Not your basic even-handed, caring, centrist moderation

Posted: Feb 12, 2004 12:00 AM

So here we are again, well into another calendar - and the past year's winning quotations from the media (mostly television) rated by the Media Research Council ( It's full of doozies.

The MRC collects quotations certifying generally the idiocy of many in the mainline media, specifically the idiot leftism - even of "personalities" who seemingly will go to their graves protesting the very suggestion they are anything but even-handed, caring, centrist moderates.

With that, here are samples from the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 2003" (Disclosure: I have judged such collections as an MRC panelist in the past, but not in 2003.)

- Hearst White House columnist Helen Thomas (quoted Jan. 19, 2003): "This is the worst president ever. (George W. Bush) is the worst president in all of American history."

- MSNBC's David Shuster (Feb. 17): "The size of the demonstrations, at least here, at least in Europe, seems to underscore ... that there are now perhaps two world superpowers. There's the United States and then there are those millions of people who took to the streets opposing U.S. policy."

- Bill Moyers on PBS (Feb. 28): "I decided to put on my flag pin tonight - first time. Until now I haven't thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see. ... I put it on to take it back. The flag's been hijacked and turned into a logo - the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. ... I put this on as a modest riposte to men with flags in their lapels who shoot missiles from the safety of Washington think tanks, or argue that sacrifice is good as long as they don't have to make it. ... I put it on to remind myself that not every patriot thinks we should do to the people of Baghdad what bin Laden did to us."

- CNN guest host Janeane Garofalo (Aug. 20): "The lie that brought us into war was that Iraq was a threat to us. ... It was an attempt at a corporate takeover. This was about oil. It wasn't about human rights. It's not about human rights. ... It is the Bush/Cheney cartel's fault. ... Team Bush is more radically corrupt than Richard Nixon ever tried to be. ... It is, in fact, a conspiracy of the 43rd Reich."

- CNN founder Ted Turner (Sept. 27): "I'd say the chances are about 50-50 that humanity will be extinct or nearly extinct within 50 years. Weapons of mass destruction, disease - I mean this global warming is scaring the living daylights out of me."

- ABC anchor Peter Jennings (quoted Sept. 9): "I don't think anybody who looks carefully at us thinks that we are a left-wing or a right-wing organization."

- Syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne (Dec. 6, 2002): "It took conservatives a lot of hard and steady work to push the media rightward. It dishonors that work to continue to presume that - except for a few liberal columnists - there is any such thing as the big liberal media. The media world now includes (1) talk radio, (2) cable television, and (3) the traditional news sources (newspapers, news magazines, and the old broadcast networks). Two of these three major institutions tilt well to the right, and the third is under constant pressure to avoid even the pale hint of liberalism. What it adds up to is a media heavily biased toward conservative politics and conservative politicians."

- Charles Pierce in the Boston Globe Magazine (Jan. 5): "If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age."

- Former New York Times executive editor Howell Raines (Feb. 20): "Our greatest accomplishment as a profession is the development since World War II of a news reporting craft that is truly nonpartisan, and nonideological. ... It is that legacy we must protect with our diligent stewardship. To do so means we must be aware of the energetic effort that is now under way to convince our readers that we are ideologues. It is an exercise in disinformation, of alarming proportions, this attempt to convince the audience of the world's most ideology-free newspapers that they're being subjected to agenda-driven news reflecting a liberal bias. I don't believe our viewers and readers will be, in the long run, misled by those who advocate biased journalism."

- ABC's Peter Jennings in Baghdad (Jan. 21): "This week we were surprised to see several hundred artists and writers walking through the streets of Baghdad to say thank you to Saddam Hussein. He had just increased their monthly financial support. Cynical, you could argue at this particular time, but the state has always supported the arts, and some of the most creative people in the Arab world have always been Iraqis. And whatever they think about Saddam Hussein in the privacy of their homes, on this occasion they were praising his defense of the homeland in the face of American threats."

- Diane Sawyer on ABC's "Good Morning, America" (March 7): "I read this morning that (Saddam Hussein) also said the love that the Iraqis have for him is so much greater than anything Americans feel for their president because he's been loved for 35 years, he says, the whole 35 years."

- CBS' Andy Rooney (Oct. 12): "We should change our attitude toward the United Nations. There has to be some power in the world superior to our own. ... We should not have attacked Iraq without the OK of the United Nations. ... Now we have to live with that mistake. We're living with it, and too many of our guys are dying with it."

- Former CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite in his syndicated column (Sept. 22): "Attorney General John Ashcroft has earned himself a remarkable distinction as the Torquemada of American law. Tomas de Torquemada ... was largely responsible for ... (the) torture and burning of heretics - Muslims in particular. Now, of course, I am not accusing the attorney general of pulling out anyone's fingernails or burning people at the stake (at least I don't know of any such cases). But one does get the sense these days that the old Spaniard's spirit is comfortably at home in Ashcroft's Department of Justice."

And, as Cronkite used to say ending his evening news broadcasts, "That's the way it is."