Winner 1998

FRONTLINE: Washington’s Other Scandal

WGBH/Frontline, Boston, Massachusetts, Washington Media Associates, Public Affairs Television

Among the thousands (if not millions) of hours devoted to political scandal in 1998, this report may ultimately prove to be the most significant. In this special FRONTLINE report, correspondent Bill Moyers reveals the corrupting influence of fund raising in the electoral process, and suggests that nothing less than the future of democracy may be at stake. As correspondent Moyers says, “Politics today has become an arms race, with money instead of missiles. One side escalates and the other follows suit faster and faster. The spiral is spinning and today this arms race is undermining our system of self-government.” That accurate observation is buttressed by brilliant reporting, including revealing excerpts from White House videotapes, interviews with political strategists and wealthy donors and a deft reportorial style which unravels the complex scandal of campaign fund raising like a great mystery novel. Not only does this program “follow the money,” but producer Sherry Jones, director Foster Wiley and correspondent Bill Moyers make the strongest possible case that ours is no longer a representative democracy—it is a government of the highest bidder. While its main focus is the Democratic campaign in 1996, the program evenhandedly explains how both parties routinely sidestep the law and use “soft money” to run roughshod over the electoral process. For reporting the real scandal in Washington in 1998, a Peabody is presented to Bill Moyers and FRONTLINE for Washington’s Other Scandal.