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"Candidates' Wives" (Minus a Few)

Reported by Melanie - July 30, 2004 -

The Democrat bashing continued today (July 30, 2004) in the second half of Dayside w/Linda Vester. Returning from a break at 1:33 p.m. ET, Fox ran a clip of David Letterman making fun of John Kerry and then a clip of Jay Leno making fun of John Edwards. Then to Vester to introduce the guests to talk about "the candidates' wives." (See, "See, These Guys Don't Miss a Beat" in the Dayside w/Linda Vester category, posted July 30, 2004.)

Vester introduced Monica Crowley, "Republican strategist," (and on the Fox payroll), Deadre Levine, "Democratic strategist," and Kristen Powers, "Democratic strategist."

Vester begins: How much do candidates' wives play a part in who people vote for?

Crowley spoke first saying there's probably only a "marginal effect;" that Laura Bush is a "much more traditional" wife whereas Teresa Heinz Kerry is "eccentric" and has a "tendency to wonder off the reservation."

Vester: It wasn't "so much" that Heinz Kerry "told a reporter to 'shove it'" but that she "denied what she said." (In a speech she'd given just before speaking with that reporter.)

Deadre Levine responded that Heinz Kerry is "under a lot of pressure" but that she's a "classy lady." At that moment a banner at the bottom of the screen reminded viewers that Heinz Kerry inherited $550 million from her late husband.

Levine continued, saying that Heinz Kerry could change the position of First Lady "for the better," and that having someone "opinionated," and "strong," and "self-sufficient" could help open the door for a woman to be president.

Powers spoke next, saying it "doesn't actually help," but it does "win votes," and it does "get the base excited."

Vester then brought up Hillary Clinton (I thought this was about candidates' wives), and Crowley responded that nobody "really had a problem" with Laura Bush, but with Hillary Clinton we were told we were getting "two for the price of one."

Powers continued with: "people who don't like Hillary Clinton" are people who "just don't like Democrats." Powers then argued that Hillary Clinton is liked by lots of different people. Levine then spoke, saying Heinz Kerry's "positives" are increasing.

Heading for a break, Vester said: "More First Lady roulette" coming up.

Back from the break at 1:42 Vester asks whether or not "we're going to see Laura Bush reintroducing" herself to the country?

Crowley: Laura Bush is "very engaging, sweet," a "reassuring presence" and a "steady hand in this White House."

Levine asked where Laura Bush has been in the last 3-1/2 years, and Vester jumped to Bush's defense saying whatever she was going was "her choice." (But, of course, on Fox, the same doesn't apply to Teresa Heinz Kerry or Hillary Clinton.)

Powers then said it was a mistake for the White House "not to have her out more," she's "lovely." Which Vester confirmed by saying, "She is."

Powers continued, saying that it humanizes a candidate's family when they're seen in public.

The conversation continued until Powers (again, a "Democratic strategist") expressed frustration saying, "we're constantly on the defense about Democratic women," to which Vester responded that Powers was perceiving something "that's not there." Powers again: "There's a lot of attacking of outspoken Democratic women. I have no interest in attacking Laura Bush."

And, that essentially was the end of the discussion on "candidates' wives."

COMMENT: Remember, this was billed as a discussion about "candidates' wives." The name of Lynne Cheney was never mentioned. Other than in the intro (See, "See, These Guys Don't Miss a Beat" in the Dayside w/Linda Vester category, posted July 30, 2004.), I don't believe the name Elizabeth Edwards was either. But Hillary Clinton's was. The two Fox employees on the panel (Vester and Crowley) literally had nothing but praise for Laura Bush, and little, if anything good, to say about Teresa Heinz Kerry or Hillary Clinton, who, it seems to me, were the intended subjects of the segment. After all, Vester controls the conversation. She could have kept it on "candidates' wives" if she'd wanted to.

This is the Fox way. They set up a segment as being about one thing, but it soon degenerates into criticism of the enemy du jour and maybe even turns into a campaign commercial for Laura Bush.