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From the January 1999 MediaWatch


Right-Wing Dole?

Elizabeth Dole, "a social conservative" and "darling" of the right? That’s how ABC and MSNBC described her as she resigned from the American Red Cross on January 4, hinting at a run for President.

ABC World News Tonight reporter John Cochran asserted: "She could be a strong contender: a social conservative who can appeal to the party’s core voters, but one who might also attract women turned off by the Republican Party in recent years." Cochran didn’t explain how she’d appeal to the right and overcome the media mantra that women reject the GOP’s social conservatism.

Later, on his MSNBC show The News with Brian Williams, Williams asked New York Times reporter Richard Berke: "She is, after all, a Harvard law graduate, a Duke University graduate, a formidable woman, a darling of some on the right. Why should Elizabeth Dole not mix it up at this early stage and get in the race?"

"Darling" of whom? As Cal Thomas noted on FNC’s Fox Report, "nobody knows what she really believes" and "she does have a liberal streak. She has been all over the place on the abortion issue, for example, which is a litmus test as it is for liberals. It certainly is for conservatives."

CBS reporter Phil Jones was able to identify an accomplishment, a regulatory expansion: "That stoplight in the middle of your back car window, that’s known as the ‘Dole light,’ one of her safety legacies as President Reagan’s Transportation Secretary."


Fight Fiercely, Bill!
As the clock ran out, the White House press corps was upset that the Clinton team wasn’t doing enough to fight impeachment. So revealed ABC’s Sam Donaldson in a report from Jerusalem aired on the December 13 This Week.

Donaldson announced at the top of the show’s roundtable discussion that "Many reporters who’ve covered the President all during the scandal, and who may have been pretty tough on him, are almost today beseeching the White House to get out there and fight, or wondering why at least he doesn’t. For instance, the President says he will talk to any of these moderates who want to talk to him, but he’s not going to call them. What’s wrong with calling as long as you don’t threaten them or do anything improper?"

He wanted Clinton to leave the Middle East: "Why not leave after the Gaza occasion and get back home so you can continue to fight impeachment? Well they say to us, this is very important. Is it more important than keeping your seat?" Sam also disputed White House claims that going on CNN was good enough: "I like Larry King but he’s got a small audience, no offense. The President, why not go on all the television networks and reach millions of people and say ‘Let me just say that I need your help.’"


No Dissent on Iraq.
When Bill Clinton went to war against Iraq on December 16, the night before the House’s impeachment debate was scheduled, the networks suggested Republicans should rally around the President. On ABC, Peter Jennings bemoaned how "there was not the traditional rally around the leader support that usually results while American forces are in action overseas."

ABC reporter John Cochran allowed House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss to complain about not getting briefed on Iraq in advance, but contrasted him with the rest of the country: "And yet, go outside Washington and most Americans find it inconceivable that the President would order airstrikes to gain nothing more than a short delay in an inevitable impeachment vote."

The other networks highlighted instant polls. On CBS, Dan Rather announced that 79 percent favored the strike. Second, when asked "Clinton’s timing has more to do with...", 61 percent replied "need to respond immediately" while only 26 percent believed "scheduled impeachment vote."

Over at NBC, Claire Shipman touted "an NBC News overnight poll which shows that 75 percent of Americans approve of President Clinton’s decision to order military strikes. When asked whether the military action was timed to delay the impeachment vote, 59 percent said no, 27 percent said yes."




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