Notable Quotables - 09/06/1999

The Rumor We Won't Let Die...

"It followed him from Texas to Ohio today, the question that will not go away everywhere George W. Bush goes. Is there illegal drug use in his past? It got its start as a rumor. It has become a rather large and nagging news story and now the question: Is his strategy of giving partial answers perhaps making it worse?"
- NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, August 19.


...Unlike Any Clinton Allegations

Imus in the Morning producer Bernard McGuirk: "Well, what's good enough for the presidential candidate is good enough for the President. And there have been rumors that the President has done drugs in the White House in the past seven years or so. How come no one is going to ask him about those rumors? 'And are they true? Did you do drugs?'"
NBC reporter David Bloom: "First of all, I think that, I mean, with all due respect, Bernard, you're saying, you're repeating those rumors completely unsubstantiated on a program like this, I think proves the point about why you don't want to go down this path. And why we as journalists, at least I count myself in that number, ought to not talk about things that we don't know whether or not they're true or at least there's some basis for believing they're true."
- Exchange on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning on August 20, the morning after Bloom's NBC story aired unsubstantiated drug rumors about George W. Bush.


Koppel Never Did a Juanita Show

"Why not accept his one-size-fits-all declaration that when I was young and irresponsible I was young and irresponsible? Perhaps, we might say, because he has never accepted youth and irresponsibility as legitimate excuses for illegal behavior. Both as campaigner and as governor of Texas, George Bush has, if anything, toughened the rhetoric and tightened the rules on youthful drug offenders. Remember now, Governor Bush has denied using drugs only since he was 28. He won't talk about what happened before then.

"So here we are in this curious twilight in which he plainly acknowledges excessive use of alcohol until he turned 40, makes no claim of privacy in the area of marital infidelity, unlike some people we know he did not cheat on his wife, but leaves the question of youthful cocaine use ambiguously addressed with this assertion: I did make mistakes years ago. That is not an explanation that Governor Bush has ever accepted from any other youthful offender."
- ABC Nightline host Ted Koppel, August 24.


Copying the Koppel Lecture

"Bush asks voters to dismiss his past sins, real or imagined, as the result of an occasionally 'irresponsible' youth, but, as Governor of Texas, two years ago he signed legislation authorizing judges to send people to jail for possessing less than a gram of cocaine (less, in other words, than a packet of Sweet 'N Low). Three years before that, he made it possible to imprison kids as young as 14. As Ted Koppel put it on Nightline, Bush 'has never accepted youth and irresponsibility as legitimate excuses for illegal behavior.' Except that is, when it comes to himself."
- U.S. News reporter Roger Simon, September 6 issue.

Conventional Liberal Obsessions

"While thousands die in Turkey, the CW obsesses over unproven rumors of G. W. Bush's long-ago taste for nose candy. Trivial unless you're in jail in Texas for the same thing."
- Newsweek's "Conventional Wisdom Watch," August 30.


Clinton Rape? Don't Go There!

Cliff May of the Republican National Committee: "We have right now a credible allegation by Juanita Broaddrick that while Attorney General, Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her and he won't answer."
MSNBC host David Gregory: "Now hold on. You know what, Cliff? I'm not going to let you go there. We are not talking about this today. We're not going to turn that into this. I want to go around the horn a little bit. Cliff, wait a minute. Cliff, I'm going to stop you. I'm hosting the program. It is not a double standard. We have a clear focus today. I'm asking the questions."
- MSNBC afternoon discussion of Bush drug story, August 19.

Bill Bennett: "This is pointing up the hypocrisy of a lot of the press. There are no allegations that he's used illegal drugs, no witness has come forward. In the case of Bill Clinton, you had the situation with Juanita Broaddrick who accused Bill Clinton of rape 21 years ago, which is more recent than these allegations of drug use by George Bush. You had five contemporaneous eyewitnesses and the press said it had scandal fatigue. That's a very serious charge, a much more serious charge, but the press decided to abandon that. Now George Bush, Republican blood is out there, so they're pursuing it...."
CNN's Judy Woodruff: "By the way, on the Juanita Broaddrick question, I think that some members of the press did pursue that, but we don't really, don't have time to get into that."
- Exchange from the August 20 Inside Politics.


Carlson's Cockeyed Caricature

"Unlike adultery, cocaine use is actually illegal, and it does get punished by jail time, and so it's a legitimate question. I mean, George W. Bush raised adultery himself, and the only people who thought that was illegal were the 13 House managers and Ken Starr."
- Time's Margaret Carlson on CNN's Inside Politics, Aug. 25.


Couric Finds the Character Issue

"Larry, what about the argument that he's being somewhat hypocritical? In 1995, he signed into law a measure increasing the punishment for anyone arrested for selling or possessing illegal drugs within 1,000 feet of a school or school bus. In '97 he signed into law a measure...into law that toughened penalties for people selling or possessing less than one gram of cocaine. What about this argument that, 'Look, heres this guy who's so tough on crime, and drugs in particular.' Is it fair? Is it the pot calling the kettle black?"

"...And character counts, right, Larry Sabato? Isn't this part of one's character? Why not be forthcoming if you're George W. Bush and let the American people make a decision about his past behavior?"
- Katie Couric to professor Larry Sabato, August 20 Today.

Where Was Steve in 1992?

"Reverend Falwell was saying only present-day action should be judged by the press. I just think that's wrong. I think that we in the press have an enormous obligation to help the voters understand the judgment and the temperament, and the morality and the character of the people who want to be President and I think there's only one way we can do that, and that is to explore the judgments that they have made in the past."
- U.S. News's Steve Roberts on CNN's Late Edition, Aug. 22.

Get This Man a Sedative

"They just shouldn't do it [ads] on the tax cut, which is one of the most irresponsible pieces of legislation to come down the pike in a long time. Especially since if there's a recession, then we would need a tax cut. You do one now, every economist of all stripes knows that it's just totally irresponsible!"
- Newsweek's Jonathan Alter on CNBC's Hardball, August 31.


Cronkite's Utterly Apolitical PBS

"But those of us who know public television know that its 94 million viewers are intelligent, thoughtful, and wise. Critical and discriminating, they are quite clear about who is carrying out a political agenda. And they know it's not public broadcasters."
- Walter Cronkite in a Wall Street Journal letter to the editor dismissing PBS critic Dr. Laurence Jarvik, August 12.


How Could Women Be Pro-Life?

"Something absolutely fascinates me, which is that you get a lot of support, donations, from women. And yet you're a man who has said that you will have a litmus test in terms of having pro-life people appointed to judicial posts, as well as your running mate if you get the nomination. Why are women supporting Gary Bauer?"
- Washington Post writer Juan Williams to Gary Bauer on Fox News Sunday, August 22.


Our Feeding Frenzy on Bush and Coke? Hey, Blame Republicans

"Well, the irony is that the Republican Party helped create the climate for this. They're the ones, as Gary Bauer said this morning on another one of the talk shows, that went nuts when Bill Clinton said he didn't inhale, asking well, what does that mean? So, in a way, the Republican Party has set a certain standard. And now George Bush is being held to it."
- CNN White House reporter Chris Black, August 22 Late Edition.


American Intruders Should Die

"After dinner, as the two men walked in the Boston Common, Punch asked what his son later characterized as 'the dumbest question I've ever heard in my life': 'If a young American soldier comes upon a young North Vietnamese soldier, which one do you want to see get shot?' Arthur answered, 'I would want to see the American get shot. It's the other guy's country; we shouldn't be there.'"
- Susan Tifft and Alex Jones recounting an early '70s chat on the Vietnam War between former New York Times publisher Arthur "Punch" Sulzberger and his son, current Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., in the July 26 New Yorker.

PBS Star Says I Was A Drug Fiend

"I have a confession to make: More than 25 years ago (actually, about 30 years ago) I used an illegal narcotic. I'm not running for President, nor any political office for that matter. And the statute of limitations has surely run out on my transgression. So it's safe to come clean. I won't make you guess about which drug it was. It was heroin. And here come the gory details. I snorted it no, I didn't inject it. I was caught up in the drug culture of the late '60s and early '70s, which I state as a reason, not an excuse. And, oh yes, prior to trying heroin I smoked a lot of different types of marijuana and hashish (yes, inhaling all the time) and took a wide variety of hallucinogens: mescaline, LSD, you name it. Well, I not only survived that stupor, I excelled at high school studies and extracurricular activities during it."
- PBS To The Contrary host Bonnie Erbe opposing Bush rumor stories in an August 24 Denver Rocky Mountain News column. 



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