guida.
HAYNES: Every once in a while, you meet someone who breathes inspiration, someone you admire not only for his accomplishments in life. but how that person lives life. Recently, I ran across such an individual: a drag racer-turned-entrepreneur who's living a life-long dream.
(voice-over): The thrill of drag racing: speeding down a quarter-mile track at more than two hundred miles an hour. It's a risk-taker's sport. Harold Martin is the embodiment of a drag racer. He's not afraid of risks. He thrives on competition and fear of the unknown.
HAROLD MARTIN, DRAG RACER: But what about the distributor? Has it been phased in?
HAYNES: Harold puts his hands on everything that passes through here. For him, turning wrenches comes naturally.
MARTIN: Since a kid, I basically have been fascinated by engines and the possibilities and the what-ifs?
HAYNES: Martin's fascination with motor sports was inspired by his father, a Detroit autoworker who liked to drag race on the side.
HUSTON MARTIN, HAROLD'S FATHER: Every Saturday night, he would be there, involved in whatever we was doing. So I knew then. I said: Boy, this guy, he's going to be a drag racer.
HAROLD MARTIN: My dad was very good in opening that door and giving me opportunities to learn about it and to be on his race team and those kind of things.
HAYNES: Martin wanted his drag engine to be the best, which meant developing expertise he didn't have. So he took a part-time job at General Motors to pay for a degree in automotive engineering. At GM, Martin was an innovator. He's credited with developing the first electronic fuel injection system and Cadillac's Northstar engine. At the peak of his career, Martin left GM to start his own automotive engineering company.
HAROLD MARTIN: I felt like it was time to take that risk and pursue a dream. I felt like, you know, I didn't want to look back on life and say: I wish I would of, could of, should of.
HAYNES (on camera): Was it a little scary to start your own business?
HAROLD MARTIN: Yes. Starting your own business is always a very, very difficult thing and concerning thing. You have the risk of: You've lost the security of the job that you had. You have the risk of: Well, will people really think highly enough of you to give you business, as well as will they come back to you after the first episode of that business?
HAYNES (voice-over): The risk paid off. Harold Martin built himself a multi-million dollar enterprise, attracting race enthusiasts who want to soup up their engines and major auto companies like General Motors.
SCOTT MACKIE, GENERAL MANAGER, ACDELCO: We certainly appreciate the association with Harold. Racing is a very difficult sport. And staying on the cutting edge of technology is an extremely difficult thing to do.
HAYNES: Besides his father's influence, Martin credits much of his success on his upbringing as a child in inner city Detroit.
HAROLD MARTIN: It takes a surrounding staff and a surrounding community to make you ultimately the person that you are. And that's why I find it so special to have the opportunity to come back into the city of Detroit and do things within the public school systems and do things within communities at large.
It's each and every one of you that has the ability to take your own prospective careers to whatever level that you choose to. Nothing can stop you other than you.
HAYNES: Martin goes out of his way to share his philosophy of hard work and determination with young people.
HAROLD MARTIN: I want them to make a serious commitment to the career. I want them to make a serious commitment to education. And I want them to realize that it's them that makes that difference. HAYNES (on camera): Does a young Harold Martin growing up in this neighborhood today have as much opportunity to succeed as you did?
HAROLD MARTIN: A young Harold Martin today has even greater opportunity than I have today to succeed.
This is really good, Mike.
HAYNES (voice-over): Martin makes no secret about the value he places on family and spends as much time and energy on being a husband and father as he does climbing the entrepreneurial ladder.
(on camera): How much do you try and involve your son in what you do as a professional?
HAROLD MARTIN: I want him to be a very successful person. I want him to know the benefits of working hard and what the rewards are of having a good education and having good, hard work ethics and those kinds of things.
HAYNES (voice-over): Harold Martin is living a dream: a dream he made come true by his own hard work and determination. But just because he's accomplished so much doesn't mean he's ready to put his life on cruise control.
HAROLD MARTIN: God didn't put you on this Earth to go out there and coexist. He put you on this Earth to go out there and make a difference. Each and every day, I make a major stride toward making sure that our efforts at the end of the day are going to make a difference in the programs that we are involved with.
HAYNES: That's NEWSROOM for Thursday. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Take care.
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