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MediaWatch: June 1995

Vol. Nine No. 6

CBS This Morning Hails Hillary

Countering Mr. Newt

Broadcasting the week of May 15-19 from David Letterman's Ed Sullivan theater, CBS This Morning gave Hillary Clinton the star treatment while repeatedly challenging House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

On Monday, Paula Zahn and Harry Smith spent an hour with Gingrich. Zahn declared about Medicare, "your plan for a seven year period is looking from anywhere to $250 billion to $300 billion in cuts." Gingrich explained: "We today spend $4,700 per senior citizen...At the end of the House Republican budget plan, we will spend $6,300 per senior citizen."

Zahn countered with Leon Panetta's claim that many will see their premiums rise. Later Smith added: "But your premium is going to cost you, it's going to cost you more money." Gingrich disagreed with Panetta's math, prompting Zahn to note that the AARP "says you're moving too fast, that this plan doesn't make sense." When Gingrich asserted the GOP has long been interested in health care, Smith shot back: "There were plenty of Republicans marching around a year or so ago saying there was no health care crisis."

During her hour on Friday, Hillary Clinton found more supportive hosts. Zahn and Smith granted plenty of time to talk about breast cancer research and the challenges of being a working parent. After Mrs. Clinton declared when Republicans want "to cut education to give the richest people in America a tax cut, we have our values upside down and backwards," the hosts failed to challenge her partisan charge.

Zahn seemed disappointed by Mrs. Clinton's post-health plan retrenchment, observing: "You've been touching on health issues, family issues, women's issues, and as you know, because you read newspapers, there are some Americans who are wondering where the `Lawyer Clinton' is, where the `Legislating Hillary' is?"

Giving her a chance to return to her favorite topic, Zahn set her up nicely: "Are you in favor of overhauling Medicare without doing it within a huge, huge, large framework?" Unlike with Gingrich, after Mrs. Clinton recited her liberal litany of how she's "very scared about overhauling Medicare without health care reform," neither host followed up on her lengthy answer.