Election Notebook

October 04, 2000 2 min read

Bennett: Lieberman ‘Disappointed’ Him

Former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett says he is “disappointed” by what he contends is a shift in attitude toward the entertainment industry by his friend and sometime political ally Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential nominee.

“I have heard [the Connecticut senator] attack the entertainment industry with ferocity, accusing them of ‘pushing the envelope of civility and morality in a way that drags the rest of the culture down,’ ” Mr. Bennett, a Republican who served under President Reagan, wrote in a September 22 opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal. “Yet earlier this week, Mr. Lieberman’s powerful, direct criticisms mutated into lavish praise.”

At the Hollywood fund raiser to which Mr. Bennett referred, Mr. Lieberman was viewed by some political observers as backing away from the tough line he and presidential nominee Al Gore had taken toward the industry in reacting to a recent federal report charging entertainment companies with marketing violent material to minors.

“We will never, never put the government in the position of telling you by law, through law, what to make,” Mr. Lieberman emphasized at the event. “We will ‘noodge’ you, but we will never become censors.”

Sen. Lieberman and Mr. Bennett have long been outspoken critics of the marketing to children of movies, music, and video games with violent or sexual content.

A spokesman for Mr. Lieberman was quick to criticize Mr. Bennett’s Journal piece, titled “I’m Disappointed, Joe.”

“Senator Lieberman is equally disappointed that partisan politics would color the facts here,” said Dan Gerstein. “Senator Lieberman has not changed his position one iota.” The senator said that self-regulation is the preferred option for the entertainment companies, the aide said, but “if they don’t take responsibility for themselves, [the federal government is] going to hold them accountable.”

The Vice President Does MTV

Vice President Gore appeared on MTV last week in an effort to rouse support from young voters, who have shown little interest in this year’s presidential race.

The Democratic nominee discussed a wide range of issues, including abortion, homosexual rights, racial profiling by police, and the environment, on the music- and youth-oriented cable television channel.

He also promised to increase financial aid for higher education and said he did not support censorship of the music industry. But, Mr. Gore added, “I think that what we listen to and enjoy and spread around in our culture has an effect on us.” The MTV program was taped at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and broadcast on Sept. 26.

Erik W. Robelen & Joetta L. Sack