Welcome to the revised Web site of THE PEOPLE & THE POWER GAME - updated to provide new links and materials on the 1996 elections, media coverage of the 1996 campaign, the new balance of power between Congress and the White House, the rising debate over money in politics and the new push for campaign finance reform.
This Web site uses the reporting and analysis presented in THE PEOPLE& THE POWER GAME- a four-hour PBS documentary and discussion series which explores the relationship between four crucial power centers of American government: The Presidency, the Congress, the Media and the Lobbies.
The series, first broadcast nationwide on two evenings in September 1996, has been scheduled by PBS for a rerun in February and March 1997. Check your local TV listings or call your PBS station for dates and times in your area.
The first two-hour program, "The Unelected:The Lobbies and The Media" shows how these two unelected power centers have grown into a shadow government with great influence on American democracy. The 1996 election broke all records for political spending - nearly $2 billion was spent by parties and candidates in federal elections. Even before election day, the Clinton campaign was accused of taking illegal foreign contributions, and the Democratic party charged Republican nominee Robert Dole with exceeding the legal spending limits in his primary campaign. We have linked to several sites that are closely following the money trail.
The media's role in covering elections, a subject of our documentary, continues to spur controversy. Under pressure to serve the voters during the 1996 campaign, several networks agreed to provide limited amounts of free air time to presidential candidates, though the public paid little attention. We offer several links to organizations that focus on the quality and tenor of media political coverage. These can be found on "The Unelected: The Lobbies and The Media"
The second two-hour program, "The Elected:The
Presidency & Congress" examines the Clinton Presidency and
Speaker Newt Gingrich's "Republican Revolution," and show the
two collided in an epic power struggle over the federal budget that influenced
the 1996 election outcome. In the new Congress, Speaker Gingrich has been
publicly reprimanded and fined by the House of Representatives after admitting
an Ethics violation on campaign funding, leaving his leadership weakened.
The Clinton campaign and the Democratic party also faced investigation for
campaign law violations, even as the President has called for campaign reform.
We offer new links to materials on the new
agendas of the Republican Congress and the Democratic White House.
Each of our two documentaries is followed by a Voter's Forum to evaluate the performance of government and to discuss potential reforms for making our democracy work more effectively. The forum consists of a small panel of experienced public officials and experts along with a group of two dozen voters carefully selected from across the country to represent the voting public.
We have also produced two companion pieces for the PBS NewsHour on the Republican class elected to the House in 1994 - probably the most powerful class of new members in decades. In the first 15 minute piece, we tell the story of the freshman battle for survival in the 1996 elections through the campaigns of three very different freshmen, all targeted by the Democratic party and the AFL-CIO. In the second 15 minute piece, we tell a classic story of American democracy in action - "The Greening of the Class of '94" - the evolution of the class from its first 100 Days as the revolutionary shock troops in Speaker Newt Gingrich's political army to the reflections of several class members after nearly two years in office. These stories can be found on the Freshman pages.
Since The People & The Power Game first aired in 1996, we have been
carefully tracking the issue of campaign finance reform. Hedrick Smith Productions
has produced with the Newshour 3 separate programs that deal with Campaign
Finance. All of these programs aired on The Newshour in March 1997. Information
on these programs can be found on the Campaign
Finance '97 pages. We will add links to the full transcript from The
Newshour site as they become available.
We have designed this site to be a companion to the series. Here you can watch live video clips (no waiting for downloads) from the documentary, download the full version of the teachers guide to be printed and distributed, read excerpts from some of the over 100 interviews that we conducted, and most importantly -- participate in your own on-line voters forum chat area.
I hope that you enjoy using our site and treat it as an extension of the programs. We will continue to update these pages from time to time, so besure to check back.
THE PEOPLE & THE POWER GAME, a primetime series under the PBS Democracy Project, is hosted by Hedrick Smith. Mr. Smith is a former New York Times Washington Bureau Chief. He is the author of several best-selling books, including "The Russians" and "The Power Game: How Washington Works." Mr. Smith has also produced several PBS documentary series including "Inside Gorbachev's USSR," "The Power Game" and "Challenge To America."