Notable Quotables - 06/10/2002

Rather: Ashcroft Saved Himself & Let Others Fly in Harm's Way

"Increasingly, there are important questions that need to be asked...For example, the Attorney General of the United States before, just before September 11th, started inexplicably taking private aircraft to places where normally the Attorney General wouldn't take private aircraft, you know, government planes. Well, that would indicate that somebody somewhere was getting pretty worried, but if you're going to share that with the Attorney General, you know, why wasn't it shared with the public at large?"
-CBS's Dan Rather on the Imus in the Morning radio program, simulcast on MSNBC, May 22.

Reality Check:
"There was a personal threat assessment done by security agencies at Justice, and it was determined that since John Ashcroft is such a polarizing figure, that the threat assessment against him would be high, and that shortly after he was sworn in, he started taking government planes all the time. It was recommended for his own security....It had nothing at all to do with any terrorist threat."
-NBC's Jim Miklaszewski later on the same program.

Dan Repeated Specious Charge


"I never said that the Attorney General was warned specifically about 9/11 threats and, therefore, covered his own security. I did point out the following, that in the summer before September 11th, the Attorney General, for whatever reason, and I assume rightfully, decided that it wasn't safe for him to ride the airlines....In other words, when the Attorney General heard a threat, it was decided that, immediately and expensively, he would be taken care of on a security front. Now, I'm okay with that.
"Now, what some people are asking, and this is what I reported on your program and some of the people include the relatives of victims of September 11th what they're asking is that, okay, then when there came threats about the American flying public, there were threats bubbling up all over the place, the public was not told about that and, therefore, could not make their own decisions about their security...."
"At the same time he [Ashcroft]'s cutting back the counter-terrorism budget, he's arranging for a private plane to fly himself around. That doesn't look particularly good. There may have been good reasons for it...but let's have an independent commission look into all of this."
-Rather on Imus in the Morning on May 24.


Fearing J. Edgar Hoover's Return...


"I talk to a lot of civil libertarians in my job, and often they have, you know, interesting things to say, they're often outraged about things that the Justice Department does. This week I felt as if they were really scared. I mean, they were really worried about the changes that were coming about at the behest of the Justice Department. They're worried that we are kind of rolling back to the period of the Hoover era, basically, when we saw FBI agents collecting information on civil rights leaders or anti-war protesters, Martin Luther King."
-National Public Radio's Barbara Bradley on PBS's Washington Week, May 31.


...But Unable to Discern Web Surfing from E-mail Snooping


"Mr. Attorney General, in changing the investigative guidelines for the FBI, a lot of civil libertarians worry that you are now free to read my e-mail, to follow me to church, to look at what books I buy on Amazon or take out of the library. Aren't these changes really ripe for abuse?"
"The old guidelines that were in effect came into being because there were abuses of the development of the enemies list in the Nixon days and the kind of eavesdropping that occurred with Dr. Martin Luther King his tax records checked, people's tax records checked, that kind of thing. Doesn't this open, doesn't this open up the situation for that kind of thing again?"
-ABC's Charles Gibson to John Ashcroft on Good Morning America, May 31. The new FBI rules let agents visit Internet sites and public places, but not read individual's e-mail or confidential records.

Brokaw: Global Warming Needs to Be "Acknowledged," Not Proved


"A sharp turnaround for the Bush administration on global warming, in a new report that for the first time this White House acknowledges human activity is responsible for greenhouse gases, and the problem poses some threats to this country's future."
-NBC's Tom Brokaw on the June 3 Nightly News.

"Yesterday, the Bush administration appeared to be making a major change and acknowledging that global warming is caused by human pollution. Tonight, another U-turn in the other direction."
-Brokaw the next night, after President Bush distanced himself from the EPA's report on climate change.


If She's Centrist, Who's Liberal?

"Neutral observers give her [Hillary Clinton] high marks for the way she has blended into the Senate's clubby culture, even joining conservative Republicans in a weekly prayer group. The junior senator for New York has never been the wild-eyed liberal her critics imagine....The former First Lady's makeover as a political centrist dates back to the shellacking she took as the architect of the health-care plan that almost sank the Clinton presidency."
-Newsweek's Eleanor Clift in her May 31 online column for During her first year in the Senate, the liberal Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) awarded Clinton's votes a near-perfect 95% approval rating, a record which makes her as "centrist" as Barbara Boxer, Chris Dodd, Barbara Mikulski and Chuck Schumer.


Peter's Preachy Polemic


"The pharmaceutical industry's products have saved and improved millions of lives, but overall, are we getting our moneys worth? We do not believe so....The rules by which this hugely profitable industry operates do not always serve consumers adequately, and nothing is going to happen no matter how angry consumers get unless the Congress and the President decide that the time has come. The country can do better."
-ABC's Peter Jennings in his prime time Peter Jennings Reporting special, "Bitter Medicine: Pills, Profit and the Public Health," May 29.


ABC Anchors Exasperated by Stossel's Defense of Free Markets

John Miller: "Well, when you look at these things like the Enron case, - which is mentioned in your story - you're always saying there should be totally free enterprise, limited regulation. Doesn't a story like that cry out for tough government regulations of these corporations?"
John Stossel: "Everybody's bashing capitalism over Enron. I think this is an example of how the market works. The fact that its big news shows how seldom this happens. In a multi-trillion-dollar economy, you're going to have some bad companies, but they got caught. They're not doing it anymore."
Barbara Walters: "The government helped to catch them."
Stossel: "Well, the private sector dropped the stock. That's what really caught them. When government loses money, they don't go to jail, they don't get hauled up and punished for it. They just get more money."
Walters to Miller: "We can't win."
Miller: "No, we can't win."
-Exchange on ABC's 20/20, May 24.

Three Communists = All Germans


"In Germany, outcry from protesters demanding Bush back down. At the Bundestag today, as the President spoke, members of Parliament disrupted his remarks, unfurling a banner calling for Bush and German Chancellor Schroeder to quote, 'Stop Your Wars.'"
-NBC's Campbell Brown on the May 23 Nightly News.

John Roberts: "President Bush today urged the leaders of a reunified Germany to stay the course, declaring while the Cold War may be over, the war on terrorism has only just begun."
President Bush: "There can be no lasting security in a world at the mercy of terrorists for my nation or for any nation."
Roberts: "It's a tough sell among skeptical Germans. Some in the chamber heckled the President, calling for him to 'Stop Your Wars.'"
-CBS Evening News, May 23. The Washington Post reported the heckling came from three lawmakers from the Party of Democratic Socialism, the old East German Communist Party.


Jim Jeffords, Still a Media Hero

"In a place dominated by Olympic-sized egos, he was always one of the quiet ones, a guy without much sizzle, the kind of guy most of us in the news media usually ignored. But on that one fateful day a year ago, Jeffords rocked the political world and made a move that historians will still be talking about a hundred years from now."
-Jonathan Karl introducing a CNN special report which aired on May 23, a year after Jeffords left the GOP and voted to put the Democrats in charge of the Senate.


Dowd's Fabricated "Hissy Fit"

"After NBC's David Gregory asked Mr. Chirac, who speaks English, in French if he would like to comment on a question hed asked Mr. Bush about Europe's view of America as imperious, Mr. Bush had a petit fit....He was tired and he let his famously thin skin show too easily.
"There is something bizarre about watching an Andover-, Yale- and Harvard-educated President, the grandson of an elegant Connecticut Senator and the son of a gracious internationalist President, have a hissy fit because a reporter asks a legitimate question about European angst and talks to a Frenchman in French."
-Former White House correspondent and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in her May 29 column.

"He was very funny. He's very quick with the one-liner."
-Gregory's reaction to the same event, as recounted on the May 28 Imus in the Morning. The videotape shows Bush chuckling during the entire exchange.