Notable Quotables - 12/02/1996


Gumbels Morning Devotions

Bryant Gumbel: "You write that you prayed more during your four years in office than basically at any time in your life and yet I think its fair to say, and I hope this doesnt sound harsh, I think its fair to say, you are consistently viewed as one of the more ineffective Presidents of modern times."
Jimmy Carter: "Well, I think thats harsh and unfair, but you have a right to your opinion."
Gumbel: "Its not mine. Its what I perceive as a general view. What do you think, if anything, that says about the power of prayer?"
- Exchange on Today about Carters new book, Living Faith, November 18.


Time Does DNC Damage Control

"In the realm of honest graft, Clinton didnt do anything Bob Dole didnt do; he and his party just did it with the seal of the White House behind them."
- Times Michael Duffy and Nancy Gibbs, November 11.

"The intricate squalor of Democratic fundraising is the news of the moment. But heres the big surprise: funny money is a bipartisan indulgence. Heres another: Bob Dole - gasp! - is in on the game. For most of his Senate career, Dole was the pro of the quid pro quo. No one else has been more effective at working the filigree of legislation, digging out just the groove to let the American governments generosity flow unimpeded to his most loyal supporters. And the GOP generally has engaged for years in imaginative fundraising, and favors trading that would make anybody blush."
- Times Richard Lacayo, next page.

"Fortunately for Clinton, Dole had already blocked campaign-finance reform and stuffed his pockets. (Ever hear of the sugar-growing Cuban immigrant contributor or the $6 million fine for a Republican with a money-laundering operation in Hong Kong?)"
- Time columnist Margaret Carlson, same issue.


Eleanor "Sybil" Clift

"Lets define what we mean by attacks on Kenneth Starr. Its fair game to point out that he is a partisan Republican, that he defends the tobacco interests...Yes! He got his job under very seamy circumstances. Thats fair game."
- Newsweeks Eleanor Clift on the November 16 McLaughlin Group.


"Watergate was a criminal conspiracy conducted out of the Oval Office. There is nothing even remotely like that alleged against this President. We ought to wait and see what Ken Starr says. Hes the only one who has credibility, in my mind, in bringing forth this investigation."
- Clift, later in the same show.


Fabulous Clinton Cabinet

"Brian Williams, I have a question. Youve been covering the Clinton White House for some time. Do you think that there is any more heroic figure, however not very visible, than Bob Rubin, who is the Treasury Secretary?"
- Tom Brokaw during NBC News election night coverage.


Gorbachev, Impeccable Overachiever

"It mystifies Westerners that Mikhail Gorbachev is loathed and ridiculed in his own country. This is the man who pulled the world several steps back from the nuclear brink and lifted a crushing fear from his countrymen, who ended bloody foreign adventures, liberated Eastern Europe and won for the Soviet Union at least provisional membership in the club of civilized nations. By the standards of the West (and by comparison with the incumbent, Boris Yeltsin), Mr. Gorbachev is a man of impeccable character."
- New York Times foreign editor Bill Keller reviewing Gorbachevs memoirs, October 20.


Its Her Ideas, Stupid

CBS reporter Rita Braver: "But even abroad, Mrs. Clinton still stirs up controversy at home. In a Time magazine interview she talked about her plans to travel the U.S., monitoring the administrations new welfare reform policies. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton best expressed her own awkward situation when she told an Australian audience that the only way for a First Lady to escape criticism is to never express opinions or ideas."
Hillary Clinton: "So its a kind of difficult position and I think the only answer is to just be who you are and do what you do and get through it and wait for the first man to hold the position and see how it turns out."
- CBS Evening News story, November 25.

Alger Hiss: Just Caught Up in Cold War Hysteria

"One of the most controversial men of the post-war years has died. Alger Hiss, at the age of 92. He was a public servant of rising prominence in the 1930s and 1940s when suddenly he was caught up in a spy scandal and he was accused of being a member of the Communist Party. In 1948 he was charged with helping pass State Department secrets to the Soviets....Despite the support of many prominent Americans, Hiss was sent to prison for almost four years. Its a case that still divides many people in this country, but at the end of his life Hiss considered vindication a declaration by a Russian General, who controlled the KGB archives, saying that Hiss had never been a spy."
- Tom Brokaw, November 15 NBC Nightly News. On November 18 Brokaw noted that "the Russian General admitted he didnt have access to all records."

"Alger Hiss was an accomplished lawyer and a diplomat until a man named Whittaker Chambers accused him of being a communist who passed state secrets to the Soviets. At congressional hearings Hiss defended himself against a young Richard Nixon. Hiss was ultimately convicted of perjury. He lost his livelihood and his marriage. He protested his innocence until the very end and last year we reported that the Russian President Boris Yeltsin said that KGB files had supported Mr. Hisss claim."
- Peter Jennings, November 15 World News Tonight. On November 19 Jennings issued a "clarification," noting that "It was actually a member of Mr. Yeltsins staff, General Dmitri Volkogonov, who made the statement. He later said that the evidence wasnt conclusive."

"Hiss was a Harvard-educated lawyer with a distinguished career in government when he was accused in 1948 of helping pass secret documents to the Soviets. The case attracted national attention and helped spur a period of blacklisting and hysteria over the communist threat."
- CNN Prime News anchor Linden Soles, November 15.

Reality Check:
"For the last forty years...Hiss proclaimed his innocence. But this year, the CIA declassified and released the so-called Venona files, translations of actual intercepts of messages sent from the Soviet Embassy in Washington back to Moscow. One, dated 30 March 1945, talks about the activities of a high level State Department official turned Soviet agent code named A-L-E-S, Ales. His travel schedule matched that of Alger Hiss. At the bottom of the cable, theres a notation by an officer at the National Security Agency saying Ales was probably, quote, Alger Hiss."
- Meet the Press host Tim Russert, November 24.

Very Questionable Sources of Information

"This is the problem with the Internet: wonderful in some ways, but more crazy conspiracy theories float around. If you get your information from talk radio and the Internet, you believe a lot of this nutty stuff."
- Newsweeks Evan Thomas on Pierre Salingers TWA 800 missile claim, November 10 Inside Washington.

"But in the end, one is left with a nagging sense that the Dole-Kemp plan doesnt add up...and with a troubling question. Having already tried supply-side tax cuts as the route to renewed economic glory only to discover the nation strapped with historically large deficits, why would we do it again?"
- Peter G. Gosselin on the Dole-Kemp campaign manifesto Trust the People, November 3 New York Times Book Review.


Fashionably Feminist Fertility

"Julie, how did you conceive?....Was it artificial insemination?"
- ABCs Deborah Roberts celebrating Julie Cypher and her lover, singer Melissa Etheridge, on their expected baby, November 1 20/20.


- L. Brent Bozell III, Publisher;
- Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham; Editors
- Geoffrey Dickens, Eugene Eliasen, Jim Forbes, Steve Kaminski, Clay Waters; Media Analysts
- Peter Reichel, Circulation Manager; Kathy Ruff, Marketing Director; Joe Alfonsi, Intern