Raw footage shot for the award-winning series The 90's. This tape features members of Congress suggesting people they'd like to see run for president, plus footage inside Roll Call, a newspaper specifically for and about members of Congress.
00:00Copy video clip URL Standing in front of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, videographer Eddie Becker interviews various congressmen and women about who they would like to see run for President. Jill Long (Jill Long Thompson), representative from Indiana, introduces herself and says Lee H. Hamilton would be a good choice for president noting his high integrity and that he is well versed in foreign and domestic issues. When asked which issues are most important to women, Long responds that economic issues are important because women’s incomes don’t equal that of men. Also, issues that relate to family, such as education and environment, are important to women.
02:03Copy video clip URL She says that to get into government office takes hard work, dedication and a willingness to make sacrifices. The videographer asks if it’s easier for incumbents to raise campaign money than those just starting out. Long agrees that it is. “That’s why we need campaign finance reform.” Long notes she ran twice and lost before being elected.
03:33Copy video clip URL Long says her new district will not come with any big changes.
04:13Copy video clip URL Congressman Gene Taylor from Mississippi starts to say who he thinks would make a good president when his beeper goes off. He says the next president should be someone willing to submit a balanced budget to Congress. “We need someone like Franklin Delano Roosevelt.” He adds that we need someone who will appoint people to the trade talks who will look out for America’s interests. Taylor says he doesn’t think Bush is the man for the job.
06:11Copy video clip URL Taylor notes that he comes from south Mississippi where the major industries are ship building, seafood, textiles, forestry products and related agriculture. He says south Mississippi is filled with fourth and fifth generation immigrants from Yugoslavia, Spain, France, Vietnam. The opportunities they initially came for are now being shipped out overseas. When asked if it’s difficult to get elected to Congress, Taylor notes that he ran for an open seat and never had to challenge someone. But he says it’s a challenge because it’s too big to go door-to-door. It takes money. “I had a lot of good people helping me.”
07:54Copy video clip URL Representative Michael Andrews, from Houston, Texas, introduces himself and says that Lloyd Bentsen, the Texas Senator, would make a great candidate for President. He argues that the south, and Texas specifically, is crucial in a presidential election. He notes Bentsen stands for the mainstream issues most Americans identify with and he reflects the qualities needed in the White House.
09:16Copy video clip URL Andrews notes that he represents a diverse group in Houston. It’s a microcosm of Texas: from the ship channel, to Rice University Medical Center, to the Johnson Space Center. “We have a little bit of everything.” He refutes a statement from the videographer that he received most of his campaign dollars from insurance companies.
10:19Copy video clip URL Congressman Charles Bennett from Florida says he thinks Rockefeller would make a good President. He also thinks Congressman Harkin would be a good choice. “I originally wanted Mr. Gephardt to run.” He says the qualities needed to run for the presidency include having confidence in yourself, a knowing reason why you are the best candidate, and a passion to accomplish something worthwhile. The issues will be the health issues and the budget. He adds, “If I wasn’t eighty years old I’d run myself.”
14:01Copy video clip URL Congressman John Conyers from Michigan introduces himself and says we need a presidential candidate who will help heal the needs of America: creating a national health care system with universal coverage, education, and rebuilding our cities dealing with drug and employment issues. He says Tom Harkin, Senator Kerrey, and Rev. Jesse Jackson can define the difference between the Reagan/Bush era which, in his opinion was harmful.
17:17Copy video clip URL Representative Peter Hoagland of Nebraska says we need a presidential candidate with leadership capacity. “I believe Bob Kerrey is an ideal candidate.” He notes that Kerrey’s major adult experiences speak to leadership: an authentic war hero, a member of the Navy SEALS, he started a restaurant chain called Grandmother’s Restaurant, and became Governor of Nebraska.
20:05Copy video clip URL Congressman Sandy Levin from Michigan says that the next presidential candidate needs to be someone who can lead on the country’s economic issues. He thinks the present president doesn’t acknowledge the problem and that the economic problem leads to other stagnation in various aspects of the country. He thinks we need an economic package that’s tough on trade issues and that gets American industry moving again, education and training programs, and a health system that meets the needs of the people.
23:18Copy video clip URL Representative Jim Oberstar from Minnesota says he represents a diversified area that includes mining, logging, resorts, diary farming and the Port of Duluth. He says that in 1992 the Democrats need a candidate who can inspire the people and add spiritual élan. He believes Tom Harkin is the candidate.
25:50Copy video clip URL Representative Esteban Torres from California records three takes of his introduction stating that he believes a woman like Governor Ann Richards of Texas would make a good candidate, someone who will come to grips with domestic problems: housing, economy, education, crime, drugs as well as world issues.
30:15Copy video clip URL Gary Caruso, staff member in the House of Representatives, introduces himself and says the kind of presidential candidate he’d like to see is someone with passion, someone who is on the right side of the issues, being for the little person. He jokingly says he thinks one person who might be a good candidate is “Melissa, from [the TV show] The 90’s administrative team. And the other would be Mario Cuomo.”
31:08Copy video clip URL B-roll of people entering the Capitol Building.
31:10Copy video clip URL Congressman John W. Cox, Jr, from the 16h District in Illinois, says we need a candidate who is willing to deal with the fiscal issue honestly. He believes Dave McCurdy would make a good candidate. “He knows where he stands on issues.”
34:34Copy video clip URL Congressman Jose Serrano representing the Bronx, New York, says he would like to see Jesse Jackson run for president because then he knows America’s poor will have a voice. He notes that if the US can liberate Kuwait, it should be able to liberate the poor in the South Bronx.
36:45Copy video clip URL Congressman Bill Richardson from New Mexico says he represents a large population of minorities: Native Americans and Hispanics. The person he would like to see run for president is someone who has the eloquence of John F. Kennedy, the grace of Mickey Mantle, the dignity of Katherine Hepburn, and the fiery passion of someone like Jesse Jackson. “There is no such person right now,” he says, but that person will emerge. He would like to see a president who is ethnic.
40:10Copy video clip URL On the issue of raising money for a political campaign, Richardson thinks it is debilitating and humiliating because you are spending time that could be used to get votes and get your ideas across. You have to rely on people with money to get your ideas across. Fundraising is a necessary evil. He would prefer that we have public financing and let both candidates have the same advantages and disadvantages.
45:33Copy video clip URL Change of location. Exterior the Roll Call Building. The videographer enters. B-roll of the office. The videographer walks into the editors office. The editor introduces himself as Jim Glassman. He notes that Roll Call is a community newspaper for Congress. It was established in 1955. “We treat Congress as though it were a small town and chronicle the goings-on.” He notes that they don’t cover legislation, and adds that they are more interested in the people. A recent story the paper has been covering is the series of checks that are being bounced at the House bank. He says that a lot of the stories they publish gets picked up in other newspapers because the bureaus in Washington receive Roll Call. He says they have a circulation of 15,000.
48:28Copy video clip URL Glassman notes that Congress really is like a community and it’s the only part of Government that could have its own publication because culturally it is quite different from the rest of Washington. It’s geographically isolated, Congress has a much stronger sense of tradition than the other parts of Government, and members of Congress serve longer than officials in the administration.
50:27Copy video clip URL Glassman takes the videographer, Eddie Becker, to reporter Tim Burger who broke the story on checks being bounced. Tim Berger is on the phone, on hold about to go live on a radio show. He says that right now he and his colleagues are working on a story about House members who haven’t paid their dining bill, three hundred thousand dollars in bills that date back to 1987. Congressman Pat Roberts is leading the charge to see that the bills are paid. On the topic of the bounced check story, Burger suggests it became a big story because it’s a subject everyone can relate to.
52:31Copy video clip URL A fellow reporter, Susan Glasser, notes that someone from Palm Beach radio called to see if a reporter could come on the air to talk about the bounced checks story. She says she is working on a story about the special election to replace Congressman Bill Gray of Pennsylvania as Majority Whip. Glasser says it sounds like it’s not a very interesting story until you realize that Gray resigned after the date on which they were supposed to have an election in November. “He wanted to screw this guy who is his main political opponent.” She notes that now the courts in Philadelphia have made this move useless.
54:25Copy video clip URL Glasser notes that there’s always something to report on. A Congressman recently resigned, Dennis Eckart. When asked what it’s like for a woman covering the Hill, Glasser notes that there aren’t many women reporters. She notes that Congress is largely older white men. “It’s not the mot receptive, progressive atmosphere.” She takes a phone call.
56:50Copy video clip URL The videographer runs into a friend of his, Glenn Simpson, a reporter. He takes the videographer into his office to meet his co-worker Craig Winneker. He shows off his office which is covered with piles of papers.
58:17Copy video clip URL B-roll of Burger on the phone giving his radio interview. B-roll of the Roll Call office. A dot matrix printer prints something.
59:34Copy video clip URL Videographer interviews Debbie Wilde, features editor. She notes that the Features part of the newspaper is a giant Op Ed section. She takes a phone call.
01:03:31Copy video clip URL The videographer approaches a female photographer. She shows a contact sheet from an appearance by Billy Joel. She gives a tour of the dark room and shows how the film stock gets processed, washed, and covered in a chemical called Photo Flow to help it dry faster. She hangs the film up to dry. She says the Congressmen love being photographed, love the publicity. She shows the videographer various fun photos of Congressmen such as Jesse Helms meeting Barbara Bush with a surprised look on his face. When asked if it’s to her advantage to be a women photographing Members of Congress she says it is maybe at parties.
01:10:12Copy video clip URL The photography intern notes that he recently had trouble with the Capitol police. He says they are strict as to where you can go. He says he’s been trying to photograph the West front construction, but you need permission from the architect. He shows the camera that he uses: a Nikon 808S. He talks about the value of using a long lens. He says he enjoys documentary style photography.
01:14:13Copy video clip URL B-roll of reporter Simpson and his colleague Winneker at their desks. Interview with Simpson. They talk about the use of video on television. Simpson says he is going to be on Fox morning news tomorrow morning to talk about an issue with the Senate Ethics Committee. They talk about the issue. Becker asks Simpson about his own ethics.
01:16:58Copy video clip URL Simpson answers that a reporter can get very unscrupulous very quick. “Who are you to write about what someone else did that’s wrong?” Simpson illustrates by saying that he’s bounced checks and pays the fees. “But I don’t feel like a bad person because I bounce a check, I just make them good… someone could easily pull my records and say, ‘Look! Glenn Simpson bounced a dozen checks. Who is this guy to be reporting on bounced checks?’ It’s a haunting thing.”
01:18:53Copy video clip URL Simpson tells of the stories he’s broken. They’ve had to do with savings and loans and ethics, detailed accounts of lobbying campaigns, “deals made out of the public view.” He says one story centered on a member of the House of Representatives representing Alabama who had gone to a defense contractor to give a speech. It was later revealed the man had bought stock in that contractor’s company about the same time suggesting that he had inside information suggesting an abuse of office. It ended up being front page news in Alabama. Simpson adds there usually is never a smoking gun in these cases, making it very difficult to prove anything.
01:23:15Copy video clip URL Winneker adds that because of the nature of disclosure today, politicians can get away with far less than their predecessors. He says there is a legalized form of bribery in the gifts members of Congress accept. If you sit on the Energy and Commerce committee and someone from the cable television industry pays for you and your wife to go to Hawaii for a week no one will be stupid enough to think that doesn’t affect how the member of congress votes in the committee.
01:25:20Copy video clip URL Simpson adds that even though things like this have been going on for years, today there is a systematic form of disclosure. Everyone files a record each year noting who paid for their trips, etc. Simpson thinks all this information should be public for the people to decide who deserves to be re-elected. This is a large part of our job, to give voters the opportunity to weigh this information and make that decision. Simpson notes that there are not a lot of journalists versed in knowing how to read these documents. He suggests there needs to be.
01:27:50Copy video clip URL Simpson and Winneker talk about the column they write, they bring up a sample on the computer screen and read a sample. They share an article from September 26, 1991 in which they researched how many journalists appeared on C-SPAN. The Washington Post had 27 appearances, the Washington Times had 19, Time Magazine had 16.
01:31:39Copy video clip URL Simpson takes a phone call. B-roll of Simpson on the phone talking to a colleague.
01:32:45Copy video clip URL Winneker, the Associate Editor of Roll Call, hangs up from a call saying that he just talked to a reporter from The Boston Herald asking if he knew which senators from Massachusetts bounced checks. We are calling all the senators asking if they’ve ever bounced a check at the House bank. This issue is gripping the nation this week. He notes there are some members of Congress who realize it’s wiser to say they’ve bounced a check, if indeed they had, and own up to it. He adds there is a list out there of who bounced checks and these list have a way of finding their way into the public. If a person denies bouncing a check and then it is proven they did bounce a check, that person is in serious trouble. Winneker adds that he writes a kind of gossip column for the paper called Heard on the Hill. He says tomorrow his story is about all the reporters on the Hill calling around asking who has bounced a check. It turns out several reporters with Congressional press credentials have bounced checks at the House bank.
01:36:22Copy video clip URL B-roll of various office activity: people talking, people on the phone.
01:36:38Copy video clip URL Stacy Mason, Managing Editor, talks about the paper’s Hill Climbers feature detailing all the new staffers, staff changes. People on the Hill love it. When asked for a sample of the kind of story they publish, Mason tells of a new admin who has a unique connection to the office and the person she is replacing.
01:38:28Copy video clip URL Laura Pearlman, copy editor, tells more Hill Climber stories: a senator’s wife who became an administrative assistant in a Congressman’s office. She says they get their information a lot of times from the office itself that will fax details to the newsroom. Sometimes you have to cold call. She says the best part of her job is seeing the results of her efforts published.
01:41:26Copy video clip URL Simpson takes Becker into the layout room where Matt shows how he lays out the front page on a computer screen using a template. They note the headline for the new edition: Some Congressional Practices Must End. It’s an editorial. Simpson says that it’s unprecedented to run an editorial on the front page.
01:44:38Copy video clip URL Glassman, the editor who wrote the piece, says he has never run something like this before and talks about his decision to lead the paper off with this story. “I think the institution is under serious attack and it’s time to do something about it.” He notes the headline refers to some trivial practices that have real impact such as bouncing checks at the House bank and the now-famous members-only ambulance. He notes that a staffer was recently injured and had to wait 45-minutes for a DC ambulance to show up. All the time another ambulance was sitting right out front, but the employee was not allowed to use it because she was not a member of Congress. Glassman notes that the thinking on the Hill was that in the 10- or 15-minutes it would have taken for the ambulance to drive the woman to the hospital a Congressman might have had a heart attack. He adds, “It’s ridiculous.”
01:46:51Copy video clip URL Karen, the reporter who wrote the ambulance story, talks more about the episode. It started with a call that an elevator operator had fallen and was injured. She had to wait 46 minutes for an ambulance. The reporter later discovered there was a members-only ambulance waiting out front all along. “Little stories like this can blow up. It leads. It grows.” She notes that Roll Call publishes these kind of little stories that most papers would overlook, and sometimes they turn into bigger issues.
01:48:49Copy video clip URL Interview with Jonathan who is working on a list of 435 Members of Congress, cold calling and asking them if they’ve ever bounced a check. He says he’s been calling the L-Z list and notes the ones who admit to bouncing a check include: Jim Oberstar, David Obey, Wayne Owens. He says that many Congressman don’t realize they bounced a check until they called them about it. The bank never notified them. He talks about what it was like to call dozens and dozens of Congressmen about the issue. In general most people were polite. Schultz’s office said they were doing their own survey of reporters who bounced checks. He takes a phone call. B-roll of Jonathan on phone, taking notes.
01:53:28Copy video clip URL B-roll of a print of tomorrow’s front page layout. “It goes to press tonight.” Becker asks for a copy of the print out.
01:55:16Copy video clip URL Becker looks at various photos on politicians: Lloyd Bentsen, the Vice President, the House Ethics Committee, the Capitol Police, the State of the Union, Howard Metzenbaum. They show a series of photos of Congressman in their youth – baby photos and photos as young men and women. It is part of a contest the paper ran to see who could guess members based on baby pictures. Some of the photos include: Strom Thurman, Pat Schroeder, Paul Wellstone, George Brown, Charlie Wilson, Kweisi Mfume, Susan Molinari.
01:59:20Copy video clip URL Stacy, the editor who created the contest, notes about female members of Congress: there are fewer of them, things are tougher for them. They recently got their own restroom on the House floor. “And a thousand other problems they’re still dealing with.” Stacy notes one story the paper did on salary differentials between male and female staffers.
02:00:39Copy video clip URL Videographer Becker records himself giving notes to the video editor.
02:01:06Copy video clip URL END