Back in 2008 and 2009, the Media Research Center’s year-end awards for the Best Notable Quotables were dominated by journalists fawning over the greatness of Barack Obama. In 2008, our winner for “Quote of the Year” was Chris Matthews for his on-air exclamation that upon hearing Obama give a speech, “I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often.”
Then in 2009, one of our winners was ABC’s Bill Weir, who embarrassingly enthused over Obama‘s inauguration: “Never have so many people shivered so long with such joy. From above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity.”
That was then; this is now. With Obama’s approval rating stuck in the low- to mid-40s for most of the year, the liberal media spent much of their time slashing at the President’s opponents: Republicans, conservatives, the Tea Party and the 2012 candidates. The thrills of 2008 are long gone, along with vague promises of “hope” and “change,” replaced by a scorched-earth nastiness that hints at the brutal election year to come.
A rundown of our 2011 category winners illustrates the point. For our “Grim Reaper Award,” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman “won” for his ridiculous hyperbole about Paul Ryan‘s proposal to change the way Medicare is financed. “[Ryan’s] voucher would kill people, no question,” Krugman insisted in a CNN profile of Ryan that aired September 25. “Tens of millions of older Americans would not be able to afford essential health care....That counts as cruelty to me.”
In the same vein, outgoing ABC This Week host Christiane Amanpour won our “Tying Granny to the Train Tracks Award” for slamming Ryan’s budget as “reverse Robin Hoodism, if you like — take from the poor, give back to the rich again.” Runner-up Jonathan Alter (who spent most of his career at Newsweek magazine) shamelessly castigated the GOP as attempting granny-cide: “After many years where Democrats kind of cried wolf about Republicans wanting to throw granny into the snow, this time that’s what they have just voted to do.”
In our “Hopeless Dopes Award,” NBC anchor Brian Williams was recognized for the brazen liberal agenda he brought with him to a September 7 GOP candidates debate. At one point, Williams haughtily suggested to Rick Santorum that he and other Republicans were failing to live up to Christian principles: “The Catholic faith has, as a part of it, caring for the poor. One in seven people in this country now qualifies as poor. Where do the poor come in, where do they place in this party, on this stage, in a Santorum administration?”
Journalists had their knives out for the Tea Party in 2011. Winning our “Poison Tea Pot Award,” New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd on August 3 slammed House Tea Party members as “budget slashers” who acted “like cannibals, eating their own party and leaders alive. They were like vampires, draining the country’s reputation, credit rating and compassion. They were like zombies, relentlessly and mindlessly coming back again and again to assault their unnerved victims....”
Dowd’s Times colleague, the aforementioned Paul Krugman, took our “Tea Party Terrorists Award” for smarmily linking the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords to the Tea Party in a January 8 blog written less than two hours after news of the shooting broke. Ignorant of the shooter‘s identity or motive, Krugman nonetheless cynically impugned: “Violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.”
The mindlessly partisan Krugman also won the “America Is the Real Evil Empire Award” and “Quote of the Year” for using the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks to slam Republicans and “neo-cons” for the war in Iraq: “The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.”
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews went from boasting about his Obama-induced thrills to slashing at conservatives. His most outrageous quotes were presented in the “MSNBC = Mean-Spirited, Nasty, Belligerent Chris Award,” topped by this March 2 rant against Newt Gingrich: “He looks like a car bomber. He looks like a car bomber....He’s got that crazy Mephistophelian grin of his. He looks like he loves torturing. Look at the guy! I mean this, this is not the face of a President.”
Left-wing radio host (and ex-CNN staffer) Mike Malloy took our “Damn Those Conservatives Award” for bemoaning back on May 2 how the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 killed Osama bin Laden instead of George W. Bush. “Bush was responsible for a lot more death, innocent death, than bin Laden. Wasn’t he, or am I wrong here?” Malloy sneered. (Audio)
Among the runners-up in that category: Jon Meacham, who used to set the editorial direction of Newsweek magazine. Now on taxpayer-subsidized PBS, Meacham used Ronald Reagan’s centennial in February as an opportunity to slam the Gipper: “Basically, we have a President who treated the poor poorly, did not tend to the sick, broke laws, committed nearly impeachable offenses....Why should we be lionizing him in the broad public domain?”
2011 introduced a new category, the “Ku Klux Con Job Award for Smearing Conservatives With Phony Racism Charges.” Among the strong contenders: MSNBC daytime anchor (and ex-CNN anchor) Thomas Roberts, for declaring his opinion that the 2012 GOP candidates “would rather take legislation to build a time machine and go back in time to where we had, you know, no women voting, slavery was cool.”
But the noxious Roberts lost out to MSNBC primetime host Lawrence O’Donnell, whose beyond-lame attempt to play the race card consisted of playing a clip from this generic Republican ad in February: “Stop Obama and his union bosses today. The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.”
O’Donnell proposed to his guest, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, that that was racist: “The Republican Party is saying that the President of the United States has bosses, that the union bosses this President around, the unions boss him around. Does that sound to you like they are trying to consciously or subconsciously deliver the racist message that, of course, of course a black man can’t be the real boss?” Not even Granholm bought O’Donnell’s ludicrous premise: “Wow, I hadn’t thought about the racial overtones....”
Even the celebrity quotes we compiled in our “Barbra Streisand Political IQ Award for Celebrity Vapidity” displayed the same anti-conservative bitterness as evidenced by the news media quotes. Taking the top slot this year was Sean Penn, for slandering the Tea Party during an October 14 appearance on CNN as the “Get the N-word out of the White House party.” Penn: “At the end of the day, there’s a big bubble coming out of their heads saying, you know, ‘Can we just lynch him?’”
But the year wasn’t all liberal bile, as Esquire magazine’s Steven Marche managed to pen a 2008-style tribute to Obama that might have made even Chris Matthews blush: “Can we just enjoy Obama for a moment?” Marche wrote in the August 2011 issue. “Can we just take a month or two to contemplate him the way we might contemplate a painting by Vermeer or a guitar lick by the early-seventies Rolling Stones or a Peyton Manning pass or any other astounding, ecstatic human achievement? Because twenty years from now, we’re going to look back on this time as a glorious idyll in American politics, with a confident, intelligent, fascinating president riding the surge of his prodigious talents from triumph to triumph,” Marche exulted.
His “Obamagasm” continued: “‘I am large, I contain multitudes,’ Walt Whitman wrote, and Obama lives that lyrical prophecy....Barack Obama is developing into what Hegel called a ‘world-historical soul,’ an embodiment of the spirit of the times. He is what we hope we can be.”
As awful as the media were this year, 2011 may turn out to be merely a preview of coming attractions, with yet worse bias to come in 2012.