Notable Quotables - 01/23/1989


Reagan and Blacks

"But Lee, blacks have looked at the past eight years and seen this administration retreat from civil rights, retreat from affirmative action, make South Africa no priority, continue to see a greater disparity economically between blacks and whites, foster a spirit of racism that hasn't been seen in 20 plus years. What makes you think blacks are going to say, okay, these [Republicans] are going to break with what used to be?"
- Question from Bryant Gumbel to RNC Chairman Lee Atwater on NBC's Today, January 19.


Inaugural Address

"We had heard that he was going to ask for the politics of inclusion, and indeed he did. A new activism, a new engagement in the lives of others, a yearning for greater tolerance. It's funny, he started out actually giving praise to Ronald Reagan and yet the 20 minutes of the speech is basically a rejection of everything that the Reagan years had been about."
- NBC's Bryant Gumbel after Bush speech.

"But certain times with George Bush there seems to be an irrelevancy, or he gets something wrong. We pointed out yesterday he referred to Benjamin Harrison dying of pneumonia after a chilly inauguration day, and of course it was William Tyler Harrison who died."
- NBC's John Cochran on William Henry Harrison.


Dan Rather

"I'd have Dan Rather read the news in a chair attached to a dunk tank. There'd be an 800 number for viewers to try calling, and the right random combination of digits would drop him in the water."
- Late Night with David Letterman head writer Steve O'Donnell on how to boost Rather's ratings. From January 23 Newsweek.


Ed Meese

"The report says disciplinary action would have been recommended if Meese were still Attorney General. The real impact of the report is as a reminder of the ethical problems that plagued the Reagan years, a reminder that comes in the final week of is administration."
- Anthony Collings on CNN PrimeNews, January 17.

"He acknowledged that major controversies that have arisen at the school under Allison's administration-over such matters as awarding a public service medal to Edwin Meese, former U.S. Attorney General, and bargaining university offices for major donations-represented a series of wrong judgments on questions of principle 'that I would not like to see repeated.'"
- Harvard University President Derek Bok on Kennedy School Government head Graham Allison. From the December 27 Boston Globe.


News Agenda

"A story on Page One of The New York Times almost automatically ensures further attention from other media....For many media executives, everywhere, Page One of the Times is the barometer of what's truly important to the world."
- Los Angeles Times media reporter David Shaw in a recent article.


School Prayer

"I was a, call it a victim of school prayer as a kid, and I certainly would not wish that on other kids."
- Ed Asner on John McLaughlin's One on One, January 1.


William Bennett

"An ultraconservative, Bennett served as Ronald Reagan's political lightning rod, and campaigned for massive cuts in federal spending on education, a fiscal approach that concerns many in Congress."
- Reporter Jim Miklaszewski on NBC Nightly News, January 12.


Medical Care

"Until that [society not making medical care a right] changes, the racial gap in health care will continue, and thousands will keep getting sicker more often and dying sooner than they should."
- Bob Faw on the January 16 CBS Evening News.


Reagan Legacy

David Letterman: "Does it say anywhere on any document, on any piece of paper that a President has got to talk to reporters?"
Sam Donaldson: "Absolutely not, but I think it, it doesn't do anyone any good if a President doesn't let people know what he's doing and thinking, assuming he is thinking...Before you know it he'll go on to Bitburg, he'll sell arms to the Ayatollah, he'll do things that are nutty."
- from NBC's Late Night with David Letterman, January 12.

"I predict historians are going to be totally baffled by how the American people fell in love with this man and followed him the way we did."
- CBS News White House reporter Lesley Stahl on NBC's Later with Bob Costas, January 11.

"I think there's a question mark on the domestic policy: I think he left an uncaring society....a government that was not as concerned."
- UPI White House reporter Helen Thomas on CBS News Nightwatch, December 30.

"Now, it was Rosalyn Carter who said that he makes people feel comfortable about their prejudices."
- Jack Nelson on Nightwatch, December 30.

"[Reagan's] obsesson with freedom abroad was not matched by any sense of justice at home for millions of Americans,and it is his lack of appreciation for the issues of equality, his failure to lead the nation toward healing in that area, is indeed also a part of his legacy and an unfortunate part. There are more people in poverty in this country today, and I don't believe their morale was built by Ronald Reagan. There are more homeless people in the streets of America today than there were when he came to office, a shame of the nation."
- Oakland Tribune Publisher Robert Maynard on ABC's This Week with David Brinkley, January 15.


Budget Cuts

"Thus, Mr. Reagan proposes curbing handouts to rich farmers, selling Amtrak and other government 'assets' (most of which lose money), limiting Medicare to a 9 percent rise, ending the legal services boondoggle, laying to rest the archaic Interstate Commerce Commission and stopping Small Business Administration loans to hustlers who fail to repay them. Will such sensible steps be taken? Of course not. In each case, the merry recipients will rise up and cry the western civilization will come to a crashing end if their benefits are touched. And the TV networks will do their bit, finding one old woman somewhere who would be discomfited and thus discrediting all spending restraint with the word 'heartless.'"
- B.J. Cutler, Editor in Chief of Scripps Howard Newspapers, in a column appearing in The Washington Times, January 12.


- L. Brent Bozell III; Publisher
- Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham; Editors
- Jim Heiser, Stewart Verdery, Dorothy Warner; Media Analysts
- Allison Dyer; Administrative Assistant