Notable Quotables - 05/11/1992


Riots? Look On The Bright Side

"We keep looking for some good to come out of this. Maybe it might help in putting race relations on the front burner, after they've been subjugated for so long as a result of the Reagan years."
- Bryant Gumbel, April 30 Today.


But Wait: They Weren't Exactly Riots...

"Increasingly, people are saying that all of the violence had very little to do with Rodney King. Instead, it was the desperate call of a community fighting for change."
- ABC reporter Tom Foreman, May 3 World News Sunday.


Shifting Blame

Much of Blame is Laid on Chief Gates

Slow Response by Police, National Guard Seen Fueling the Violence
- Washington Post, May 2

Fingers point at Mayor Bradley An angry statement after the verdict is blamed by some for the lawlessness that followed
- Washington Times, next day

Riots? Blame the Willie Horton Ad

"I think it's fascinating that this woman is speaking out of her gut, understanding that in 1988 when the late Lee Atwater orchestrated a campaign ad based on racial hatred, based on exploiting the difference as she said. This is a woman who, clearly, is speaking for many, many people who in 1988 under-estimated the impact of this. This woman now is saying, four years later, I understand that when this ad ran and when people voted on the basis of it, they played into an atmosphere that is conducive to the kind of miscarriage of justice we've just seen here."
- Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Alexis Moore reacting to a caller on C-SPAN's Journalists' Roundtable, May 1.

"We mentioned Willie Horton earlier. That kind of ad obviously plays into this whole situation. When you have such a calculus going on in the political community about how to set one group against another, you can actually exacerbate racist feelings."
- USA Today reporter Richard Wolf, same show.

"It would help, too, if the man who sanctioned the infamous Willie Horton ad during his 1988 run for the White House would admit his complicity in developing the images and code words that encourage whites to demonize blacks."
- Time special correspondent Michael Kramer, May 11 issue.

"This is a war within, and it seems to be calling for leadership of Lincolnesque dimensions, and I don't think George Bush is capable of it, since he has exploited the racial divisions in this country for a dozen years to further his political career... We ought to pay attention to people that we have neglected through a dozen years of Republican policies that have ignored the domestic agenda."
- Newsweek reporter Eleanor Clift on The McLaughlin Group, May 2.

"Bush does not have a great civil rights track record with many black Americans, beginning with the use of the controversial Willie Horton ads in the '88 campaign, through his initial veto of civil rights legislation. Mr. Bush will now have a long way to go to convince skeptical blacks that he is concerned about the way America's criminal justice system treats them."
- CBS reporter Randall Pinkston, May 1 CBS This Morning.

"Many are afraid the L.A. riots are going to be the Willie Horton of this campaign. Are you afraid they're going to have a very divisive effect? Does that concern you or are you playing that up?"
- Today co-host Katie Couric interviewing Pat Buchanan, May 6.


Reagan Made Them Do It

"Somebody who is in elected office ought to have enough guts to say `I know I may lose the election, but this is the result of the past ten, twelve, fifteen years of neglect, this is the result of putting selfish [sic] and greed ahead of the needs of us all.'"
- Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Alexis Moore, May 1 Journalists' Roundtable on C-SPAN.

"It's not a big surprise that the jury in suburban Simi Valley sided with the white policemen. Just as it's no surprise that the blacks in downtown Los Angeles rioted and people died... Politicians have fanned these flames with code words about `welfare queens,' `equal opportunity,' and `quotas.' Language designed to turn whites against blacks. With two-party politics that favored the rich and hurt everyone else."
- NBC commentator John Chancellor, April 30 Nightly News.

"During the '80s nobody even talked about it. It was like everything was fine. If we shut up, it would all go away... Taking their cues from Washington, most Americans over the past dozen years have chosen to ignore the issue of civil rights, and the growing signs of racial division."
- Bryant Gumbel, May 1 Today.

"Increasingly the state [California] is populated by sharply contrasting classes of people: wealthy suburban communities growing richer...crowded cities full of poor people who strain local budgets and services...This should build a case against the Republicans, who have inhabited the White House for the last 12 years and have pursued now-failed economic and social policies."
- Washington Post reporter Juan Williams, May 3 Sunday "Outlook" section.

"America's poor urban children get by far the poorest schools. In a recent study, 44 percent of urban school buildings were judged simply too old and many of those have had virtually no maintenance since 1981. Between $100 and $160 billion would be needed just to bring school buildings up to minimum standards."
- ABC reporter Bill Blakemore, May 4 World News Tonight.


$2.6 Trillion Not Enough: Spend More

"What we saw in the streets of Los Angeles was the new reality of poverty in America - the past due bills, so to speak, of 25 years of societal and government neglect."
- Newsweek's Tom Morganthau, May 11.

"In an election year, some are wondering if politicians dare spend the kind of money that's needed in the inner cities. After all, doing what's needed may help a lot of people who don't vote, and anger a lot of people who do."
- CBS reporter John Blackstone, May 6 Evening News.


Don't Be Too Hard on the Oppressed

"We should avoid focusing exclusively on the rage and inappropriate behavior of oppressed and frustrated people who started these riots."
- Hugh Downs on ABC's 20/20, May 1.

Broder Explodes

"What we heard from the White House today, the lead item on your program, with Marlin Fitzwater saying this goes back to the failed policies of the 1960s, shows how quickly the Republicans and how callously the Republicans are prepared to exploit this familiar issue to them."
- Washington Post reporter and columnist David Broder, May 5 CNN Inside Politics.


Harry Smith, Optimist

"If you are like most Americans, you figured you were lucky that it couldn't happen in your town. Well, you might want to think again. America was shocked and appalled by the violence and riots in Los Angeles last week. But what we saw was not an aberration...Imagine a day when it's true in every American city. Impossible, you say? Wait, and you'll see what happens."
- CBS This Morning co-host Harry Smith, May 4 commentary.


- L. Brent Bozell III; Publisher
- Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham; Editors
- Brant Clifton, Nicholas Damask, Steve Kaminski, Marian Kelley, Tim Lamer; Media Analysts
- Jennifer Hardebeck; Circulation Manager