Former CBS Political Director Dotty Lynch Dies; Former Pollster to McGovern, Carter, Kennedy and Mondale

On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported the death of former CBS News political editor Dotty Lynch at age 69. Lynch had a long resume in liberal Democratic Party politics, so it wasn’t unusual at all that she would then be directing CBS political coverage. She was an obvious example of the revolving door between the Democrats and the "objective" media.

“She proposed stories for Dan Rather and any other reporters who wanted to cover politics,” longtime CBS reporter Lesley Stahl told the Post’s Adam Bernstein by e-mail.

“She knew everyone. If I, for instance, was working on a story, I would ask her who I should call for background or for on-camera interviews. We all knew she had the keys to the kingdom: She had the contacts, knew what all the polls were saying and how to interpret them. She helped shaped our pieces and made sure we were accurate.”

The Post reported that growing up in Brooklyn, Lynch’s closest childhood friend was the daughter of Hugh Carey, the liberal Democrat and future New York governor. After a short stint as an NBC News researcher in 1968, Lynch spent most of the 1970s working as a pollster with Pat Caddell, who worked for George McGovern in 1972 and Jimmy Carter in 1976.  Lynch left Caddell to advise Ted Kennedy’s 1980 presidential primary campaign against Carter. In 1984, she was chief pollster for Gary Hart’s presidential campaign, and then worked for Democratic nominee Walter Mondale.

It was hardly changing teams to join CBS News for a 20-year stint from 1985 to 2005. In 1999, former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos wrote in his memoir that "it wasn't a hard sell" when he pushed Lynch to ignore Paula Jones when she accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment in 1994. (This showed Lynch was one of those Clinton-excusing feminists.) Bernstein added:

She became best known, during her work in the 1970s and early 1980s for the Democratic Party, for illuminating the opinions of female voters...

“She’s the person who raised the consciousness of the party leaders on the voter gap between men and women,” Democratic political consultant Bob Squier told The Washington Post in 1983. “She translated it and made people aware of it.”

After joining CBS as political editor in 1985, Ms. Lynch covered presidential campaigns, national political conventions, midterm elections, and presidential and vice presidential debates. She managed an in-house team of researchers who provided polling and analysis to anchors and correspondents such as Mike Wallace, Bob Schieffer, Diane Sawyer and Lesley Stahl.

Politico reported that veteran Clinton aide Mandy Grunwald proclaimed she was not only a pioneering role model for women in politics, but “She always gave me great advice, and I know she was a mentor to a lot of people in the business — particularly women.” Grunwald said Lynch was “relishing the thought of a Hillary presidential campaign.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis