MediaWatch: July 1988

Vol. Two No. 7

No Hedging On Bentsen

TV network reporters had no problem deciding how to classify Senator Lloyd Bentsen, the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee. The Texan has consistently received ratings in the high 40's from both the American Conservative Union and the liberal Americans for Democratic Action, making him the very definition of a moderate Democrat.

But on July 12, the day Michael Dukakis chose Bentsen, Dan Rather called him a "conservative" as did ABC's Sam Donaldson. NBC's Ken Bode, a former Morris Udall campaign aide, claimed "Bentsen comes from the same conservative, Democratic faction that produced Lyndon Johnson." In detailing "his traditional conservatism," ABC's Jim Wooten described Bentsen as "against abortion" despite the fact that he has opposed anti-abortion amendments to the U.S. Constitution.