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CNN's Bernard Shaw: The view of the 2000 election from the anchor desk

December 21, 2000
1 p.m. EST

Bernard Shaw is CNN's principal Washington, D.C., anchor. On Feb. 28, 2001, Shaw is to retire from his duties at CNN. He has been with CNN since the network's inception in 1980.

CNN Moderator: Welcome to the CNN online chat room, Bernard Shaw.

Bernard Shaw: Thank you! Thank you for joining us.

CNN Moderator: When you look back on this election year, from the primaries to the post-election events, what are some of your most memorable moments and images?

Bernard Shaw: Election 2000 was a collage -- from John McCain's head-turning upset victories over Governor Bush in New Hampshire and Michigan; to Bush's bouncing back in South Carolina and ultimately sweeping the South; to both Bush's and Gore's excellent convention acceptance speeches; to Senator Lieberman's unprecedented selection for the Democratic ticket; to Lieberman's and Dick Cheney's fine convention acceptance speeches, --and certainly, their brilliant comportment in their lone vice presidential debate at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky -- to the stomach-turning up and down Election Night mistakes by CNN and the other networks -- with erroneous calls putting Florida first in Gore's column, then Bush's column, then too close to call -- to the court challenges and counter-challenges, and ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court's defining 5-4 ruling; to the present transition period, with the nation's intense interest in the president-elect's appointments. It was quite a political collage, seen by all.

Presidential Transition

Question from Tinydot: Ultimately, do you think that all of the court cases and challenges that this election presented will be good or bad for the country's declining interest in politics and democracy in general?

Bernard Shaw: What happened in Election 2000 is the best prescription for heightened American voter interest. The mantra is true; every vote does count.

A massive reform of this nation's voting apparatus and voting procedures -- from the White House to the State House to the courthouse -- most definitely will unfold virtually immediately.

Voter mechanism reforms clearly are desperately needed, and in time, the American people shall have them. We will find that in retrospect the extraordinary presidential election, which exposed troubling faults in our system, will have been providence for us as a nation.

CNN Moderator: As you watched Bush and Gore during the course of the conventions and campaign, what were the most interesting changes in their campaign and styles?

Bernard Shaw: Basically, most fascinating to me was watching each candidate enjoy his successes and try to recover from campaign trail setbacks, defeats and mistakes. In thinking of Governor Bush, there was his resiliency after losing Michigan and New Hampshire to Senator McCain, when he bounced back with a win in South Carolina and selected the seasoned Dick Cheney as a running mate.

Bush also recovered from his Bob Jones University appearance, by his naming of African-Americans Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice to prominent positions in his administration.

For Vice President Gore, clearly his Los Angeles convention declaration of "I am my own man" was his boldest attempt to step out of President Clinton's shadow, and do so boldly by -- among other things -- naming, for the first time in our nation's history, a Jew as his running mate, Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman. They seemed to electrify their party base as much as Bush and Cheney.

Question from Ex Sheep: Mr. Shaw, how would you change the way news is reported in general?

Bernard Shaw: In local newsgathering and reporting, if I had the power and influence, I would cease with the numbing and daily emphasis on crime. Primarily, because such over-emphasis magnifies crime in people's minds and causes all of us to think that crime is more rampant and dominant than it actually is. Generally, local law enforcement statistics and certainly the FBI's bear this out. I would expand that de-emphasis of crime to the national scene.

Instead, I would concentrate energy, time and space -- be it on radio, television or newspapers -- on what is most important to the lives of citizens -- whether it be government-related, the arts, education or family.

Were I powerful, I would see that Americans received a beefed-up diet of international news, where I would make extra efforts -- through analysis and perspective -- to show Americans how what happens across oceans many times has a profound impact on their lives and the nation.

Looking internally within the news media, I would insist on a return to the basics of journalism. That is first getting the story right, rather than rushing on the air or into print with facts still dangling and information sometimes not fully confirmed.

CNN Moderator: Thank you for joining us today, Bernard Shaw.

Bernard Shaw: Thank you. Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy Kwanzaa to everyone, and a most reverent Ramadan.

Bernard Shaw joined us from Washington, D.C. provided a typist. The above is an edited transcript of the chat, which took place on Thursday, December 21, 2000.

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