CyberAlert -- 12/31/1997 -- MRC Alert: Best Notable Quotables of 1997: Second & Third Runners-Up

MRC Alert: Best Notable Quotables of 1997: Second & Third Runners-Up

1) Just one item today, but a lengthy one: The second and third runners-up in the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 1997: The Tenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." >>>> The latest Media Reality Check fax report is now on the MRC Web page. Put out just before Christmas, the one-page report is titled "18 Felony Charges Against Ex-HUD Secretary Cisneros Pales Next to Story of Cosby Paternity Squabble: Indicting the Clinton Cabinet? Yawn." To read the report on how the networks barely touched the indictment, click on "Media Reality Check" at the top of the MRC home page: Or, go directly to: <<<<


1) Continuing from where the December 30 CyberAlert left off, below are the second and third runners-up in the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 1997: The Tenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." To read the first runners-up, read the December 30 CyberAlert. For the winners and the list of judges, check the December 29 CyberAlert. Information on how to order a hard copy appears at the end of this issue.

The panel of 58 judges voted on six to eight quotes in each of 16 categories. In tallying the results their first place picks were awarded three points, second choices got two points and third best selections earned one point. The point totals are listed in brackets after each quote.

Some categories below have one quote (the second runner-up) and others have two (the second and third runners-up) depending on how many quotes we were able to fit into the hard copy edition. Quote of the Year (second and third runners-up)

++ "Earlier tonight, we reported the President's apology for medical experiments that allowed black Americans to die of syphilis. The President noted how badly this hurt public trust in government, especially among minorities. The same criticism is being made today on another score. As CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports, it's the fallout from California's voter-approved ban on state affirmative action programs." -- Dan Rather introducing May 16 CBS Evening News story on drop in minority admissions. [66]

++ "The problem [of pedophiles] has been made only worse by the passage of Proposition 187. It specifically says that no public funds can be used to provide social services to anyone who's in this country illegally. That means that even if social workers for the city or the state wanted to help the boys of Balboa Park they couldn't. It would be against the law. Proposition 187 is now being challenged in court, but its message is clear." -- John Quinones in March 19 Prime Time Live story on pedophiles preying on Mexican boys in a San Diego park. [50]

Clinton Camelot Award (for Creating a Clinton-Gore Mythology)

++ "Gore's commitment to the world of big ideas is no pose. Unlike John F. Kennedy and Adlai Stevenson, who became darlings of the highbrow set without fully earning the honor, Gore is truly engaged in the life of the mind...Had the younger Gore not become a Congressman at 28, a Senator at 36, and Vice President at 44, he might have become the sort of essayist who aspires to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters." -- U.S. News Senior Writer Timothy Noah, January 27 issue. [57]

++ "As he begins his second term you may lament that President Clinton leaves little eloquence. But in an age of focus groups and consultants saying, "Keep it short. Don't take sides,' few politicians do. He faces personal charges about his conduct in a motel bedroom. And ethical allegations about opening the Lincoln bedroom to the highest contributor. But you come back to the fact that if Bill Clinton isn't always trusted he has twice been entrusted by the largest responsibility we have to bestow by voters who can have few illusions. Instead they seem to trust that as President Clinton displays his own excesses and frailties he forgives and accepts ours, too." -- NPR weekend anchor Scott Simon, January 19 NBC Today. [47]

The Harold Ickes "System Made Me Do It" Award

++ "Your hearings clearly reinforced the public's already low opinion of politicians and politics. Beyond that, what did it accomplish?....At the same time you were criticizing the misdeeds of the Clinton administration, leaders of your own party were opposing changes in the law to outlaw these huge contributions that helped create this scandal. Do you think that undercut your credibility with the public?" -- Questions from NBC's Lisa Myers to Senator Fred Thompson, November 7 Today. [54]

++ "At times it will seem as if an individual, or a presidential campaign, or a political party is being investigated. That's only partly true. What's really in the dock beginning today isn't any politician but the system that politicians built. What's important beginning today isn't what one party can show about the other, but what the campaign-finance system shows about our political system....The hearings that begin this morning aren't really about John Huang and Charlie Trie or Abraham Lincoln's bedroom but about the political loophole ' unregulated "soft-money' contributions to the parties, not to the candidates ' that makes them important. Soft money exploded in 1996..." -- Boston Globe Washington Bureau Chief David Shribman, July 8 "news analysis." [50]

Lanny Davis No Controlling Legal Authority Award (for Clinton Scandal Denial)

++ "All right. So what if we made this case ' OK, he's pretty tough with fundraising. But there's no proof that the Chinese had any in, except they gave money. He did a bad deal for you. And he has turned on his friends maybe a little. But nobody made big money in Whitewater. It was years ago. He was in Arkansas. He's a good President. I am happy. No boy is dying overseas. Country seems to be coming around. Supreme Court is pretty good. Are you better off than you were four years ago? Yes. What I if I made that case?" -- Larry King to Jim McDougal, April 21 CNN Larry King Live. [52]

++ "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. [51]

Evil Elephant Empire Award (for Bashing Congressional Republicans)

++ "But there's another reason why all but nine of the 225 House Republicans backed Gingrich: deep reservations about the man next in line, the hard-right majority leader, Dick Armey. Just as Dan Quayle's lack of gravitas led many Republicans to pray for the health of George Bush, Armey's ideological stubbornness and hot-headed rhetoric inspire in his colleagues protective optimism about Gingrich....In a House brimming with mean-spirited rhetoric, Armey stands out." -- U.S. News & World Report Senior Writers Kent Jenkins Jr. and Paul Glastris, January 20 issue. [62]

++ "It'll be interesting when he sits down with Jiang Zemin, the President of China, and starts lecturing him about the rule of law though, I think. I'd like to be a fly on the wall in that session." -- New York Times columnist and former reporter Thomas Friedman disdaining Gingrich, March 21 PBS Washington Week in Review. [44]

Che Guevara Award (for Nostalgia for Communism)

++ "Under Cuba's communist form of government, a Cuban family's basic necessities, housing, education, health care, and transportation, are provided by the state for free or at very little cost." -- CBS This Morning co-host Jane Robelot, March 24. [57]

++ "An editor's note: When your reporter was in China recently, a very high ranking Chinese government official was repeatedly asked questions about religious persecution. He told me, and I quote directly, "These stories are untrue. We do, as you do, have some trouble with cults and we, like you, deal with them accordingly, but that's all.' End quote." -- CBS News anchor Dan Rather after a story on persecution of Christians in China, July 22 Evening News. [52]

John Glenn Award (for Ensuring the Hearings Got Lost in Space)

++ "President Clinton's best defense for any campaign fundraising excesses or irregularities by Democrats appears to be that the Republicans do it too. And even more." -- NBC's Jim Miklaszewski, Feb. 19 Today. [47]

Good Morning Morons Award

++ "But in fairness, what is wrong with Newt Gingrich reaching out to some other groups, extending himself? I mean, can't you catch more flies with honey? Isn't there something about that? And perhaps the rigidity of some of the conservative Republicans and their almost religious adherence to the Contract with America, didn't that ultimately backfire on them?" -- NBC's Katie Couric to Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), April 2 Today. [52]

Satan of the South Award (for Hating Jesse Helms)

++ "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. [64]

Bryant Gumbel Journalism Fellowship Award (for Liberal Advocacy)

++ "Republicans got their tax cuts for families and investors and some savings in domestic programs. But they dropped the plans they had in 1995 and 1996 for crippling Medicare and Medicaid, abolishing government departments and agencies, expanding the military, and relaxing environmental protections." -- New York Times reporter David E. Rosenbaum, May 3 "news analysis" on the budget deal. [68]

The Paul Wellstone Award (for Championing Welfare Dependency)

++ "Are some current policies in Washington, however, exacerbating the problem? For example, the new welfare reform bill is going to put about a million kids on the street without a safety net beneath them. We're also now pulling back from the benefits that we've provided in the past to legal immigrants in this country and it's putting a big burden on a lot of the states out there. You come from an immigrant experience yourself. Do you think that the welfare reform bill went too far in just those two areas?" -- Tom Brokaw to Colin Powell, April 27 Meet the Press broadcast from the volunteer summit in Philadelphia. [52]

Damn Those Conservatives Award

++ Michael Barone, Reader's Digest: "I'm not as confident as Bill Press that I know the inner workings of the mind of Paula Jones. I don't feel that I do..." Margaret Carlson, Time: "What mind?" -- CNBC's Equal Time, September 11. [55]

++ "The head of the Republican political lobbying group that calls itself, quote, "the Christian Coalition' said today he's leaving to start a political consulting business. Ralph Reed's group took a beating on some of its hard-right agenda in the last election." -- Dan Rather, April 23 CBS Evening News. [49] Politics of Meaningless Award (for the Silliest Analysis)

++ "Crime Keeps On Falling, But Prisons Keep on Filling" -- September 28 New York Times headline over Week in Review article [59]

++ "Overlaying this structure was a national politics heavily conditioned by nearly half a century of cold war. Strength and toughness trumped everything else. At one military briefing during the 1980s, Reagan was shown models of American missiles. The American power phalluses were long and white; the Soviets', shorter and black. We were still safely ahead, but only by the margin of our machismo." -- Newsweek's Jonathan Alter reviewing the 1996 political landscape, December 30, 1996/January 6, 1997 issue. [43]

Media Hero Award

++ "Justice William Brennan led the Supreme Court on a quiet revolution that expanded individual rights and press freedoms to an extent found nowhere else in the world...Brennan saw his influence wane as justices appointed by Presidents Reagan and Bush cut back the court's role as active protector of individual rights." -- USA Today reporters Tony Mauro and Mimi Hall, July 25. [50] If The Bias Fits We Won't Admit Award

++ "Scholar after scholar has disputed, in studying the actual content of the press, what you've just blithely handed out that it's this left-wing media. That's a charge from the "50s. That's not the current press. Tom Patterson ' no, the bias is a bias against politicians of all kinds, not a bias for one side or other." -- Ellen Hume, Director of the PBS Democracy Project, reacting to Bob Novak's assertion the mainstream media are "tilted to the left." July 27 CNN Reliable Sources. [60]

Which Way Is It?

"Dem tells of "contribution swap' scheme" -- USA Today headline, October 10


"DNC Ex-Aide Denies Teamster "Swap' Plan" -- Washington Post, same day [67]

To read all the quotes in one convenient place, you can order a hard copy of the eight page blue issue, or see it on our Web site. It's right at the top of For just $3.00 you can get a hard copy that you can touch, smell and read. But wait, there's a better deal: For $19 you can begin a one-year subscription (26 issues) to Notable Quotables, starting with the awards issue.

To place a subscription order by credit card, call 800-MRC-1423 between 9 and 5:30pm ET weekdays. To pay for your subscription by check, or to order a copy or copies at $3.00 each, send your check, payable to the Media Research Center, to: Media Research Center Notable Quotables offer 113 South West St. Alexandria, Va. 22314

One more reason to get a hard copy: The quotes are even more biased when you read them in their original form -- black ink on blue paper.

-- Brent Baker