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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Bush Prepared to Make Case for Domestic Issues; Is Kerry Documentary News or Propaganda?
Aired October 11, 2004 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAUL ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR, PRIME TIME POLITICS: Good evening and welcome. Thanks so much for joining us tonight on PRIME TIME POLITICS. He was the man of steel, but that was only make believe. Christopher Reeve's real legacy is an almost superhuman effort to promote stem cell research.
And this year it is also a potent political issue. Tonight we will take a special look back at the political and personal struggle of Christopher Reeve.
Also the nation's biggest owner of TV stations is ordering those stations to air an anti-Kerry documentary just days before the election in key states. We will put that move up for debate.
As the polls shift once again, the campaigns sharpen their attacks.
It is just 22 days until the election and just two days until the final Bush/Kerry debate. And now the voters have had the weekend to think about last Friday's debate. Our new polls show that Senator Kerry is emerging as the clear winner, but the presidential race remains neck and neck. Kerry is one point ahead among likely voters nationwide. It is a dead heat among registered voters. Tonight, we start with a look at the issues.
ZAHN (voice-over): John Kerry's biggest advantage over the president comes on the issues of stem cell research and the environment. He talked about both today, telling a New Mexico rally that on the day before he died, Christopher Reeve left a phone message thanking Kerry for talking about stem cell research in Friday night's debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The excitement in his voice was just really palpable and he was so thrilled about where the discussion of stem cell research had come to. So he would care about what we're talking about here today, because he was a passionate environmentalist. This is for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ZAHN: According to our new poll, Senator Kerry has a 29-point lead over President Bush when voters are asked who would best handle the environment and double digit leads on healthcare, stem cell research, Medicare, and handling the Federal budget deficit. Kerry has single-digit leads on Social Security, education, the economy, and abortion. Our poll shows President Bush has single-digit leads over Senator Kerry when voters are asked who can best handle the situation in Iraq and taxes. The president's biggest advantage is on terrorism. He has a 17-point lead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will never relent in defending America, whatever it takes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: The Bush team has seized on something Kerry told the Sunday "New York Times" magazine. Asked what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he replied, quote, we have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance. Kerry added that like prostitution and illegal gambling, his goal would be to get terrorism to the point where it's quoting again, something that you continue to fight but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.
Today in New Mexico, the president pounced on those remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: See, I couldn't disagree more. Our goal is not to reduce terror to some acceptable level of nuisance. Our goal is to defeat terror by staying on the offensive, destroying terrorist networks and spreading freedom and liberty around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: The president, the vice president and a new ad, all are focused on the same line of attack.
CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL: Terrorism, a nuisance, how can Kerry protect us when he doesn't understand the threat?
The Kerry campaign is using the president's own words to attack right back.
CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL: And on the war on terror, Bush said I don't think you can win it.
BUSH: I don't think you can win it.
CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL: Not with his failed leadership. It's time for a new direction.
ZAHN: Wednesday's debate is supposed to focus on domestic issues and terrorism certainly qualifies. Joining me from their respective headquarters in Washington are Kerry campaign senior adviser Joe Lockhart and Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman. Good to see both of you. Welcome back.
KEN MEHLMAN, BUSH CAMPAIGN MANAGER: How are you?
ZAHN: I'm fine thanks. So Joe, should John Kerry have used the word "nuisance" in reference to the ongoing threat from terrorism?
JOE LOCKHART, KERRY CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Listen, I'm not quite sure why the Bush campaign is kicking up such a fuss about this, because this is an issue that I think ultimately works against him. It was President Bush who said he didn't think we could win the war on terror and this attack seems to imply that they don't think we can win the war on terror. John Kerry thinks just the opposite. We will win. We have to and we can't get to the point in our lives where we just give up and say that from this point forward, terrorists will run our lives. (AUDIO GAP)
ZAHN: We apologize. We're having some technical problems. We'll take a short break and try to address that. We'll be right back.
ZAHN: Last night the world lost a courageous hero in Christopher Reeve after a very long struggle with paralysis. We can only imagine how Christopher Reeve, the pride he would have felt if he had known that John Kerry had dedicated a speech to him today. Reeve, confined to a wheelchair since a horseback riding accident nine years ago, died at the age of 52. He had campaigned fiercely against President Bush's ban on using new embryonic stem cells for research saying it frustrated efforts to treat diseases and conditions like his. Last November, I talked with Reeve about his crusade for a cure for paralysis. It was his first full interview without a respirator.
CHRISTOPHER REEVE, ACTOR: I firmly believe that medical research is the key to eliminating disease and reducing healthcare costs. The costs of Alzheimer's disease, $100 billion every year, Parkinson's disease, at least $6 billion a year, spinal cord injuries, $10 billion annually merely to maintain them.
ZAHN: You've gotten involved in a highly political charged environment -- insurance and stem cell research, how many people have you ticked off along the way? What kind of a lightning rod are you?
REEVE: Certainly the entire religious right, a lot of social conservatives, probably a lot of scientists, and some people in the disabled community who think that I shouldn't be going around talking about a cure.
As a patient, as someone sitting in a wheelchair, it's our prerogative to push and scientists of course are free to push back. We're not asking them to do things that are irresponsible, just don't make a career out of research. Think about the urgency, thing about people who are suffering. You know, and not all of them do all the time.
ZAHN: Some have called your work propaganda that undermines particularly the young and newly injured who are struggling to face reality, master it, and make a life for themselves from the wheelchairs.
ZAHN: They're almost calling you a bully, some of these critics.
REEVE: I was an actor for 30 years, and sometimes the critics love you, sometimes they don't.
ZAHN: But in your case, it's so personal.
ZAHN: It's got to hurt.
REEVE: It doesn't really hurt anymore, because people who would be critical of what I'm trying to do are in a lot of pain. They're probably in a lot worse situation than I am. So I understand that. I understand how someone could lash out.
ZAHN: And what about those people who are cynical, who say, look, millions of dollars spent on research, Chris has some feeling in his body now. He can control his index fingers, the sense of smell is back, but essentially life is pretty much the same for him.
REEVE: The fact that five years after the injury I developed the ability to move my arms and my legs was just a, you know, contradiction. It wasn't supposed to happen. So it's the principle of moving forward. It's the principle of taking an active part in your own future.
ZAHN: When do you see yourself walking again?
REEVE: Well, I know I said on my 50th birthday. Well, we missed that. But I think we're about five years behind where we could have been in this country because of the controversy over the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) research, particularly stem cell research. So it's going to depend on politics, on money, you know, in the next three to five years.
ZAHN: Why do some people think it's so cruel that you would even dream about walking again?
REEVE: They've been told it will never happen, and they buy into it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight we celebrate a remarkable breakthrough in spinal court injuries.
REEVE: A lot of people were very, very upset about that, but the copy didn't say how many years in the future. Who knows, right? ZAHN: You knew that the image of your walking would be unsettling to people. Is there a part of you that derives a little enjoyment out of the needling people and getting them to think a different way?
REEVE: I shouldn't do these interviews. I tell the truth too much. Absolutely.
ZAHN: How much fun is it?
REEVE: Well, I want to shake people up.
ZAHN: Do you think along the way you have given some in the paralysis community a sense of false hope?
REEVE: I don't think so. A lot of times people who have been injured for a very long time, 20, 25 years, they were injured before there was any legitimate reason to hope.
ZAHN: How do you view hope?
REEVE: Hope is different from optimism. Hope, to me, is the product of knowledge and the projection of where the knowledge can take us and also throwing in the willingness not to buy into conventional wisdom.
ZAHN: How much of your hope is spiritual?
REEVE: More than I thought, actually. Somebody sent me a quote from Abe Lincoln that he said in 1860. He said, when I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad and that's my religion. We all have a little voice inside of us that tells us whether we're doing something decent or not, something loving, something giving, something caring, but sometimes there's a lot of chatter in our lives, then it's hard to hear that little voice. That's why I have to learn to be quiet sometimes and listen and having this disability has given me that opportunity.
ZAHN: And in the next part of our interview, Christopher Reeve also revealed an even more personal side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REEVE: None of us are exempt (ph). It's a question of what we do afterwards, how we find the meaning. And once you can see that as an opportunity, rather than a complete disaster, then you can really get things done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: And we'll see more of that still ahead tonight. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: And we are back. Last week I hosted a town meeting in Racine, Wisconsin, with undecided voters from that battleground state where they asked their question straight to representatives of both President Bush and Senator Kerry. It was the night before Friday's debate. So then we sent our Tom Foremen to Racine to see if the debate swayed any of our undecideds.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the sun rose over Lake Michigan in the battleground town of Racine, undecided voter Curt Pruitt was putting his indecision aside.
CURT PRUITT, VOTING FOR JOHN KERRY: Homeless shelters have more families staying in them overnight.
FOREMAN: After years of watching neighbors struggle with the economy and months of listening to the candidates, he's voting for Kerry.
PRUITT: When I see President Bush responding a little too quickly, a little too vehemently to criticism of things that have happened, it smacks of the schoolboy that's been caught doing something he shouldn't and just saying whatever it takes to get out of trouble.
FOREMAN: Curt made up his mind when he attended our town meeting last week, where dozens of undecided voters filled the audience.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not the spin zone, this is CNN.
FOREMAN: But with another contentious debate finished.
KERRY: The president's plan is not working.
BUSH: Our plan is working...
FOREMAN: Many are making up their minds. And Rose (UNINTELLIGIBLE) came to the meeting undecided, but she was disturbed by Kerry supporters who jeered at the Bush campaign advisor Tucker Eskew. Now she has a Bush sign in her front yard. As for Senator Kerry...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn't show me anything that I could say that I trust him, you know to go in as a president of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I believe that most U.S. military support President Bush.
FOREMAN: What about the economy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's where I'm still trying to sort out with myself. I'm in a real quandary, what is more important to us.
FOREMAN: Ed is still decided but all over town, others are making their choice. For Bush...
MIKE AARNOLD, LEANING TOWARD GEORGE W. BUSH: Senator Kerry is very articulate, but well-spoken, but for my likings, I think he's too much politician.
FOREMAN: For Kerry...
CHARLES ANDERSON, LEANING TOWARDS JOHN KERRY: He's trying to help low-income people and help get more jobs for people who deserve them.
FOREMAN: It is sing along night at a local restaurant, but Leslie Ryan is talking politics. She came to our town meeting to listen and now she's heard enough.
LESLIE RYAN: Going to war based on a what if they attack us first notion just wasn't enough for me, and it wasn't enough for me back in 2003.
FOREMAN: So you have made up your mind now?
RYAN: I have. I have.
RYAN: And definitely Kerry.
FOREMAN: So she is one more vote decided in one more battleground, with three weeks to go.
ZAHN: And that was our Tom Foreman reporting and this Thursday, I will be hosting our next town meeting in the big battleground state of Pennsylvania. Join us when we meet with voters in Bucks County.
Television is where most Americans get their news, but the largest owner of television stations in the country has triggered a debate over what is news. Should an anti-Kerry documentary become must-see TV? The debate when we return.
And that's exactly our "voting booth" question for tonight. Long onto cnn.com/paula, but before we go to the break, a peek at the woman behind the world's largest online marketplace. It is the first of our week-long week at "Fortune" magazine's most powerful woman.
ZAHN: We had some audio problems earlier on in our interview with Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman and Kerry campaign senior adviser Joe Lockhart. We're going to go back to that now. I started off by asking Lockhart whether Senator Kerry made a mistake in saying he wants to reduce terrorism to a, quote, nuisance level, like prostitution or illegal gambling.
LOCKHART: I'm not quite sure why the Bush campaign is kicking up such a fuss about this, because this is an issue that I think ultimately works against them. It was President Bush who said he didn't think we could win the war on terror and this attack seems to imply that they don't think we can win the war on terror. John Kerry thinks the opposite. We will win. We have to and we can't get to the point in our lives where we just give up and say that from this point forward, terrorists will run our lives.
ZAHN: What about the president, Ken? On one hand he did say you can't win the war on terror and then he came back and he says our goal is not to reduce terrorism to some acceptable level, but to defeat terror. Is that realistic?
MEHLMAN: Well, Paula, I think it's entirely appropriate that John Kerry use the word nuisance, because it's consistent with the pre-9/11 view. Let's remember the context in which this happened. This is someone who earlier said he doesn't like calling the war on terror a war.
ZAHN: But getting back to my question first.
MEHLMAN: This is someone who said that law enforcement and intelligence are the way to solve this. What the president has said from the beginning is that this is an unconventional war. It's not like the war in World War II where the enemy will put a white surrender flag and therefore it requires unconventional methods on our part which this president has put forward which Senator Kerry would weaken.
ZAHN: But Ken, what is the deal with the ad you're running? Didn't you take John Kerry's statement out of context?
MEHLMAN: Absolutely not. We put it entirely...
ZAHN: He went on to say in that same interview that he said would hunt down terrorists and kill them.
MEHLMAN: But the fundamental question is will you take the approach the president is taking, which is to take the battle to the enemy or will you use law enforcement and intelligence after the fact. That ad is entirely appropriate because of the fact that John Kerry's statement in context in the context of Richard Holbrooke, one of his top advisers yesterday, who said that this isn't really a war, in the context of his own statement that it's not really a war.
It's mostly about law enforcement and intelligence, in his context of the statement that we need a global test before America defends itself, that we need a more sensitive war on terror, the difference between Bush and Kerry is the president will take the battle to the enemy so we're safer at home. John Kerry will wait to attack and then response after the fact.
ZAHN: I think both of you gentlemen are going to have to concede tonight there's a lot of context missing because John Kerry also went on to say the president should have a right to take preemptive action, but Joe Lockhart, back to your camp. You've run this explosive ad against the president when you have him quoted as you said in the public forum, I don't think you can win it, and yet the next day he came back and said, quote, make no mistake about it, we are winning and we will win. Your ad doesn't reflect that.
LOCKHART: It doesn't reflect that, because there seems to be -- the president seems to be having a debate with himself and we think that his attack today sort of decides it. He, in going after John Kerry the way he did as personally as he did, the only justification we can assume is that he thinks we can't win the war on terror and you know, listen, the Bush campaign's distortions have gotten so distortion upon distortion, they're beginning to make sense now and that is they don't think they can win the war on terror.
ZAHN: Let's move to the final presidential debate in just two days. We're to put up on the screen a poll showing John Kerry leading on the economy, on health care, on Medicare, the deficit, Social Security, education, the environment, abortion and stem cell research. The president leading only on taxes.
How are you going to get any traction on those issues?
MEHLMAN: Well, we're going to talk about the clear differences on these issues. You brought up one called healthcare. That's very important. The president's got a plan going forward. It empowers patients that lets small businesses pool their resources so that they can afford the advantages that big businesses have, and it reduces cost with medical liability reform.
If you like the Department of Motor Vehicles, you're going to love the John Kerry healthcare plan. Here's why.
What Kerry's plan does is it costs $1.5 trillion, meaning higher taxes. No. 2, it involves government involvement about decisions in regarding treatment. And three, it will take millions of Americans away from private care and put them into Medicaid.
They say it's not more government. Only a Massachusetts liberal would say that that kind of government and those kind of taxes does not involve government.
We welcome a debate a healthcare. We welcome a debate on education. We welcome a debate on taxes. The president will reform the tax code. They'll raise your taxes.
ZAHN: Joe, your candidate sort of did the repeat of "Read my lips, no new taxes." Can he fund this program without raising taxes?
LOCKHART: Well, sure. That last one. That last sentence I really by Ken I really liked, because it combined their distortions with their name-calling. And that's perfect, because that's what their campaign is about.
We can do this because John Kerry has been very specific. He has said he wants to roll back the tax cut for the top one percent. And that's almost a trillion dollars and a trillion dollars even in Washington is still a lot of money.
And that will pay for the healthcare program, which is not a trillion and a half. That's some right-wing Republican group that put that out. It's more -- it's under $700 Billion and also for homeland security.
And if we can't, John Kerry has been very clear. He's going to cut taxes for the middle class. And if we have to reduce spending, we'll reduce spending.
ZAHN: In closing tonight, Ken, what about the deficit? There are independent think tanks out there that don't think either John Kerry or the president have a realistic way to cut this deficit in half. And I just need about 15 seconds apiece.
MEHLMAN: The president's got a plan to cut the deficit, cut it in half over five years. John Kerry will propose $2.2 trillion in new spending.
We're not asking you to read his lips. Read his record, over 350 tax increases. That is a tax increase about every three weeks over 20 years. If your taxes are too low, vote for John Kerry. He'll raise them.
ZAHN: Joe, you get the last word tonight.
LOCKHART: Listen, the -- Just the president's plan to privatize Social Security is going to cost $2 trillion alone. That's before anything else. That's before making the tax cuts permanent, before giving more giveaways to corporate special interests.
The man has no credibility on this.
John Kerry actually has a plan to cut the deficit in half, and he'll do it through discipline. He'll do it through rolling back the tax cuts...
LOCKHART: ... for the wealthiest Americans. It makes sense. It's in the interest of the middle class.
ZAHN: Joe Lockhart, Ken Mehlman, thank you both. Appreciate your time.
LOCKHART: Thanks, Paula.
MEHLMAN: Thanks a lot.
ZAHN: And when it comes to television, this is already a very controversial campaign. Think of swift boat ads and the CBS "60 Minutes' report on the president's National Guard service.
It is about to get even more controversial with the airing of a stinging anti-Kerry documentary in some of the most crucial battleground states. The biggest TV station chain in the country is telling its 62 stations to preempt regular programming to run the film.
Democrats want an FCC investigation and charge that turning over the airtime is nothing more than an illegal campaign contribution. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ZAHN (voice-over): This campaign has already seen its share of political propaganda, from the anti-Bush film "Fahrenheit 9/11" to the anti-Kerry swift boat ads.
Now for the first time, a broadcasting company has ordered its TV stations to run a 42-minute broadcast, one-sided critique of Kerry's antiwar testimony after he served in Vietnam.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Sinclair Broadcasting has not made any secret of its conservative bent, but up until now, it has never tried to do something on this scale, which is reach millions of viewers on the eve of an election with a documentary film that blasts one presidential candidate, in this case, John Kerry.
ZAHN: Back in April, Sinclair made headlines when it ordered seven of its ABC affiliate stations not to air a "Nightline" program that featured a reading of the names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.
This time, the documentary in question is called "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal." In it, veterans, POWs and their families claim is that Kerry's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee betrayed them, demoralized them and prolonged their suffering.
Sinclair Broadcasting Vice President Mark Hyman told the "The Washington Post," "This is a powerful story. The networks are acting like Holocaust deniers and pretending the POWs don't exist. It would be irresponsible to ignore them."
Today, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe told reporters in a conference call, "Sinclair's owners aren't interested in news. They're interested in pro-Bush propaganda. But the decision to air 'Stolen Honor' is a new low. The so-called film, 'Wounds That Never Heal,' is garbage."
For its part, Sinclair says its broadcast is news.
KURTZ: What people think of as the equal time rule doesn't apply to news broadcasts. It's not clear whether a documentary qualifies as a news broadcast. It's also not clear that John Kerry has any right to respond.
ZAHN: Sinclair has invited Senator Kerry to respond after the documentary is shown. The campaign has declined.
ZAHN: So is it news or propaganda? Joining me now from Los Angeles, our rival strategists, Republican Mike Murphy, Democrat Bill Carrick. Good to see both of you.
Mike, you heard that the Democrats are going to the FCC. They want this to be investigated as a potential illegal use of the airwaves. Why isn't ordering these stations to air an anti-Kerry documentary an illegal campaign contribution?
It's a serious question.
MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: All the verbs in that report -- I'm going to respond to it. "Ordering." It's like these stations are free little petunias out there and some colossus is ordering them to go to the party line.
Look, nobody -- there's free speech in America. Stations get to put on programming they want, and people get to watch it. I didn't complain when Disney and Miramax and ABC and that conglomerate was out there with "Fahrenheit 411 (sic)." I didn't say censor that.
We shouldn't censor this. Free speech is what campaigns are all about. And if people don't like it, they can change the channel. Sinclair has every right to do it, and they asked Kerry to respond, take the free airtime. And he didn't. Now they're trying to create a big story out of it. I think it's totally legitimate and hope it has huge ratings.
ZAHN: Much ado about nothing in key battleground states here?
BILL CARRICK, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, I don't think the programming will do much to harm Kerry at all. I think the truth is Sinclair has handled this so abysmally, it's just like they're political tone-deaf. They're creating their own backlash.
You know, with friends like Sinclair, Bush doesn't need any enemies.
ZAHN: So, do you think this -- obviously. You don't agree with what they're doing, but these stations are going to feel some kind of pressure, Bill, to carry this program, right.
CARRICK: Absolutely. Absolutely. It's very coercive. The stations don't have any choice. It's not like they have a free choice to do this. They have to take the programming. And they're going to get really terrible ratings, because nobody's going to watch a propaganda film in primetime.
ZAHN: And Mike, the power will be in the remotes that night.
MURPHY: Well, the idea of the stations, again, are these free- will entities. I mean, they're all part of Sinclair Broadcasting. I think most of the station managers in those markets are probably behind the decision.
CARRICK: I doubt that. I doubt that.
MURPHY: I think there aren't two sides of this story. I never saw any of the swift boat guys on "60 Minutes"...
CARRICK: Nobody wants propaganda on their stations.
MURPHY: ... which was the daily Kerry report. Now we know are forged documents. So I still have a lot of reservations about CBS when it comes to network broadcasting.
CARRICK: I'd hate -- I'd hate to be an investor that had Mike Murphy as my station manager. The last thing these stations want is a propaganda film in prime time. It's ridiculous. Let me tell you...
MURPHY: I feel ratings going up from all the free publicity we're getting. So I encourage people.
CARRICK: You get a lot of bad publicity, a lot of bad publicity that reinforces the image of the Republican Party as a party of big corporations who are just trying to shove something down America's throats. It's bad politics.
MURPHY: And the Democrat Party is the free speech denizens (ph) who don't let anybody make their own decision.
CARRICK: Let them do it, Mike. Let them do it.
ZAHN: Here's what a bunch of Mike's friends were saying today. You can carry this to its extreme, and you would say Sinclair came out and asked its stations to run a very negative documentary on Iraq. That could be seen as an in-kind contribution to John Kerry.
Is there any rationale to that, Bill?
CARRICK: Absolutely. It would be.
MURPHY: I don't know.
CARRICK: Absolutely. You know, this is like -- two weeks before the election, this major media conglomerate tells their stations to run a propaganda film.
Now, that is -- first of all, it's politically stupid for them. It is going to backlash, but you know, it is coercive. These stations don't want to run this stuff. They don't want a garbage propaganda film in the middle of primetime.
ZAHN: All right. But Mike, if you don't think it will move the needle at all for either candidate, why is Sinclair doing it?
MURPHY: Well, I think Kerry will get up to 95 percent of...
CARRICK: Because they're not very smart.
MURPHY: Kerry will get up to 95 percent of the west side of Manhattan and other places where people care about this kind of process argument.
I love the irony of this story, though. To hear liberals complain about 30 minutes of alleged media bias when we Republicans have to live with it on almost every channel almost all time.
You can look at this. I want a refund from CBS News.
CARRICK: Oh, this is so sad. So sad. MURPHY: It's so accurate.
ZAHN: All right. Defend all your friends in the so-called liberal media, Bill. You get the last word tonight.
CARRICK: Well, I think the thing's going to backlash on them. I don't think it's really going to be effective as a political device for Bush. And it really does raise a lot of questions about media bias on the right, which is becoming a bigger and bigger issue.
MURPHY: Alice in wonderland.
ZAHN: We're going to have to debate that whole topic on another night. Bill Carrick, Mike Murphy, won't you come back? Later on in the week, we'll have you back.
MURPHY: We'll review the film.
ZAHN: I'm sure you will by that time.
We're going to take a short break, and we will continue our remembrance of Christopher Reeve. We'll have more of my interview with him from last November, revealing his pain and his courage right after his accident. Stay with us.
ZAHN: You can be forgiven if you've heard enough in this campaign about a war that ended nearly 30 years ago, but for those who haven't had their fill of Vietnam, there is a way to try your own hand at boat patrol duty from the safety of your home.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm John Kerry...
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When John Kerry the candidate said...
KERRY: Reporting for duty.
MOOS: ... little did the former Vietnam vet know he'd soon be a war game.
Where else would he fight but aboard swift boats?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right to 'em. Right to 'em.
MOOS: Talk about swift. It takes a mere three weeks for a company called Kuma War to rip a battle out of the headlines and turn it into a video game. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are the 4th Infantry Division capturing Saddam, You are the 10th Mountain Division hunting al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
MOOS: And now you can be alongside Lieutenant Kerry as he chases down the enemy and shoots it.
The scenario is based on a mission that resulted in a Silver Star for Kerry. The game maker used books, naval documents and a swift boat historian to ensure accuracy.
No matter which side of the swift boat brouhaha you're on, the game can always be improvised.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm out of bullets, oh, no.
MOOS: And accidents can happen.
(on camera) I just shot Kerry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not shoot the candidate.
MOOS (voice-over): Kuma War's CEO says they contacted the Kerry campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they said that Mr. Kerry doesn't play video games.
MOOS: But this is the thinking man's video game. One minute you've see Fallujah on the news. The next thing you know, you're shooting insurgents.
Kuma War charges $10 a month and every month releases several new missions on its Web site. The Kerry mission is the latest.
MOOS (on camera): Where's the enemy? Who's that person?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's kind of how it works with the enemy. They're the last thing you see.
I tried to board a moving swift boat, which is never a good policy.
MOOS (voice-over): Be in Lieutenant Kerry's boots as he's crawling through the mud, taking aim. Hey, the war game is not so different from the political campaign.
ZAHN: And that was our Jeanne Moos, reporting tonight.
Next, as we all remember Christopher Reeve, an intimate look at the actor who left more than just his movies as his legacy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRISTOPHER REEVE, ACTOR/ACTIVIST: I think so many people spend time wishing. I wish I could have that back again. I wish I could be there again. Those were the good old days, all that kind of stuff.
Well, as a fleeting thought, that's fine, but if you dwell on it, you can really get stuck there. Then you're not in the moment again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: More of my very candid interview with Christopher Reeve right after this.
ZAHN: And welcome back. Now on to more of my interview with Christopher Reeve from November a year ago. Reeve died yesterday of complications from an infection.
And a little bit earlier tonight, we heard about his crusade for stem cell research, but during our interview, he also revealed a more personal side when he talked candidly about the horseback riding accident that changed his life forever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christopher Reeve remains in serious, but stable condition. Mr. Reeve currently has no movement or spontaneous respiration. He may require surgery to stabilize the upper spine.
REEVE: I just didn't pay attention for a moment is all I was doing. And my horse and I were so mentally attuned, from all our time working together, that he knew that my mind had gone away. I was thinking about a harder job.
ZAHN: And you vividly remember that?
REEVE: I am virtually certain that's what happened.
ZAHN: Just for a split second?
REEVE: Yes, and there's a metaphor there.
ZAHN: The metaphor being?
REEVE: You've got to stay in the moment. You've got to be right here. You know, whatever it is you're doing, you've got to fully focus, because you really pay a price if you're not absolutely there.
ZAHN: Are you tortured by that?
REEVE: No. It's eight years later. I put that way behind me.
ZAHN: But how many years did you wrestle with that?
REEVE: I think the first two years. You know, the shock, of course. At the beginning was overwhelming. But I was lucky I didn't have to face this alone. And my family could not have been more supportive.
ZAHN: What do you miss most about your old life when you were Superman?
REEVE: Spontaneity. I actually -- I actually never thought I was Superman, I'm sorry to say.
Easy, miss, I've got you.
MARGOT KIDDER, ACTRESS: You've got me? Who's got you?
REEVE: I just thought I could fly. I played it. I was so young that I remember, you know, that Dick Donner, the director, sometimes would say, you know, that scene where I had to walk through fire?
And he said, "Chris, remember, you can't really do that." You know, I had to have as asbestos suit and all that, but I was ready to go.
I'd get up on those wires and sometimes I'd be, like, 100 feet off the ground. And I think back on it, it's totally crazy. But I used to think if the wires would break, I'd just keep going, that I didn't really need the wires.
ZAHN: So that seems to be a part of your character that hasn't been altered in any way by your injury.
REEVE: Complete commitment to something is a -- I guess a part of my personality that hasn't changed. But I'll tell you one thing, when you're playing Superman and you're standing there in that uniform, you better be pretty committed, because you could look pretty ridiculous in it.
ZAHN: You looked really good.
REEVE: There's no pockets, you know what I mean?
ZAHN: But even outside of the movie people would view what you did as Superman-esque. There wasn't a sport you didn't attempt, and all of those sports you played aggressively.
ZAHN: You were a physical guy.
REEVE: I mean, I like challenge. I like really learning to do something well. That's fun.
ZAHN: You learn a lot every day, don't you?
REEVE: I do. I've learned a tremendous amount about patience. I've learned a lot about communication. And -- and one of the things I spent a lot of time doing is being asked to intervene for people who have just had a spinal cord injury or a stroke and are in that suicidal phase.
Sometimes it's children. That's always very hard. Sometimes it's the person themselves, sometimes the family.
But it means a lot to me to be able to get on the phone, or actually go to the person's house and talk about a future. And say, you might not be ready to hear this yet, but just try to keep an open mind, then don't cave into this.
ZAHN: In the beginning stages of your diagnosis, how close did you come to committing suicide?
REEVE: Well, I couldn't have done it anyway, but...
ZAHN: Or wanting to commit suicide?
REEVE: About a day. When I turned to Dana and said, "I'm probably not worth having, you know. You know, we should probably let me go."
And we agreed to wait a couple years. And then if I still thought the same way, we would reevaluate it.
ZAHN: And what did Dana say to you?
REEVE: She said, "It's your choice. It's your life. But you're still you, and I love you."
And I remember saying, "I've really tested the marriage vows here. When I said in sickness and in health, I wasn't thinking about this."
But what I found is that people who have a really solid bond, when a catastrophe happens, it gets better and stronger. But if that bond is fragile or nonexistent, then a calamity can really drive people apart.
ZAHN: Would you be alive today if it weren't for Dana's love?
REEVE: No, and if I were single, I wouldn't be. You know, if I didn't have that kind of a life. You know, the life with Dana and with the family. It makes all the difference in the world.
ZAHN: How grateful are you for that?
REEVE: Extremely, extremely, because all my life I prided myself on being so self-sufficient. You know, I could absolutely just take care of myself. I don't need anybody, you know.
I didn't realize how lucky you are to have people who are there for you, no matter what. Yes, it may be an achievement to fly solo, but there's a great deal more true satisfaction in flying together.
ZAHN: That was Christopher Reeve from my conversation with him last November. A life to remember and honor, a life of courage and strength. We'll all miss him.
We'll be right back.
ZAHN: And finally tonight, the results of our "Voting Booth" question. Should television stations run an anti-Kerry documentary, or be ordered to? Eleven percent of you voted yes; 89 percent of you voted no.
Remember, it's not a scientific poll but a sampling from those of you who visited our web site. Thank you.
And Wednesday's presidential debate will be the final chance for one of the candidates to break the deadlock in a face to face confrontation in Tempe, Arizona. We will be covering the run up live beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern.
Then the very next day, the next in our series of town hall meetings with voters in vitally important swing states. That's this Thursday, October 14, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
And that wraps it up for all of us here on PRIME TIME POLITICS. "LARRY KING LIVE" is next with his guest, Mary Kay Letourneau and her first live interview since her release from prison.
Thanks so much for being with us tonight. Hope you'll be back with us again tomorrow night. Good night.
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