Remembering 1999's Lows

Many conservatives can't stand to watch a minute of the liberal evening news on TV. But somebody has to do it. Every day, down the hall from my office, six brave young men and women strap on headphones and subject themselves to hours and hours of network news. The mindless happy talk. The plane crashes. The school shootings and what-does-this-mean. The death of John- John. The endless JonBenet Ramsey case. What fad diet will help you or harm you. Dan Rather strapping himself to a pole for a hurricane.

It's enough to drive you to drink. So hoist a glass and join me in a decade's-end toast to these news watchers and their long-suffering supervisors for harvesting another bumper crop of obnoxious examples of liberal bias for the ballot of "The Best Notable Quotables of 1999." In an annual pain-inflicting ritual, a panel of 50 prominent journalists, columnists, talk show hosts and other luminaries have selected the lowest media moments in a very low political year.

Bubbling over in bad taste, New York Times reporter Adam Clymer grasped the "Media Hero Award" by compartmentalizing for Ted Kennedy: "His achievements as a Senator have towered over his time, changing the lives of far more Americans than remember the name Mary Jo Kopechne." Apparently, leaving Kopechne dead at Chappaquiddick shouldn't ruin a compassionate liberal's halo.

No remembrance of 1999 would be complete without the Juanita Broaddrick story, and how we learned what lengths our faux-feminist press would go to suppress a rape charge against the President. The "See No Evil Award" went to MSNBC David Gregory, who was having fun one afternoon in August exploiting George W. Bush's refusal to discuss alleged cocaine use, when the RNC's Cliff May countered by pointing out Bill Clinton's "my lawyer has spoken" dodge. Gregory cut him off at the knees: "I'm not going to let you go there. We are not talking about this today. We're not going to turn that into this...I'm going to stop you. I'm hosting the program. It is not a double standard. We have a clear focus today. I'm asking the questions."

NBC News sat on the Broaddrick interview until the impeachment trial was smothered, but reporters hinted at their feelings by portraying the House managers as a lynch mob of judgmental white Christian men, which reminded them of the Ku Klux Klan. In honor of the movie star's "joke" about stoning Henry Hyde and his family, the judges handed the "Alec Baldwin Award (for Hate Speech Against the Presidential Impeachers)" to Newsweek Clinton ogler Eleanor Clift, who declared "that herd of managers from the House, I mean frankly all they were missing was white sheets. They're like night riders going over."

Geraldo Rivera is so over the top he has to be caged in his own category. But "The Politics of Personal Destruction Award (for Geraldo Rivera's Hatemongering) also found racist House managers, "All of whom are born-again, all of whom are right-to-lifers, all of whom are you know, anti-immigration, pro-English Only...don't you think that when that face is presented, isn't that one of the reasons the majority, the vast majority of the American people support the President? When they look at the people prosecuting, some say persecuting him, and say, wait a second, those people wouldn't even let me into their home or their neighborhood or to work along side them?" See how easily being pro-life fits with hating minorities?

Washington Post reporter Lonnae O'Neal Parker took the "Damn Those Conservatives Award." As she watched the miniseries "Roots," where the slave Fiddler offers to whip fellow slave Kunta Kinte, Parker explained: "And instantly, my mind draws political parallels. Ward Connerly, I think to myself. Armstrong Williams. Shelby Steele. Hyperbole, some might say. I say dead-on. 'Clarence Thomas,' I say to my Cousin Kim. And she just stares at me. She may be a little tender yet for racial metaphors. I see them everywhere." Slurs against black conservatives, that's what we see everywhere.

ABC News anchor Carole Simpson took "Quote of the Year" dishonors for her November love-in with our impeached President. Inside an Arkansas tomato factory, she sounded like a self- absorbed groupie: "I have to bask in this moment, for a moment, because I am here talking to the most powerful man on the planet, who was a poor boy from Arkansas...Place like this. I am an African-American woman, grew up working class on the south side of Chicago, and this is a pretty special moment for me to be here talking to you. How does it feel talking to me? That I made it, too, when people said I wouldn't be able to?"

I can't speak for others, but it makes me feel yummy all over.