I cannot believe I wasted my time watching what I consider to be one of the most blatantly biased "news" programs that I have seen in recent memory.
I am writing my congressional representatives to ask that they vote to not renew your funding. I do not want any of my money going to support this type of "reporting" and to support your hidden agenda.
I watched with great interest your report on how money buys influence in Washington D.C. The program was well researched but I was annoyed that it side-stepped what underlies the influence of big money. Lets face it-voters don't care. They don't want to finance political campaigns, and are unwilling to exert themselves to find out what the candidates stand for. The only way to get them to vote is to buy expensive TV time-and that is where big money comes in. Pretending that Corruption happens in a differnet world from, and unrelated to, the general public, is disingenuous.
New Orleans, LA
I thought the show was evenhanded as far as showing how both Republicans and Democrats alike, have their hand out and can be and are bought. My problem is the same one columnist David Broder writes about in today's column: that the total concentration was on corporate-types buying influence and access. No mention whatsoever was made of the same activity by labor unions, religious organziations, and other special interest (pressure) groups. Yes, it was mentioned that Phil Gramm's biggest supporter is the NRA, but other than that it was Carl Lindner and A-D-M. It would have been superior if 10 minutes had been devoted to these other influence buyers. By not including them, it appears as if the stereotypical liberal PBS anti-big-corporation bias was showing.
How to Buy a President was perhaps the most informative and revealing Frontline I have ever seen. Campaign finance and lobby reform should rank even above balancing the Federal Budget in the order of our national priorities. Continuing the practice of buying votes with dollars is leading this country down the path of disaster as the average citizen's voice is no longer heard. I will vote for ONLY those candidates who sincerely address this issue. Now, when are you going to get moving on that Blue Ribbon Panel Mssrs. Clinton and Gingrich?
I always enjoy watching your programs because they are very informative and unbiased. I was curious to notice that on this show the challengers were discussed first and the incumbent was discussed last. Unusual. The incumbent, Bill Clinton, was not discussed until after 11:00. Most people probably switched channels to the news to check the weather.
I'm very disappointed in the recent episode of Frontline "So You Want to Buy a President". You spent 15 minutes givings a lecture about Gallo wines, 30 seconds about Mrs. Clinton's Cattle Futures, and not one second to the producer of the chicken on my table: Tyson Foods. It is also unfair to compare lifetime contributions of Bob Dole, who has been in the Senate 6 terms, versus Bill Clinton who has been in national politics for 4 years. Next time, please ask Senator Bradley how he responded to big contributors of HIS campaigns.
Bel Air, Maryland
Congratulations on a provocative investigation into the truth of campaign financing -- sadly, I suspect, merely a confirmation of our general suspicions. We always knew that money buys political favor and influence, but never before has the evidence been so articulate and thorough. That PBS was willing to name long-time PBS supporter Dwayne Andreas among the usual suspects proves once again your integrity, fairness and fearlessness (those same qualities which make me a rabid PBS supporter). Indeed, "If PBS doesn't do it, who will?" It is time for major reform, and shows like the recent Frontline help explain why. It is possible for both parties to be morally corrupt without being legally guilty. Ah, the irony of the politicians' urging the media industry to clean itself up while they themselves sink to ever-lower depths for the same sake of money. Ultimately, the responsibility for cleansing the system belongs also to those who must regulate the marketplace and this society: the American people. As for the fear that, with campaign financing restrictions in place, only the richest will be able to afford to race (a la Steve Forbes), I don't think that Americans will buy the idea that the presidency is up for sale to the highest bidder. Disgust with the wealthyπs egos and presumptions can have a way of lowering public opinion -- and we shall see how far Mr Forbes' money gets him when his self-promotion comes under closer scrutiny. America still cherishes its myth of the humble, log-cabin president! . We want our presidents to be self-made men (someday self-made women as well) -- ie, rich but not too rich (neither grotesquely nor obscenely so) -- just rich enough to prove their competence in the political game and other worldly affairs. Thank you for this opportunity to respond to your excellent broadcast via the Internet. With such a webpage, you show not only how good television can be, but also how good the Internet can be -- and show, as well, the effectiveness of combining both media.
I just finished watching this program but feel compelled to say that you spent to much time proving your point about how campain money buys influence in the White House. If this program is to bring about change, more time should have been devoted to alternate ways to fund elections. I'm not so sure that would be a good idea. After all, business as usual does get a lot done. I wished that PBS would show both sides of this question, the good and the bad of money influence. Lets face it, those canidates have to get that money from somewhere... I hope it is not from drugs ! Better US business than from crime. Enough of my views,please show both views or sides of a question.
This program was interesting but rather superficial in its analysis. Especially in light of the current budget debate, it failed to discuss the implications of corporate corruption on the social fabric of this country. For example, the show could have nailed its point home much more effectively by graphically illustrating how reductions in the corporate tax rate (from 38% in the 1950s, to less than 20% today), subsidizing job migration abroad, and other forms of corporate welfare are directly associated with the decline in wages and the general living condition of the average American.
I hope this program will finally convince all those viewers who think that Frontline is always biased and partisan, since after watching the entire show it was obvious that no national politician or political party came away unscathed. I found the focus that was placed on Dole and Clinton in particular to be extremely informative and relevant considering the upcoming Presidential campaign. The report on major contributors like the Gallo brothers was also very revealing, considering the fact that such major business leaders seem intent on trying to influence politicians no matter what their party affiliation. As far as the issue of reform is concerned, one thing that you program did not point out is that true reform will be impossible until the majority of Americans, who don't have the money and influence of big business and other interest groups, actually wake up and realize what is really happening to our form of government. The politicians who have a stake in the system, or are forced to spend so much time and energy on fundraising won't reform the system. Political outsiders won't because in order to be a successful outsider like Forbes and Perot, you need similar wealth. Unfortunately, for many reasons, the majority of the American do not act. Hopefully, your program will have given some of these people the ammunition that can be used to affect needed change. Such change will not be possible through a so called Republican Revolution, or any other agenda of the two major parties until the parties and their way of doing business is forced to change.
Michael A. Katzenberg
I enjoyed your program as I agree that people are generally uniformed with respect to how campaign financing works and the serious issues that exist. I believe the President, or any other candidate, should be impartial in every way towards companies and influential individuals. Favoring companies and individuals should be made unlawful and be regulated. A candidate can then blame the system and laws when he is asked to favor or "bless" industries, companies or individuals with funds, etc.
Thank you, Frontline, for opening the public's eyes once more! It is utterly revolting to think that these men are elected to "promote the GENERAL welfare", and the only welfare they are promoting are their own and that of the richest class of Americans and their businesses. It is also revolting that these people carry out their shenanigans as quietly as possible (e.g. the Banana Bill). This, in itself, proves that they are aware that what they are doing is unethical. No matter how hard we try, or what laws are passed, politicians will always find the loophole. Nothing short of revolution can ever be successful in divorcing politics from influence peddling. What would Thomas Jefferson think of us now? Sadly, I have begun informing my friends and family that I will be moving out of the US and renouncing my citizenship just as soon as I can emigrate to New Zealand and find work. It may not be the garden of eden, but at least it has not been invaded by political serpents of the kind and caliber you have reported on. Keep up the fine reporting work. Perhaps some day all voters can be as well-informed as I have been from your programs. I will miss you in NZ!
Ray Hudson (AKA Rainman)
Very impressed by research and presentation. This was an extremly gutsy program for an agency that receives public funds. It obviously leads us to the question of why there hasn't been a public outcry for immediate campaign finance reform, as Rep. Gingrich and the President indicated they would agree to. In our state legislature(MO), there have been several good attempts on such reform, and it appears to be working, although more is needed to insure that politicians aren't being controlled by special interests. Keep up the very fine work,and from the average guy thats concerned about this topic, I greatly appreciate your gutsy reporting.
Right on! you must run it several times during the early primary season--so that it will affect voters and viewers. too many one-shot programs have little effect because of "attention span" and too few viewers. i look forward to the sequel about how it is done in other industrial modern societies to give the citizens perspective about alternatives. thankyou! thankyou!!
The buying of political favors by the rich and American industry is partially responsible for the excessive tax burden placed on the middle class tax payers. During the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s the American rich, American industries, and the middle class each paid about a third of the total taxes collected.
Your program clearly pointed out that the rich and industries are buying political favors, such as reduced taxes. The Gallo family whom you mentioned in your program is a case in point. Both industry and the rich are highly organized and narrowly focused and can afford to make enormous campaign contributions to influence the formulation of our contries laws. As industry and the rich buy their way out of paying taxes, the middle class is left to shoulder the burden of the shortfall in tax revenues.
This is grossly unfair to the middle class because the rich and industry still use the shared resources of this country such as waterways, roads, harbors, and airports and benefit from the protection of the various national law enforcement organizations such as the FBI and Tabacco and Fire Arms Bureau to name a few. General Electric has paid very little federal income taxes and yet makes billions of dollars of profits. They too use our shared resources but do not help in paying for their upkeep and maintenance through paying taxes.
We should not overtax the rich and industry to make them poor. However, they should pay their fair share of the tax burden because they do utilize our common resources and should be expected to pay for that use. To restore the tax burden triad of the rich, middle class, and industry the political contribution laws must be changed so that paying for political favors is deemed unethical and illegal. Otherwise, the middle class will simply end up paying all the taxes, will not be able to share in the wealth of this country, and may eventually become extinct.
Douglas C. Robinson
Thank you for broadcasting this eye opener! Every voter in America should be required to watch it before casting a vote in the 1996 election. My heroine of the week is Rep. Linda Smith of Washington state who is fighting the uphill battle for meaningful campaign finance reform, despite being treated like a leper by her fellow members of Congress. But your program shows how the system works and why the ordinary citizen is completely unrepresented in Washington today.
For me, one of the most the most affecting and thought provoking preograms I've seen. I agree with Bill Bradley, who said, "A rich man's wallet should not be superior to a poor man's soapbox." But the show reminds me of Pushkin, who said, "Everybody says that there is no justice on Earth. But it really does not matter much since there is no justice in Heaven."
I commend your courage in broadcasting "So You Want to Buy a President", although it may very well be the death knell for PBS funding by Congress. It just confirmed what I already knew deep in my gut ---- that my ballot isn't worth the paper it's printed on. As a person struck down in the prime of life by a workplace-caused chemical injury, I have learned over the past few years that ALL politicians are governed by big business and are not going to help the little guy, as we were led to believe in grade school. I'm not a flag-burner type, but the hypocrisy of the Pledge of Allegiance now sickens me.
"So you want to buy a President?" highlights the separation between government and the governed. How many millions of people feel that politicians are an elitist group which has nothing to do with the lives of most Americans? It IS time to take the money out and demand representation rather than the orgy of money and power which now exists. In order to do this, however, we "ordinary people" MUST be informed.
Your documentary was enlightening to the point of nausea. It truly sickens me at the depth of, what I would call, legalized corruption that exists in our government and that is so warmly embraced by our politcal leaders. Until lastnight, I thought I had a say in government. How naive' I've been.
When our government is for sale I can't imagine why our representatives in government don't understand why people just give up participation in the democratic process: It seems no matter who you want to support they owe their loyalty to the "Money men" and their actual constituants are maybe an after thought. I appreciate Frontline taking the initiative to bring these issues before the public in a nonpartisan manner.
Frontline in general, and the program "So You Want to Buy a President" in particular, exemplify what insightful, relevant and in my opinion, critically important investigative reporting is all about. The average American doesn't have the time, inclination or tools to discover the intricacies of its own politicians and Government-Frontline does. This was a very powerful show. I hope it is repeated. Keep up the good work Frontline. Your work is most appreciated.
I was fascinated and infuriated at the way we buy and sell Presidents. Your reporting was first rate and insightful. Given the blur between the highest levels of corporate America and both of the political parties, what chance does the common person have of getting his/her interests heard? At what point have we crossed the line to a defacto hegemony in which real power is never open to public input? True campaign reform would consist of limiting all spending of any type to one publically funded amount. Limit the time of the campaigns and TV access. Right...
Kudos to PBS for thoughtfully presenting information that the major networks will not, perhaps due to conflict of interest. I'll never understand how candidates can vilify so-called "welfare queens" when their own campaign coffers are being filled by corporate "welfare kings".
Thank you for the eye opening program on campaign contributions. I could not avoid recalling so many instances of having been informed of foreign corruption by our media. Countless times I have heard that in order to do business in foreign cultures such as India or nations of the Middle East, you may have to give a bribe to government officials. Thank you for so skillfully pointing out the failings of our system which cloaks itself in legitimacy in various ways but in the final analysis may be the most corrupt system on our planet.
Your program was excellent! It confirmed what most Americans already knew, just how corrupt our leaders in Washington really are. The voters are fed up with the influence peddling, buying access to key politicians. This is reflected in the ground swell of disgust, and "none of the above" attitude towards the candidates. It also explains the growth in "Corporate Welfare" and shifting of the nation's tax burden directly to salary and wage earners. Your expose on Chiquita, "Probably the World's Most Rotten Fruit", ADM, "Alledgely, Price Fixer to the World", and the E. & J. Gallo, who are evil enough to cut their own brother out of his rightful inheritence, buying their own admendments and special breaks. Outrageous!!! Thank you for the breath of fresh air on television, even though the subject reeks of slime and sewer rats.
Thank you for thoughtful and sometimes frightening look at how we elect and re-elect our candidates in America. I am torn between anger and frustration, and resignation that "it's the only game in town" for people who seek public office. I hope this program will begin a "serious" debate on this topic. Please continue the excellent reporting.
Great job of reporting. I see now that my $10.00 contribution is nothing more than a token of general support used by the candidates to claim broad public support. I can see now why Steve Forbes is a problem for the politicians. If Steve Forbes can buy the job he should'nt have to pay anyone off. Maybe he would be a generous king and spread a few favors around to the peasants. Its no wonder Americans are cynical about our government.
Thanks for the program. This is probably the most important Frontline you have produced lately. This program is a must view for all citizens in our democracy along with every political commercial. You have provided us with valuable imformation that NONE of the candidates will say because they all have a vested interest in the current process.
Dexter K. Decker
Great job on this wide-ranging discussion of corporate influence on the political process. It was like watching an insider's view of the workings of the Mafia, only worse, since the Federal Government is bigger, richer and has more influence on the lives of average people than organized crime does.
Congratulations on Robert Krulwich's superb piece of journalism. Whether they know it or not, when people rail about Washington elites, they're talking about wealthy contributors who have effectively robbed the people of democracy. Contribution by contribution, "So You Want To Buy a President?" shows where the money goes and what it buys -- from a warm handshake to a bill that sails through congress. This is America's worst-kept dirty little secret. You only scratched the surface; I hope you can continue to follow the money trial in future episodes without losing your corporate sponsorship.
Excellent job, Robert Krulwich! Glad to see that the eye-jerking, post-modern format used on the last show you gave us were not signs of a trend for the future. Interesting that you did not mention (except in the interview with Lindner in the web pages) that the "Banana Man", Carl Lindner, gave one of my fellow Arizonans his start. When he lived "back east" (as so many Arizonans did), Charles H. Keating, Jr., was an apprentice of Mr. Lindner.
Like Lindner, Keating gave many hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians of both parties. When confronted with this fact at a press conference, and when asked whether he thought that the money bought him better access than other people, he said, "I hope so". At long last, an honest man. If Keating had been a little less honest, a little more circumspect, perhaps he would have been sitting with Mr. Lindner, behind the president, instead of in federal custody.
Bravo on confronting the influence peddling that occurs in Washington. One interesting point that was made is that corporations have no qualms about buying both parties, and I think there lies the problem. What we really need to make any campaign finance reform measure take hold and work is to eliminate the two-party bottleneck by eliminating the electoral system that protects them. There are many more advanced methods of registering public opinion that don't unfairly bias elecitons toward two parties (i.e proportional representation, with preference ballot, open or closed list parlimentary-style votes, etc.). For more information on this, see the web site for The Center for Voting and Democracy (http://www.igc.apc.org/cvd/).
I viewed your documentary on the Buying of the President with great interest. As a registered voter it makes me wonder what good it is to vote when others with great amounts of money can with that money buy infulunce with out ever having to cast a single vote. However, I cast my vote anyway because I know there are millions like me with no monentary power who can afftect the outcome of the Presidental race. Its once elected, that I become concerned with the power brokers. Documentaries like the one I saw tonight help clear the political air and let us know what is really going on out there. Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing more programs like I saw tonight.
I just viewed the above mentioned program, and find it very informative, especially in an electin year. Political culture as other culture, changes so gradually it seems imperceptible until things go too far. It seems we have reached that point. I am a graduate student in Int'l Environmental Studies at the Monterey Institute of Int'l Studies in Monterey, CA. I feel this would be a very good film to show at school. I would like to inquire how to obtain a copy of this Frontline production to show at our school. I look forward to hearing from you. My husband (he is presently in Milwaukee, WI) and I have long been supporters of PBS, both here and in WI. Keep it up! Thank you for Frontline.
Pacific Grove, CA
Just saw your show and it was very instructive and relevent. I was left with the thought that this may be the only way the nation can function given the system. Like so many other things the problems here are systemic. I believe that all is not gloom, these large companies do provide some jobs for some people. (My current unemployment notwithstading). Every time I see Frontline it generally involves groups of people spending enormous sums of money, usually politicians, and it is hard for me to relate that many people are making losts of money. Great show, great web site.
I just saw the program tonight and it was excellent. I hope to see this trend of "just-the-facts" political reporting continue indefinitely. I already knew this this type of thing was happening, but I certainly wasn't privvy with the information presented in your program. PBS and it's informed FRONTLINE reporters stand on the verge of forcing a serious political campaign issue on our (what I consider) unwilling candidates. With the intelligent decision of allowing responses from your web pages, you have placed yourself on the "reality" end of implementing a truly digital democracy (with emphasis on "true democracy").
This show gave tangible, clear-cut examples of what we knew all along. There's only one word to describe how campaigns are financed: OBSCENE!! If the politicians won't reform themselves, then perhaps we need to put our energies into national reform ballot referendums instead of working to elect people who truly don't represent us. We know the problem; now let's deal with the solution. Excellent show! Perhaps the subtitle could be "Pigs at the Trough!"
Sam & Dorothy Wake
What a program! I have to congratulate you all for the courage and conviction to conduct serious investigative reporting. I hope it is a sign of the future. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Public Broadcasting (and thus, all of us who support public broadcasting) were the guardians of the Internet instead of the big corporations whose concern is profit? Who else can understand the potential of the medium to deal seriously with content, form, and the spaces that live between the viewer, the event, and the reporter or program director?
I am shivering from the the depth of reporting in this program tonight. But, I have to tell you that the best parts were the editing and camera work. They were so subtley masterful that the whole story was breathtaking. Little nuances, glances, juxtapositions of comments with gestures. Brilliant. What else can I say? Thank you for not talking down to me and to other viewers across North America. How else can people learn if not by challenging them with data that calls out for answers? Hopefully, the American people were listening tonight. As a Canadian, I wish you all the best. Congratulations once again.
Dr. Ricki Goldman-Segall
Great show! Please send a copy to the editors of all college and university newspapers in the US. College students are waiting to be mobilized as they have been in the past with the Vietnam War and civil rights. I've developed a project in California to help college students understand how campaign finance reform (CFR) relates to almost every issue of importance to them e.g., job prospects after graduation, affirmative action, tuition and other fees, those 3 hour waits to see a doctor at the student health service, etc. Californians will have a chance to enact significant CFR legislation in November '96: the California Political Reform Initiative which will put reasonable limits on campaign contributions and spending(most important !). My approach is to approach editors of student newspapers as a way to reach the student body. I would like to meet anyone interested in getting involved who lives or works near one of the University of California campuses who might be ! interested in helping with this project. I would appreciate help from Frontline as well. Again, great show ! Send it to college newspaper editors and shows them how to relate CFR to specific student concerns.
Geoffry White, Ph.D.
First, many thanks for your work on tonight's program re: campaign financing. I would like to see -- and have always wondered why U.S. news commentators, et al. have not researched -- the ways that other countries deal with these issues. Having lived in Norway and studying Scandinavia, I know that other countries--namely the Nordic countries -- have come up with far better and more democratic solutions. Many of the solutions of other countries could address our American problems. Another issue and one that I find particularly distressing is the American propensity to view government as intrisincly negative. Why don't you have a program on other societies concerpts of government and the functioning of government in those societies. Here, again I am particularly interested in making known to my fellow Americans the ways in which the Nordic countries have shaped their government and societies. We need desparately to have a more informed citizenry. I cannot thank you eough for the constructive work which you have done.
Thankyou for the superior journalism presented by Mr. Krulwich and your reserach team. It is painfully difficult to convince any young person why they should vote in the face of the information you present. I teach graduate students and their cynicism, despite motor-voter registration and other sops to democracy. As an immigrant and 25 year citizen I weep for this adopted land, where good might be possible. Do the cheap platitudes of the 60's actually apply to 1995 after all? Pete Wilson: the corrupt real estate developer from San Diego. Phil Gramm: a Texas Gun of a Man. Bob "Pineapple" Dole: At last the return of the one-armed Nixon.
This was an exceptional report on the behind the scenes practices our future leaders presidential campaigns. I wish every voter would be required to see your excellent program before making their decisions. I would also like to show my appreciation for the objectivity of the report. The practices of both the major parties and even the independents was clearly shown. Please keep up the good work.
While watching your episode on 'Buy A President,' I found myself actually taking notes; I found it all so intriguing... After learning of the various telecom company donations, it appears to be such a bargain they donate a few hundred thousand for millions worth of business surrounding the internet. I really have nothing profound to add or suggest, but I enjoy the ability Frontline (& PBS) offers for feedback. It's interesting how I begin to watch & enjoy a program, only to realize time (& time again) it is a Frontline episode. I believe this one was my third. Now, I intend to make an effort to watch... something I seldom do with tv shows in general.
Steve J. Champion
Your show was excellent in its scope and detail. Likewise, it was very balanced it pointing out that both parties play the same game. I think most Americans know this is going on. The magnitude of what is happening has increased dramatically over the past few elections due to the increased cost of running for high office. The real question is what do we do about it. I think it would have been good if you had focused on some of the current candidates and their positions on reforming the system as well as what they have actually done about it! The last segment where you showed Gingrich and Clinton shaking hands on a "deal" to actually do something was very to the point. I watched that meeting last summer and was under the impression that something would be done about it!! Why does the press NOT focus on these kinds of things!!?? When you consider the amount of useless coverage and hearings on the Whitewater BS. What a waste! Keep up the good work. However, your work is INCOMPLETE unless you do a follow-up focusing on ways to fix the situation. Sincerely,
I can't remember when I've been so completely riveted to the TV, nor so appalled. Moment by moment, my already foundering faith in our government dipped even lower. This is truly a subject that no other network would touch, for obvious reasons. Thank you for, finally, shining a light on the worst blight of our government. I sincerely hope that all member stations can show this again, and again, throughout the '96 election cycle. Thank you, as well, for providing links, resources, and other pertinent information that we common, non-wealthy voters can use to try to change this positively putrid practice.
Always a supporter,
Just finished watching "so you want to buy a president"-- the contents should be the headline in every newspaper in the country. the voters in this country need to know the dirt in politics and the corruptions that exists. we must find a way to diminish the power of washington and return decisions about our lifes to the local level. the expose about all candidates needs to be told. hopefully there is someone running with character and a good moral background. certainly the likes of clinton, dole, gramma forbes do not qualify!
This story gets to the core of why I support and participate in public broadcasting. I have a better understanding of why certain political figues would like to see PBS weakened or eliminated. The Gallo brothers may help corrupt the political system with their millions, but I can have a bigger impact with my hundreds. You've got my total support.
Terra Bella, California
Thank you for the extremely useful information about how a campaign is funded and how the funding is paid back in political considerations. Campaign funding reform is long overdue but I am sure it will be a hard fight. It is frightening to see the money charts and see in whose pockets the candidates appear to be. With this information, perhaps we the voters can put pressure directly on these few who seek to put their interests ahead of the majority. We can also put pressure on our politicians to change the system and behave more responsibly. At the very least, my vote will be a more informed vote. Thank you again.
I found the program to be one of the most insightful citizen aid in late 20th century American politics. It seemed fair and reasonably impartial in showing the effects of money on both parties. I think the program calls for reform in the way that Edward R. Murrow's "Harvest of Shame" brought reform to exploitation of migrant workers. Now it is the politicians who are exploited and the voters, the public good and general welfare ignored in political preferences given to narrow, moneyed interests. I have followed the work of Kevin Phillips in his work on PBS as well as in his books. His insights are marvelous. Is there any room left for vision in politics or is it just "interest" that shapes public policy. Where did Madison's balance of mutual interests go? Will the follow up on this program suggest comparative analysis with how other government's avoid these pitfalls of undue influence of narrow interests in American politics? Thanks for your good work! I ! appreciated the program even though it was a little too depressing. A suggestion: take a look at how tax structures and government expenditures for education, social services and infrastructure compare with America's tax burden, structure and services. Do lots of charts and interviews then compare inner city safety, cleanliness and other indices of general well being. We may be wealthy but we may not have the best "general welfare" in the world. Are we really living up to our constitutional goals in assuring that the "general welfare" in being promoted? Or is the national government focused too much on the welfare of a few to the detriment of the many?
Dr. James B. Hunt
Though I am glad you covered the material that you did, I wish you had delved deeper into Dwayne Anderas and ADM. I have had a hunch about him for years. Tidbits suggest the governments involvement in the ethanol program have given ADM a windfall. Due to their well made advertising campaign, some people even think ADM is some kind of environmental company. I remember Dwayne Andreas making a statement something like "If ADM didn't produce tomorrow our cities would shortly run out of bread." Kind of a scary statement, if looked at a certain way. It hasn't escaped me that ADM also has become the sponser for about any show that might be a critic. Can the media be bought, also? I did hear on public radio, a show documenting some of ADM's predatory business practices. If I remember right, the show was supported by funding from ADM yet was highly critical of it's business practices. Do controversial companies sometimes try to buy the media. I notice most of the sunday morning media shows are sponsered by ADM - which also supports or sponsers about every business and financial show on cable and public television alike. I remember something about Sam Donaldson and Dwayne Andreas have vaction condos next to each other and being friends. I wonder about things like stock investmest by media people. There seems to be so much money involved in the mainstream media,(even some some multimillion dollar salaries), are some of the media people ever wined and dined by the people of influence? Just some concerns from middle America.
I do not know whether to praise you or damn you.. I being from middle america and of conservative background, this was truly one of your finest documentaries. that was the praise...now..i have never been more disillusioned, dis-enfrancised, disgusted or depressed after being informed as to the inner workings of this american institution. we will lose america in the end, if we continue to sell it off.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Robert Krulwich's expose of campaign financing was a beautiful example of educational television, For a long time now, I have thought that campaign finance reform is the most important issue in American life today. Forget about a flat tax for now. Forget about terrorism from within. Forget about health care. None of our problems will come close to being solved until we first get money out of politics. This society won't come together until people feel they have an equal voice in the decisions that affect their lives. "Taxation without representation" has been and always will be a justification for revolution. The problem is finding a way to get money out of politics. Perdonally, I'd like to see all political TV ads abolished, so that candidates would have to rely on debates to get their message across. In any case, the first step in changing the system is to remind the public regularly that the system is corrupt. I'm glad that your program did just that, and I'm equally glad that you were even-handed. Both political parties are guilty of being influenced by money, and I'd hate to see you criticized for taking sides. Keep up the good work.
Thanks for providing an informative insight into politics, pacs, appointment of directors and the apparent need for a change in our political system. perhaps, with the increasing number of people accessing the net we may be able to shape politics and our democracy. I suspect, however, the pornographic web sites will continue with a million hits a day and the professional sites will average a thousand. Due to low voter turnout in the united states, as compared to other democracies it appears a select few determine the power elected elite. would politicians become more responsive to their constituents if their constituents were working voters. It will be interesting to see if voter turnout increases with the mail-in vote in oregon. I digress from my original point, thanks for a thought provoking program.
Why didn't the labor and other unions make it on your show? At the end of the show I was wondering about labor/unions role in this issue. I took you suggestion of checking out this site for more detailed information. I was supprised what I found under the Democratic "soft money" chart. The Number one contributor was the NEA followed by AFSCME, and in fact, 8 of the top 17 listed were labor or union related. Why were these organizations, and PBS's own for that matter, contributions not scrutinized along with all the others. True reform is needed! I think the most radical approachs may be necessary.
Thank you for another fine program. Your indepth research and inciteful synthesis of the evidence has once again provided for an informative as well as chilling account of the reality of political influence. One can only hope that bringing forth such documentation will influence change. As a supporter of public broadcasting, I will continue to look forward to more fine programming.
Thank you again.
I just watched your program and wanted to comment. I understand that these days you have to be sensitive to claims of Liberal bias in public broad casting, but I think you went a bit overboard in your implication that President Clinton makes public policy mainly based on favors owed to major contributers. I think President Clinton is doing very well with the hand he has been dealt. You all should be applauded in your attack on the system itself, but I think it's clear that the current system favors the Republicans more than the Democrats. Clinton would endorse campaign reform, as he said, "in a heartbeat." Nearly at the end of your program you pointed out that *all* of those on Ron Brown's trip to China who had contributed in a major way to the Democratic Party had also done so to the Republican Party. *That* is the problem! The rich will have acess no matter who is elected. We do indeed need to find a way to insure that those who have the ear of our leadership are the best and brightest, not just merely the richest and most well connected. The problem is that that seems to require a change in human nature itself.
Thank you for your efforts on tonights show. It is of great importance to the understanding of how government must change. There is an uneasy feeling about the government and shows such as this help explain why. I just returned from Napa Valley last week. I'm a wine enthusiast. The one thing that struct me most about Napa was the wealth. Having watched your show I was astounded. I am personally a big fan of Matanzas Creek who definitely doesn't require any assistant with the great wines they produce, and they are proud to admit it. Why in the world then would an enormous operation like Gallo need assistance. The last time I checked I didn't see any Chilean jug wine on the shelfs of the local Farmer Jacks. Finally I wonder how much more I am paying right now in order to use the services of the AT&T's and MCI's as a result of some potentially beneficial legislation.
Possibly the most important program this season. As a member of a number of underclasses--small (tiny) business man, middle? classer small townie, middle ager, middle westerner--I am becoming increasingly disgruntified with the only current American value: money, money, money. Hamlet said "To be or not to be." America says "to buy or not to buy." As long as money controls politics and life in general we will continue to the plague of social problems,
Wow! Your program on the buying of the president provides a most comprehesive look at today's campaign finance activities. PBS' ability to put the latest headlines into an in-depth presentation is impressive. I was suprised at the virtual absence of partisan blame-shifting and finger-pointing and felt that the issues addressed were both informative and compelling. Bravo, PBS!
What a great, informative program. The information content, detail and balanced presentation earn high marks for credibility. While it may be fashionable to "trash" politicians, this show traces the smoke back to the fire and leads one to wonder if our low regard for politicians is still too high. I am horrified at the ease with which money flows from people and organizations to buy their "indulgences". This show should be required viewing for all Americans now and just prior to any voting exercise. Perhaps we would more thoughtfully consider the candidates and their qualifications.
Keith J Maxwell
Incredible! One of the most important pieces of journalism since All The President's Men. Why can't CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN bring us this kind of news? Perhaps because their employees are also suckling from the teat, i.e. Pat Buchanan and farmer Sam Donaldson. Every high school senior in this country should be required to watch "So You Want To Buy A President" before they're allowed to graduate or vote.
Kevin D. Greene