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From the February 1999 MediaWatch

Clinton Won, So GOP Must Go Left?

ABC, CBS Present Experts Against the Right Without Rebuttal

Within a days of the Senateís acquittal of Bill Clinton, ABC and CBS identified the Republicans as the party hurt the most. Why? They pinpointed conservative intolerance as the cause, with CBS insisting the party must "move toward the middle, away from the far-right social conservatives" who pushed impeachment.

"Only 30 percent of those asked said the Republicans could do a better job than Bill Clinton in dealing with the nationís problems," ABCís Tim OíBrien announced on World News Tonight the day after the February 12 vote. OíBrien then highlighted how "party moderates at a meeting of the Republican Leadership Council in Miami today acknowledged they have been hurt by the impeachment process." Without any counterpoint from a conservative, OíBrien played this soundbite from New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman: "Many Americans right now have an impression of a Republican Party thatís mean-spirited, vindictive, was not attending to the publicís business."

On Presidentís Day, February 15, CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson managed to air five ideological labels in her Evening News piece which lasted just 95 seconds. "Republicans are desperately regrouping after a difficult year pursuing the Presidentís impeachment. Many worry theyíre now at serious risk of losing their congressional majority," Attkisson maintained.

She illustrated the danger by offering this unanswered assessment: "Political analyst James Thurber says the party must move toward the middle, away from the far-right social conservatives who pushed hardest for the Presidentís ouster. But that wonít be easily done." Thurber asserted: "Itís tough for Republicans to moderate, though, when they have a well-organized right wing in their party, pulling the party further to the right where the voters donít exist."

Attkisson insisted that "moderates like Senator John McCain...are well aware of their partyís challenge" and allowed that Republican leaders for now plan to "hammer home traditional conservative goals like tax cuts and the return of power to local governments." But, she ominously warned in conclusion, social conservatives, somehow counted as a "minority" within the GOP, will still insist on getting their way: "The partyís right wing will continue to apply pressure on social issues like abortion. They may be in the minority, but theyíre powerful fundraisers and that gives them the influence to shape policy and dominate the Republican agenda."




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