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QUESTIONS POSED TO FIRST LADY SPUR CREATION OF WATCHDOG GROUP

Angered by "outrageous" questions posed to Hillary Rodham Clinton about her personal life, a New York congresswoman said Friday that she would establish a group to monitor the media throughout the upcoming Senate campaign.

At a news conference at City Hall, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said the media need to be more closely scrutinized after the first lady was asked in Buffalo this week about her marriage and whether she'd had an extramarital affair.

"The questions raised in Buffalo crossed the line . . . The people in New York State don't care about these personal questions," Maloney said.

"Under no circumstances should Mrs. Clinton or Mayor Giuliani be asked questions that step over the zone of personal privacy," she added.

Maloney dubbed the group Media Privacy Watch. She said she would write the first lady and the mayor -- likely opponents in this year's Senate race - and ask them to report any "out-of-bounds" questions from the media, which she would compile and publicize.

In response to a question Wednesday, Mrs. Clinton told radio host Tom Bauerle of WGR-AM that she had not been unfaithful to her husband, President Clinton, and had not used marijuana or cocaine.

Mrs. Clinton added, "At some point we all have to say these questions, these speculations really divert attention (from) what we can do to work together."

The status of the first lady's marriage has long been the subject of speculation. Giuliani, who rarely appears with or speaks of his wife, Donna Hanover, has in recent years faced questions about his marriage and allegations of an affair, which he denies.

Several media experts noted there are other watchdog groups monitoring news reports, sometimes with a political slant.

Others present at the City Hall news conference, which included state Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, said they are asking not only that reporters refrain from asking personal questions, but that candidates refuse to answer them.

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