The MRC@25: The Worst Media Bias of the Past 25 Years
For the past few weeks, NewsBusters has been showcasing the most egregious examples of liberal media bias the Media Research Center has uncovered in our 25-year history, all leading up to tonight’s 25th Anniversary Gala and DisHonors Awards in Washington, D.C.
To close out this series, I’ve pulled together what I consider the 25 most obnoxious quotes of the MRC’s history. It’s a pretty offensive display of smug disdain for everyday conservatives, rabid hatred for conservative leaders, embarrassing sycophancy for liberals, and a little anti-American treason thrown in for good measure.
These worst-of-the-worst quotes and video appear below the jump; or you can check out the year-by-year posts here.
Damn Those Conservatives
“Largely as a result of the policies and priorities of the Reagan Administration, more people are becoming poor and staying poor in this country than at any time since World War II.”
— NBC Today co-host Bryant Gumbel, July 17, 1989.
“Good morning. The Gipper was an airhead! That’s one of the conclusions of a new biography of Ronald Reagan that’s drawing a tremendous amount of interest and fire today, Monday, September the 27th, 1999....”
— Co-host Katie Couric opening Today, September 27, 1999.
“The Republicans lie! They want to see you dead! They’d rather make money off your dead corpse! They kind of like it when that woman has cancer and they don’t have anything for her.”
— Ed Schultz, host of MSNBC’s The Ed Show, September 23, 2009.
“The new Republican majority in Congress took a big step today on its legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor.”
— Dan Rather, March 16, 1995 CBS Evening News.
“I think he [Senator Jesse Helms] ought to be worried about what’s going on in the Good Lord’s mind, because if there is retributive justice, he’ll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it.”
— National Public Radio and ABC News reporter Nina Totenberg reacting to Helms’ claim that the government spends too much on AIDS research, July 8, 1995 Inside Washington.
“The torching of black churches throughout the South punctuates the ugly rhetoric of the Buchanan campaign.... In fact, all the conservative Republicans, from Newt Gingrich to Pete Wilson, who have sought political advantage by exploiting white resentment should come and stand in the charred ruins of the New Liberty Baptist Church in Tyler [Alabama]...and wonder if their coded phrases encouraged the arsonists. Over the past 18 months, while Republicans fulminated about welfare and affirmative action, more than 20 churches in Alabama and six other Southern and Border states have been torched....there is already enough evidence to indict the cynical conservatives who build their political careers, George Wallace-style, on a foundation of race-baiting. They may not start fires, but they fan the flames.”
— Time national correspondent Jack E. White, March 18, 1996 issue.
“These seem to be appeals to the extreme white wing of the Republican Party. That is to say that there continues to be among many conservatives a real resentment against blacks....I think it is part of a hateful campaign that is being very methodically run in the hope it’s going to appeal to voters who would love to see us return to the good old days of Jim Crow.”
— Former CNN correspondent Bob Franken talking about the GOP candidates on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation, January 6, 2012.
“Clarence Thomas is the best only at his ability to bootlick for Ronald Reagan and George Bush....And the thing that bothers me about his appointment — if they had put David Duke on, I wouldn’t scream as much because they would look at David Duke and reject him for what he is. If you gave Clarence Thomas a little flour on his face, you’d think you had David Duke talking.”
— Columnist Carl Rowan on Inside Washington, July 7, 1991.
“I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease....He is an absolutely reprehensible person.”
— USA Today columnist and Pacifica Radio talk show host Julianne Malveaux on Justice Clarence Thomas, November 4, 1994 PBS To the Contrary.
Scornful of Everyday Americans
“What do you think the bigger obstacle is for you in becoming president, the Clinton campaign machine or America’s inherent racism?”
— ABC’s Chris Cuomo to Barack Obama in a December 20, 2007 interview on Good Morning America.
“Some thoughts on those angry voters. Ask parents of any two-year-old and they can tell you about those temper tantrums: the stomping feet, the rolling eyes, the screaming. It’s clear that the anger controls the child and not the other way around. It’s the job of the parent to teach the child to control the anger and channel it in a positive way. Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week....Parenting and governing don’t have to be dirty words: the nation can’t be run by an angry two-year-old.”
— ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings in his daily ABC Radio commentary, November 14, 1994.
“Corporations pay public relations firms millions of dollars to contrive the kind of grass-roots response that [Jerry] Falwell or Pat Robertson can galvanize in a televised sermon. Their followers are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command.”
— Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf writing about Christian conservatives in a February 1, 1993 news story.
“There’s nothing entertaining about watching goons hurl venomous slurs at congressmen like the civil rights hero John Lewis and the openly gay Barney Frank....How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn’t recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht.”
— New York Times columnist Frank Rich talking about Tea Party protests against ObamaCare, March 28, 2010.
Contemptuous of Conservative Talk Radio
“In a nation that has entertained and appalled itself for years with hot talk on the radio and the campaign trail, the inflamed rhetoric of the ’90s is suddenly an unindicted co-conspirator in the blast.”
— Time Senior Writer Richard Lacayo writing about the explosion at the Oklahoma City federal building that killed 168 people, May 8, 1995 issue.
Drooling Over Their Media Heroes
“If we could be one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been in the White House, we’d take it right now and walk away winners...Thank you very much and tell Mrs. Clinton we respect her and we’re pulling for her.”
— Dan Rather at a May 27, 1993 CBS affiliates meeting talking via satellite to President Clinton about his new on-air partnership with Connie Chung.
“I like to say that, in some ways, Barack Obama is the first President since George Washington to be taking a step down into the Oval Office. I mean, from visionary leader of a giant movement, now he’s got an executive position that he has to perform in, in a way.”
— ABC Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran to Media Bistro’s Steve Krakauer in a February 20, 2009 “Morning Media Menu” podcast. (MP3 audio)
Bill O’Reilly: “I want to ask you flat out, do you think President Clinton’s an honest man?”
Dan Rather: “Yes, I think he’s an honest man.”
O’Reilly: “Do you, really?”
Rather: “I do.... I think at core he’s an honest person. I know that you have a different view. I know that you consider it sort of astonishing anybody would say so, but I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things.”
— Exchange on Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor, May 15, 2001.
“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.”
— Charles Pierce in a January 5, 2003 Boston Globe Magazine article. Kopechne drowned while trapped in Kennedy’s submerged car off Chappaquiddick Island in July 1969, an accident Kennedy did not report for several hours.
“Can we just enjoy Obama for a moment? Before the policy choices have to be weighed and the hard decisions have to be made, 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....’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.”
— Esquire’s Stephen Marche in a column for the magazine’s August 2011 issue: “How Can We Not Love Obama? Because Like It or Not, He Is All of Us.”
Co-anchor Chris Matthews: “I have to tell you, you know, it’s part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama’s speech. My — I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often.”
Co-anchor Keith Olbermann: “Steady.”
Matthews: “No, seriously. It’s a dramatic event. He speaks about America in a way that has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the feeling we have about our country. And that is an objective assessment.”
— Exchange during MSNBC’s coverage of the Virginia, Maryland and Washington D. C. primaries, February 12, 2008.
“I would be happy to give him [Bill Clinton] a blow job just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs.”
— Time contributor and former reporter Nina Burleigh recalling what she told the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz about her feeling toward Bill Clinton, as recounted by Burleigh in the July 20, 1998 New York Observer.
Soft on Communism
“Few tears will be shed over the demise of the East German army, but what about East Germany’s eighty symphony orchestras, bound to lose some subsidies, or the whole East German system, which covered everyone in a security blanket from day care to health care, from housing to education? Some people are beginning to express, if ever so slightly, nostalgia for that Berlin Wall.”
— CBS reporter Bob Simon on the March 16, 1990 Evening News.
“Elian [Gonzalez] might expect a nurturing life in Cuba, sheltered from the crime and social breakdown that would be part of his upbringing in Miami....The boy will nestle again in a more peaceable society that treasures its children.”
— Brook Larmer and John Leland, April 17, 2000 Newsweek.
Mustn’t Offend the Terrorists
“We all know that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist....To be frank, it adds little to call the attack on the World Trade Center a terrorist attack.”
— Steven Jukes, global head of news for Reuters News Service, in an internal memo cited by the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz in a September 24, 2001 article.
Openly Aiding America’s Enemies
“Within the United States, there is growing challenge to President Bush about the conduct of the war and also opposition to the war. So our reports about civilian casualties here....help those who oppose the war.
“Clearly, the American war planners misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces....And I personally do not understand how that happened, because I’ve been here many times and in my commentaries on television I would tell the Americans about the determination of the Iraqi forces, the determination of the government, and the willingness to fight for their country. But me, and others who felt the same way, were not listened to by the Bush administration.
“Now America is re-appraising the battlefield, delaying the war, maybe a week, and re-writing the war plan. The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance; now they are trying to write another war plan.”
— Then-NBC/MSNBC/National Geographic Explorer correspondent Peter Arnett’s comments on Iraq’s state-controlled television network, March 30, 2003 shown by C-SPAN.
For the full rundown of the 100 worst media quotes of the past 25 years, visit our “25th Anniversary” section.