CBS became the second network to turn down an unusual request from Republican leaders, who want their response to President Clinton’s State of the Union speech to air a day later in prime time.
The network considers it in the public’s interest to air both the president’s speech and the GOP response on Tuesday night, Andrew Heyward, president of CBS News, said Sunday.
“We feel strongly that these two events have been linked through long tradition for a very good reason,” Heyward wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
“Presenting the two speeches back-to-back will ensure the widest possible audience for both points of view,” Heyward wrote.
ABC turned down the Republicans’ request last week; NBC has yet to respond.
On Saturday, Dole said he hoped for the 24-hour-delay after Clinton’s speech “to sort of let him have his day and let us have our day.”
It was up to Dole, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, to choose who will make his party’s formal response. GOP officials have said Dole was likely to select himself, but he has not announced his choice.
Dole, R-Kan., and Gingrich, R-Ga., asked Friday by letter if they could deliver their response on Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST. The letter went to news executives at ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, PBS and the Fox Broadcasting Co.
NBC the network would make a final decision on Monday.