Media Fellow Norah O'Donnell on "All the President's Women"

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Media Fellow Norah O'Donnell, chief White House correspondent for MSNBC News, discussed the women who serve in President George W. Bush's administration in her remarks at a media fellows seminar titled "All the President's Women" on October 4. The current administration, O'Donnell said, has more women in high-ranking positions than any other administration.

The recent nomination by President Bush of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court follows other prominent appointments he has made, including the appointment of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, Karen Hughes as undersecretary for public diplomacy, and Margaret Spellings as secretary of education. As trusted and loyal advisers, O'Donnell said, these women are considered part of the family.

In turn, O'Donnell examined the influence of each woman within her professional sphere. At the Department of State, O'Donnell said, Rice is pursuing a course of "pragmatic realism" and is well received by foreign leaders who respect the close ties she has with the president. Rice brought Hughes on board at the state department for her strengths in public relations and damage control. O'Donnell quoted Karl Rove, who said at one time that Spellings is "the most influential woman in Washington, D. C., you've never heard of." Spellings, O'Donnell said, is the force behind No Child Left Behind and was appointed by President Bush to save the heart of his domestic policy. Before Miers's Supreme Court nomination she served as White House counsel, deputy chief of staff, and staff secretary, a job in which she reviewed virtually every document that went before the president.

O'Donnell also noted the important role Laura Bush plays as the president's confidante and adviser. O'Donnell, who has interviewed the first lady five times and has traveled with her on trips overseas, quoted Mrs. Bush as saying that she is proud of the president for surrounding himself with such strong, smart women.

O'Donnell has been a correspondent with NBC News since 1999. Before her current assignment O'Donnell served as a White House correspondent with NBC News from September 2003 to May 2005. Before joining NBC News, O'Donnell had been a staff writer covering Congress for Roll Call.

The Media Fellows Program allows print and broadcast media professionals to spend time in residence at the Hoover Institution. Media fellows have the opportunity to exchange information and perspectives with Hoover scholars through seminars and informal meetings and with the Hoover and Stanford communities in public lectures. As fellows, they have the full range of research tools the Hoover offers available to them. More than 100 of the nation's top journalists have visited the Hoover Institution recently and interacted with Hoover fellows on key public policy issues, including