First Ladies and the Fourth Estate: Media Coverage of Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Dole in the 1996 Presidential Campaign
Dianne G. Bystrom Iowa State University
Lori Melton McKinnon University of Alabama
Carole Chaney San Diego State University
During the 1996 presidential election, candidates Bill Clinton and Bob Dole were not the only powerful political leaders attracting media attention and comment. The candidates' wives--First LadyHillary Rodham Clinton and Elizabeth Hanford Dole, former Secretary of Labor and of Transportation and current president of the American Red Cross--also were the subjects of media coverage and public discussion.
Although the public and the media have been interested in the activities of the wife of the president since the founding of the nation, 1996 featured a new twist in this relationship. For the first time, the campaign for president offered two "nontraditional" wives--women who had powerful careers apart from their husband's political positions--for the role of first lady of the United States.
Despite the departure from traditional roles and expectations pioneered by Rodham Clinton in her first 4 years as first lady, the public and the media still seemed to hold many stereotypical views and biases regarding the appropriate role of the first lady in the administration. Like many powerful political women who violate stereotypical role expectations, Rodham Clin