Notable Quotables - 09/22/1997


The System Spoiled Boy Scout Gore

"What we've done is, we've got a face on a corrupt system and we're doubting the probity who would ever have thought that you would doubt the probity of Vice President Al Gore and three nuns? So it seems to me you've got to look at the system when the system is corrupting people that you would not otherwise think."
- Time columnist Margaret Carlson on CNN's Capital Gang, September 6.

"There is no evidence that Gore knew about the reimbursement scheme. Plus, he insists he didn't know the event was a fundraiser in the first place. Still, an investigation into all of this could threaten one of Gore's most important political assets, his squeaky-clean image."
- ABC's Linda Douglass concluding a September 4 World News Tonight story on the Buddhist temple event.


Can't We Ignore Corruption and Just Get Along?

Linda Douglass: "Today one Democratic Senator held out an olive branch to Senator Thompson. He said, 'Look, forget the Chinese plot, the hearings are important because they're exposing the evil influence of money in politics.' At that moment Senator Thompson's face relaxed, he said then he was sorry if he left the wrong impression. And it's clear that many of the Senators now want to diffuse the partisan warfare and get this whole messy issue behind them."

Peter Jennings: "That will be a relief to the public."
- September 9 World News Tonight exchange about fundraising hearings that did not mention testimony by former DNC Chairman Don Fowler.



Nuns Tell of Panic About Fund-Raiser Documents Destroyed or Altered to Conceal Temple's Role With DNC
- Washington Post, September 5

Nuns Say Temple Event With Gore Was Not a Fund-Raiser
- New York Times, same day


ABC's Anything-But-Paula Policy

"I would much rather that this story didn't exist, that it didn't happen, that the suit had never come up. I don't particularly enjoy it. I don't think the American public, the majority doesn't enjoy it. I think there are Clinton-haters who would like to be able to use this issue to hurt him. It's difficult to know whether there's a case there or not, because we're outside the process. But I would much rather be talking about much larger issues than this one."
- ABC White House reporter John Donvan on CNN's Talk Back Live, September 16.

"I work for an Executive Producer [Paul Friedman] who has consciously said that until he is sure on a daily basis that there's really news there [about Paula Jones] that has really moved forward, that it's relevant, that it matters to the public, that he will make the choice not to do the story. And I think that may be one explanation for why we've done it less than others. But I've always disagreed with the notion that the news happens to us. We make decisions about it."
- Donvan, minutes later.


"Moderate" vs. "Ultraconservative"

"It was high political drama. Former Governor Bill Weld Harvard educated, patrician, moderate against a lion of the Old South, Jesse Helms, courtly and ultraconservative. Today, with Weld looking on, Helms made it clear it will be a cold day in Cancun before Weld becomes ambassador to Mexico..."
- NBC reporter Lisa Myers, September 12 Nightly News.


Gumbel's Political Dictionary

"It's hard to be defined as a conservative if you're a black man and care about black people. I think it's very difficult. Basically...'conservative' says the status quo is good. I mean, how can you look out there at the vast majority of people of color and say, 'Oh, yes. This is something I can applaud. It's a situation I'd like to keep. This is obviously working.' I don't see that. There are some conservatives of great character and some conservatives with great caring who would argue that proper conservatism says, 'Oh, no, we do want to change the status quo, but we want to do it in a different fashion than liberals want to do it'; i.e., Jack Kemp. I don't have a problem with that."
- CBS Public Eye host Bryant Gumbel in the September 5-7 USA Weekend.


Jesse Helms: Dictator, Terrorist & Bigot in One Convenient Package

Sam Donaldson: "I think Governor Weld has done this country a service in a sense, even though I think that he's been shot down in the ocean now, and that is by allowing the country to see Senator Helms in action. Over the years I've run into him two or three times at receptions here and he's the most gentlemanly, courtly, friendly, pleasant individual you would ever hope to meet. But, when you see him in action, you see beneath that courtliness beats the heart of a dictator and I think the country is appalled."
George Stephanopoulos: "Or a terrorist. The President is really, I think made a mistake because he's been negotiating with a terrorist here."
- Exchange on ABC's This Week, September 14.

"It was really a lovely example of dogmatism interpreted as a grand act of principle on the right by a rather bigoted, narrow- minded fellow."
- Chicago Tribune's James Warren, Sept. 14 CNN Capital Gang.

"He had deep roots in the conservative traditions of the Old South. In his campaigns, Helms had been known to exploit the race issue for political advantage, which is exactly how slave owners and conservatives used to dominate Southern politics."
- CNN's William Schneider in the Los Angeles Times, August 10.

"When Republicans gained control of the Senate after the 1994 elections, sweeping him into the chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Helms appeared determined to live up to his reputation, developed by years in the minority, as an extremist, an obstructionist, an isolationist."
- New York Times reporters Richard L. Berke and Steven Lee Myers, August 2.

"It was vintage Bill Weld. The former Republican Governor of Massachusetts defiant in defeat said his losing battle with arch conservative Jesse Helms taught him how Washington works. But even some Republicans say they're embarrassed by Senator Helms dictatorial tactics his refusal even to grant Weld a hearing."
- NBC News White House reporter David Bloom, September 16 Today.


Okay for Kitty Kelley to Knock Nancy Reagan, But Not the Queen

"Buckingham Palace says it hasn't seen the book and anyway, it says, it doesn't comment on what it calls tittle-tattle. But just about everyone else mentioned in it seems to have and they've all called it junk...The book certainly will not help the already tarnished Royal reputations, but it isn't being published here because British libel laws are stricter than American. So however much in bad taste the book seems now in light of recent events, Kelley won't have to worry about lawsuits. Instead, she'll merely be embarrassed all the way to the bank."
- CBS News reporter Mark Phillips concluding a September 17 This Morning story.


"So the world, it seems, must know. Did Nancy Reagan really recycle gifts to her own grandchildren? Is the stuff in the book true or just vindictive tales? Who knows? Who cares?"
- Phillips concluding an April 8, 1991 Evening News story on Kitty Kelley's biography of Nancy Reagan.


At Least the Queen is Anti-Thatcher

Katie Couric: "Does she [Queen Elizabeth] have any redeeming qualities?"
Kitty Kelley: "Indeed she does. In fact I think one of the most outstanding was when she felt that the economic policies of Margaret Thatcher were so harsh to the poor that she really did say something."
- September 17 Today.