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From the March 1999 MediaWatch

Fashioning a Future for "Senator Hillary"

Time and Newsweek Cover Stories, and Dozens of TV Reports

The political press found a quick remedy for post-impeachment blahs: promoting the wife of the impeached man for the U.S. Senate. The networks devoted more than 20 morning and evening reports and interviews to "Senator Hillary." CNN’s Inside Politics could have been called Inside Hillary: in the ten weekdays from February 15 to 26, the show aired 15 full reports and five interviews on her future.

The tone was typically promotional. On the February 16 Today, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell asked: "When you are used to being a star like the First Lady, how does it feel, do you think, to be one of 100?" That night, CBS’s Dan Rather added an "editor’s note" about Hillary aiming too low: "One of the arguments reportedly being made to Hillary Clinton by those urging her to run, is you win a Senate race in New York and you might be in position to run for President later. Is she thinking about running for President or Vice President in 2000, instead of for the Senate? No one in a position to know will say."

Time and Newsweek both made Hillary their cover girl on March 1, and both devoted nine pages to her. Time’s Romesh Ratnesar found "political hacks were salivating at the prospect of a celebrity death match between Clinton and New York’s imperious Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani — a notion that makes the state’s Democrats as giddy as 12-year-olds at an N’Sync show." Ratnesar ended by quoting Robert F. Kennedy: "‘Come my friends, ‘tis not too late to seek a better world.’ That sort of belief in the possibilities of American politics no longer exists. Hillary’s run might just be a step toward restoring it."

Newsweek’s Evan Thomas and Debra Rosenberg declared: "In an ironic, Washington-hating age, Hillary’s sometimes self-righteous dutifulness may seem quaint or hokey, but to her, public service is still a real and urgent obligation. It has been since she shone in her Methodist youth group as an earnest teenager...Her model would be Robert F. Kennedy, who was not so much the junior senator from New York as a global crusader. Like RFK, she could make camera lights shine in dark places of neglect. Unlike RFK, Hillary actually likes the minutiae of policy wonkery." They ended: "She has always been a strong woman. But she has never had such a golden chance to show her strength and put it to use, on her own terms."

Newsweek claimed: "Much of the Washington media establishment would be all too ready to see her fail." Not from the looks of these reports.





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