ABC, CBS and NBC Evening Shows All Highlight 'Silver Foot' Insult from Richards

Matching the news judgment of the broadcast network morning shows, the network evening newscasts on Thursday all highlighted the late Ann Richards' sarcastic insult, for the conditions he was born into, of then-Vice President and GOP presidential candidate George Bush at the 1988 Democratic convention. CBS anchor Katie Couric even put it into her up front tease: “Remembering Ann Richards: One of the most colorful women in American politics.” Viewers then heard and saw her infamous line: “Poor George. He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth!” CBS reporter Morley Safer led his obituary of her with her derisive slam: “Ann Richards' leapt from obscurity took place at the 1988 Democratic convention when she lit into George Bush, the Republican presidential candidate.” ABC anchor Charles Gibson highlighted how “with her Texas twang and sharp tongue, she became an instant celebrity at the 1988 Democratic convention with a speech that poked fun at the first President Bush.” Over on NBC, Brian Williams announced before the media's favorite clip: “She was no friend to the Bush family. In fact, she is best remembered for this, the night her pistol went off at the 1988 Democratic convention when she took on the first President Bush.” Williams and Couric described her as “colorful” while Gibson praised her as “an original voice.”

As Rich Noyes noted in his NewsBusters rundown of the morning shows on Thursday, “Instead of deploring her descent into the 'politics of personal destruction' -- as they might have if the speechmaker were a conservative Republican and the target was a liberal Democrat -- the media elite swooned.”

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth took down the September 14 broadcast network evening show coverage of Ann Richards, who went on to become Governor of Texas and then lose in 1994 to the son of the man she ridiculed, who passed away in Austin:

CBS Evening News:
Katie Couric, in opening teaser: "And remembering Ann Richards: One of the most colorful women in American politics."

Ann Richards: "Poor George. He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth!"

Couric set up the subsequent full story from Morley Safer:
Couric: "They were fierce political rivals, but on the death of Ann Richards, President Bush said today, 'Texas has lost one of its great daughters.' Richards, the former governor and Democratic firebrand, died yesterday of cancer of the esophagus. She was 73. Morley Safer once profiled her for 60 Minutes and has her story."

Morley Safer: "Ann Richards' leapt from obscurity took place at the 1988 Democratic convention when she lit into George Bush, the Republican presidential candidate."

Ann Richards: "Poor George. He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth!"

Safer: "She was the mistress of the one-liner, who became a feminist icon, when, in her forties, a mother of four, she decided to run for local office..."


NBC Nightly News:
Brian Williams: "Tonight, Texans are mourning a former governor, and one of the most colorful figures in modern American politics tonight has left scene. Ann Richards was born near Waco, Texas. As a girl, she listened to FDR on the radio and was told by her own father that she could be anything she wanted to be. She became a school teacher and later went into politics, she said, to help women and minorities. She was indeed elected governor of Texas. She was a pistol. She was no friend to the Bush family. In fact, she is best remembered for this, the night her pistol went off at the 1988 Democratic convention when she took on the first President Bush."

Ann Richards, at 1988 Democratic convention: "Poor George. He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth!"


ABC's World News with Charles Gibson:
Charles Gibson: "And we want to note tonight the passing of an original voice in American politics, former Texas Governor Ann Richards. With her Texas twang and sharp tongue, she became an instant celebrity at the 1988 Democratic convention with a speech that poked fun at the first President Bush, and also celebrated women."

Ann Richards: "Poor George. He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth! [edit jump] But if you give us a chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did, she just did it backwards and in high heels."

Gibson: "Ann Richards was an original voice, and she was 73."

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center