Tags: Hollywood's | Pro-Gore | Frenzy | Might | Backfire

Hollywood's Pro-Gore Frenzy Might Backfire

Thursday, 02 November 2000 12:00 AM

Tim Graham, spokesman for the Media Research Center, the parent organization of CNSNews.com, detects a bias in the program.

"I think it clearly looks like a ploy by ABC News to get Gore elected, or it's a ploy to attract people to their program by making the appearance they are trying to get Gore elected," he said.

However, Streisand is only one of many Hollywood stars to come out for the vice president.

Reportedly, Streisand accepted ABC's offer to do the "20-20" interview only if she could discuss her belief that Gore is the better candidate for the White House.

The reaction from viewers will probably vary, Graham said, depending on the brand of questions Walters asks.

"If the questioning allows her to go on about whatever she wants without any challenge, I think it will go both ways. People who like her will be persuaded, and people who don't like her may be persuaded the other way.

"But there is the possibility that [Walters] will hit [Streisand] with some tough questions, which I think she would have a rougher time with," Graham said.

Ed Bark, television critic for the Dallas Morning News, said Streisand's interview would not change voters' attitudes toward the election. In fact, Bark predicts that if Streisand goes on "20/20" and just focuses on Gore, many voters will be turned off.

"I can't imagine anyone deciding to vote for a particular candidate because Barbra Streisand told you to vote for them," Bark said. "I think voters will resent something like that because it is so apparently calculated ... airing less than a week before the election.

"If she does go on '20/20' just to plug for Al Gore, I think it will be pretty transparent, and I think there could be a backlash."

Walter Shapiro, a columnist for USA Today, has observed campaigns for 20 years and says that in his experience, celebrities have never had much influence on voters.

"I think for the most part, [it's] because very few celebrities are articulate about explaining politics, and I'm dubious whether it makes any difference," Shapiro said.

"Let us merely say that an undecided voter who can be swayed by Barbra Streisand, I don't think that that was somebody who was on the fence."

Shapiro added that the only influence celebrities have on elections is maybe a "small effect on voter turnout."

Bark agrees that Hollywood stars overestimate their ability to persuade others.

"I think the Hollywood people would like to think they have influence, but they really don't," Bark said.

" I don't think anyone listening to Barbra Streisand and Jerry Seinfeld telling them to vote for Gore would actually do it. People can see through those things."

Graham said that because Hollywood celebrities are consistent in their voting patterns, they can't be very influential.

"I would have to say since they always seem to have the same opinion, they always back the Democrat in every election, so they can't have that much influence," Graham said.

"I suppose in a race this close, it should concern Republicans. But it is pretty much a perennial event that they all line up for the Democrat."

Bark said President Clinton started the trend in 1988, when he appeared on the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson after giving a lengthy speech at the Democratic National Convention that was roundly criticized. On the show, Clinton made fun of himself, a practice still used in 2000.

In his run for the White House in 1992, Clinton went on the "Arsenio Hall Show" and MTV, while then-President George Bush stuck to more traditional programs such as "Larry King Live."

"I think that was the beginning to this trend toward not doing serious news programs, where "Meet the Press" and "Face the Nation" are no longer considered the primary spots," Bark said.

"It kind of lapsed in '96 when Clinton really didn't need to make those appearances anymore and Dole was uncomfortable with that whole arena. It really has picked up with a vengeance because they are trying to reach these uncommitted voters."

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Tim Graham, spokesman for the Media Research Center, the parent organization of CNSNews.com, detects a bias in the program. I think it clearly looks like a ploy by ABC News to get Gore elected, or it's a ploy to attract people to their program by making the appearance...
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2000-00-02
Thursday, 02 November 2000 12:00 AM
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