ABC Announces Yet Another Town Meeting To Promote Hillary -- Just As In 1999
On Tuesday morning's Good Morning America, ABC co-host Robin Roberts announced they would be airing a special town hall meeting about health care and veterans care with Hillary Clinton next Monday, March 26. In 1999, as First Lady Hillary Clinton prepared to run for the Senate, GMA handed over most of their broadcast to gun control and kids on June 4. This special included 45 minutes with Bill and Hillary talking to high-schoolers town hall-style about the horrors of school violence. Hillary's Senate opponents, Rudy Giuliani and then Rep. Rick Lazio, were never awarded comparative feasts of free air time. Roberts promoted their new broadcast gift to Hillary like this:
“And we want to tell everybody about a special event on ‘Good Morning America’ that’s coming up this Monday. It’s the first in our series of GMA town hall meetings leading up to next year’s election. And Senator Hillary Clinton will be here live to answer questions about health care and veterans care in a live town hall meeting that actually will be held in Des Moines, Iowa. That’s next Monday, only on GMA.”
First in a series: does that mean it's first in a series of rotating candidates with the people on ABC's airwaves? Or the first in a series of Hillary Clinton campaign promotions? Because Hillary's opponents didn't get equal time last time around. As Brent Baker explained in a June 4, 1999 Cyber Alert Special Edition:
ABC's Good Morning America broadcast live from the White House this morning, presenting a two hour special titled "Kids & Guns: Is There a Solution?" The show dropped many ad breaks to allow more time with the Clintons. For 45 uninterrupted minutes from about 7:30am to 8:15am ET Bill and Hillary Clinton, with Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer hosting, talked in the Roosevelt Room with a group of high school students.
It wasn't all fun and games: Charlie Gibson hounded Bill Clinton to crack down on gun owners until the president grew peevish. But this is another example of how it's ironic for the media to leave themselves out of the regulatory schemes called "campaign finance reform" to make elections more "competitive." In fact, in that same election cycle, GMA gave the lion's share of its free air time on the Republican side to....John McCain, Captain Campaign Reform. In a Media Reality Check, we noted that over a six-month period of late 1999 and early 2000, Steve Forbes appeared once, Alan Keyes once -- and John McCain was awarded eleven interviews. The irony was that even after Forbes and Keyes finished second and third behind Bush in the Iowa caucuses, GMA only invited McCain to the show -- even though he'd skipped competing in Iowa.