MediaWatch: March 1996

Vol. Ten No. 3

Revolving Door: Coming Aboard Bill's Team

Two network veterans have joined the effort to re-elect President Clinton. In the Clinton-Gore campaign office, Roll Call reported that Joseph Lockhart, who bounces between Democratic presidential campaigns and network slots, has bounced again, this time into the national press secretary slot. Lockhart was an assistant press secretary to Democratic candidate Walter Mondale in 1984, then Press Secretary to Senator Paul Simon until becoming assignment editor for ABC News in Chicago in 1985. He put in a stint as a deputy assignment editor at CNN before joining the 1988 Dukakis-Bentsen campaign as a traveling press aide. Stuart Schear, the off-air health and science reporter until last year for the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour, has joined the White House press office as coordinator of local and national TV interviews with the President, The Washington Post reported. For the July/August 1995 Mother Jones, Schear wrote "a consumer guide to the health insurer's new, overheated advertising campaigns."

Politics in All News

ABC and Fox have chosen political operatives to head their future all-news cable channels. ABC News President Roone Arledge went left, hiring back former ABC News executive Jeff Gralnick from NBC News where he's been Executive Producer of the NBC Nightly News since 1993. In 1971 Gralnick served as Press Secretary to liberal Senator George McGovern (D-S.D.). After promoting the future presidential candidate, Gralnick jumped to ABC, where by 1979 he had risen to Executive Producer of World News Tonight. He oversaw all election coverage for ABC since 1980, becoming Vice President and Executive Producer of special events in 1985.

Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch went to the right, naming Roger Ailes, President of CNBC since 1993, as the chief executive of the Fox All News Network as well as of the Fox broadcast news operation. While producer of the Mike Douglas Show in the 1960s, Ailes met Richard Nixon and left the show to become media adviser to the 1968 Republican candidate's successful run. He spent the next two decades devising media and ad strategies for GOP candidates, including Ronald Reagan and George Bush. In 1992 he took the helm of the Rush Limbaugh TV show as its Executive Producer.

Raking in the Dough

Six media veterans are making out pretty well at the White House, a June 26, 1995 payroll report shows. The March 1 Washington Times ran the list of salaries of 407 White House staffers released by the Senate Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on the Treasury, Postal Service and general government.

The list shows that speechwriting head Donald Baer, a former U.S. News Assistant Managing Editor, earns $125,000 a year. Wall Street Journal and Time reporter turned speechwriter Daniel Benjamin gets $80,000, as do speechwriters Carolyn Curiel, a former Nightline producer, and Alison Muscatine, a former Washington Post reporter who also helped write First Lady Hillary Clinton's book It Takes a Village. Deputy Press Secretary Virginia Terzano, a CBS News election unit researcher in 1988, pulls down $66,000. At the bottom end lies Anne Edwards at $50,000, a former CBS News assignment editor and Senior Editor for NPR who now runs the press advance operation.

TV to Computer Screen

First she reported the news, then she spun the news. Now Kathleen deLaski will do both in cyberspace. America Online has named her general manager of its politics section. In 1988 she became an on-air report-er in Washington for ABC, jumping to the Clinton team in 1993 as Chief Public Affairs Officer for the Department of Defense where she remained through late 1994. For the past year she's been Deputy to the Undersecretary for Policy Liaison.