ABC: 'Controversial' Thatcher, a 'Titan' Who Was 'Both Adored and Vilified'

ABC's Good Morning America on Monday broke into live coverage to report that the "controversial" "titan" Margaret Thatcher had died. The morning show's reporters highlighted both her conservative beliefs, for which she was "vilified," and compared her to Winston Churchill.

Guest co-host Elizabeth Vargas announced that the late Prime Minister's "belief in herself and her policies" led to her being "both adored and vilified even to this day in Great Britain. A very controversial, but very, very important figure, undoubtedly."  [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Later in the show, George Stephanopoulos returned to announce: "A titan has fallen."

The former Democratic operative turned journalist seemed surprisingly appreciative: "And she was called the Iron Lady by the Soviets. They meant it to deride her. She loved it."

Offering high praise by comparison, he added, "You think of 20th century Great Britain, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher."

People Magazine editor Larry Hackett appeared to praise, "And, just, again, an amazing, amazing figure. Has been out of the limelight for several years."

Vargas chimed in, labeling the British leader "emblematic of the modern day working mother."

The praise being heaped on Thatcher, Monday, stands in contrast to the media vilification she endured as Prime Minister. Liberals in the American and British press routinely trashed her for opposing the welfare state.

A transcript of the April 8 segments can be found below:


  8:01 ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We have just learned that the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died. Three time prime minister. They called her the Iron Lady. She was 87-years-old. You see her right there. Of course, she had such a close relationship with president Ronald Reagan. You see him there with Ronald Reagan. She became known for the stand down with Argentina.

ELIZABETH VARGAS: She was really one of the most dominant political figures in the 20th century. And as you said, called the Iron Lady because of her strong forcefulness and belief in herself and her policies, which made her both adored and vilified even to this day in Great Britain. A very controversial, but very, very important figure, undoubtedly.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what a path breaker. Youngest woman ever elected to parliament. Just 24-years-old. Margaret Thatcher died this morning.

8:02

JOSH ELLIOTT: The breaking news, just announced. We just got it moments ago from Britain. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died. Known as the Iron Lady. Thatcher passed away this morning. And ABC's Lama Hasan joins us now from London with the very latest. Good morning to you, Lama.

LAMA HASAN: Well, this is what we know so far: That former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died following a stroke this morning. We understand that she died peacefully. It's important to remember that she's had several strokes in the past. And we haven't actually seen her in the public eye for a number of years. She was 87-years-old. Here's how we found the news, how it was relayed to us. Lord Bell who is Thatcher's spokesman, said that she died this morning following a stroke. He said, "It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol thatcher," of course, that is her son and daughter, "announced that their mother, Baroness Thatcher, died peacefully following a stroke this morning." And what we know is that they will issue a full statement later today. Josh?

8:15

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And the titan– this is where we want to begin Lara– a titan has fallen. We want to begin with Margaret thatcher. You think of 20th century Great Britain, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher.

LARRY HACKETT (People magazine): Absolutely. I mean, she's such an incredibly transformative leader. I mean, the idea that she took over the Conservative Party, became the leader and then took amazing amounts of heat as she tried to transform the country from being, you know, very socialistic and trying to make it more capitalistic to give people, you know, the free enterprise in a greater way. And, just, again, an amazing, amazing figure. Has been out of the limelight for several years. But when you think of the heat she took and the changes she made. It really was something.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You see her there with Ronald Reagan, that cabinet meeting with Ronald Reagan. They forged such an alliance across so many issues. And she was called the Iron Lady by the Soviets. They meant it to deride her. She loved it.

ELIZABETH VARGAS: Right. She embraced it.

HACKETT: And the parties now, both in the U.S. and the U.K., you know, even the left-leaning parties, the Democrats and the Labour Party in the U.K. have changed utterly by what she did.

VARGAS: And, you know, it's interesting, before we get to our next topic, Margaret Thatcher was elected at the age of 34. Was the mother of twins.

HACKETT: Yes.

VARGAS: So, this was– She was really emblematic of the modern day working mother.

HACKETT: Yes, she was,

VARGAS: Right there at the forefront.

HACKETT: And, of course, Denis, her husband, was very modern in her own way because he let her be in the forefront and he took care of the home.

VARGAS: Right. He was the first stay-at-home dad.

SAM CHAMPION: But she hasn't been well for a few years.

HACKETT: No.

VARGAS: We haven't seen her out in public for several years.   

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org