Flashback: Media Liberals Vilified Thatcher as 'Uncaring,' 'Shrill,' 'Ruthless' and a 'Dictator'
As the world pauses to remember the legendary British Prime Minister Margeret Thatcher, it's also worth remembering how the liberal media -- both in Britain and in the United States -- were horrified at her conservative policies. Just as they do now, liberal journalists back then sneeringly portrayed any resistance to left-wing big government as "uncaring" or lacking compassion."
Of course, in spite of the media's condemnations, Thatcher persevered and successfully pushed back against some of the worst socialist policies Britain enacted in the 1950s through the 1970s.
The Media Research Center was founded in 1987, too late to pick up the nasty media insults hurled during Thatcher's first two terms, but quotes from our archives give a flavor to how the media regarded her in the late 1980s and 1990s, using words like "shrill," "inflexible," "unsympathetic," and running "an elective dictatorship."
"Mrs. Thatcher has proved to be an Iron Lady at home and abroad....And in the process, she converted 10 Downing Street into what's been described as an elective dictatorship."
-- John Laurence on ABC's World News Tonight, May 3, 1989.
"Thatcher has ruthlessly applied her conservative solutions."
-- NBC's Peter Kent on Nightly News, same night.
Correspondent Barrie Dunsmore: "Thatcher's ultrahard-line is no longer so much in fashion at home or abroad."
Gerald Kaufman: "People are sick and tired of her for the same reason that they're sick and tired of her at the NATO summit. She's shrill, obstinate, inflexible, unsympathetic."
Dunsmore: "On European issues, Thatcher is opposed to everything from cancer warnings on cigarette packs to strict pollution controls on cars to teaching two foreign languages in schools....The satirists have always made fun of her lack of compassion."
Thatcher puppet: "We believe that people should be able to stand on their own two feet. [puppet steals woman's cane] So give me that stick."
Dunsmore: "Now the people on the street are saying it."
Unidentified Man: "I think that she lacks compassion.
Second man: "I characterize her as a very uncaring person, very uncaring person."
-- ABC's World News Tonight, June 1, 1989.
"The worst riot in central London in this century, sparked by a new tax here called the poll tax....But many in Britain believe the riots were also an expression of anger about a decade of Margaret Thatcher's policies. The division between haves and have nots has widened."
-- ABC's Barrie Dunsmore on World News Tonight, April 12, 1990.
"A Thatcher revolution has brought great prosperity to some, but such basic elements in Britain's welfare state as health service, education, and housing have all deteriorated under Thatcher."
-- ABC reporter Barrie Dunsmore on World News Tonight, November 20, 1990.
"Margaret Thatcher leaves behind a unique and complicated legacy. She came to office promising to 'renew the spirit and solidarity of the nation,' yet divided Britain between north and south, haves and have-nots, winners and losers."
-- Washington Post reporter Glenn Frankel, November 25, 1990.
"Thatcher is (one yearns to finally say 'was') an instructive example to Americans of what happens when the mechanics of a parliamentary democracy unite a right-wing extremist with an automatic majority of constitutionally docile legislators -- hell. In 11 years, she never could persuade a majority of her country's voters to support her, and thus her policies, for the simple reason that she and her policies never ceased being inimical to their welfare."
-- Boston Globe columnist and former reporter Tom Oliphant, November 28, 1990.
Reporter Jamie Gangel: "When pressed, Thatcher does say the only way she would go back to Downing Street was if there was some sort of national emergency, which she says she hopes will never happen."
Co-host Bryant Gumbel: "I'm sure there are millions of others who hope that will never happen, too."
-- Exchange from Today, June 30, 1995.
Co-host Katie Couric: "Does she [Queen Elizabeth] have any redeeming qualities?"
Kitty Kelley: "Indeed she does. In fact I think one of the most outstanding was when she felt that the economic policies of Margaret Thatcher were so harsh to the poor that she really did say something."
-- September 17, 1997 Today.
-- Rich Noyes is Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.