For the 25th consecutive year, the Media Research Center has recognized the absolute wackiest media quotes in our annual “Best Notable Quotables of 2013,” as selected by our panel of 42 expert judges.
The first time this prize was offered, in 1989, then-CNN pundit Linda Ellerbee won for comments delivered on the June 2, 1989 edition of PrimeNews: “‘These boat people,’ says the government of Hong Kong, ‘they all want to go to America.’ Well, I swear I don’t know why, do you?...Why would any Vietnamese come to America after what America did for Vietnam?”
This year’s winners and video highlights of the “Audacity of Dopes Award for the Wackiest Analysis of the Year” after the jump.
George Will marveled in his column late last week over how “a CNN anchor wondered if an asteroid that passed by Earth on Feb. 15 was ‘an effect of, perhaps, global warming.’” That quote, however, isn’t new to you if you’ve been reading NewsBusters or attended the MRC’s 2013 “DisHonors Awards” where that was a runner-up in the “Dan Rather Memorial Award for the Stupidest Analysis.”
CNN anchor Deb Feyerick asked Saturday afternoon if an approaching asteroid, which will pass by Earth on February 15, “is an example of, perhaps, global warming?”
Moments earlier, before an ad break, she segued from the Northeast blizzard to a segment with Bill Nye “the science guy,” by pointing to global warming: “Every time we see a storm like this lately, the first question to pop into a lot of people’s minds is whether or not global warming is to blame? I’ll talk to Bill Nye, ‘the science guy,’ about devastating storms and climate change.”
During an interview of Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, CNN anchor Deborah Feyerick not only failed to ask Richards any tough questions about federal funding of the organization, but entirely misquoted the claim of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) that 90 percent of Planned Parenthood services are abortions.
Feyerick began the segment attributing to Kyl a bizarre claim that 90 percent of Planned Parenthood's funding goes to abortions. Obviously, that was red meat for Richards who dismantled the faux statement claiming that no federal funding goes to abortions.
The following is what Sen. Kyl said on the Senate floor: "Everybody goes to clinics, to hospitals, to doctors and so on. Some people go to Planned Parenthood. But you don't have to go to Planned Parenthood to get your cholesterol and your blood pressure checked. If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does."Sen. Kyl did not say that 90 percent of funding goes to abortions at Planned Parenthood, but that 90 percent of its services are abortions, another argument entirely.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick performed a cut-and-paste job on Thursday's Newsroom by partially re-running a biased report from September 2010 on the apparent rise of "Islamophobia" in the United States. Just as before, all but one of Feyerick's sound bites during her report came from those who were worried about the supposed "intensifying hostility and rise in hate speech" against Muslims.
Anchor Suzanne Malveaux introduced the correspondent's report, which ran 40 minutes into the 12 pm Eastern hour, by putting it in the context of Rep. Peter King's hearings into the radicalization of American Muslims: "King says his radicalization of Islam hearing is going to help protect America from a terrorist attack. Well, critics, they call it a witch hunt. One of the concerns is that it is going to cause more Americans to fear and hate Muslims. Our Deborah Feyerick reports Islamophobia is on the rise." A chyron echoed Malveaux's last sentence: "Islamophobia on the Rise."
CNN's Deborah Feyerick played up Imam Feisal Rauf's apparent credentials as a "moderate" Muslim during a report on Wednesday's American Morning. Feyerick omitted using sound bites from Rauf's critics, and only briefly mentioned his controversial remarks about on CBS's 60 Minutes about the 9/11 attacks and his reluctance to condemn Hamas.
The CNN correspondent's report led the 6 am Eastern hour, and was re-broadcast throughout the day on the network. Almost immediately, Feyerick stressed how Rauf is apparently a "voice of moderation" by playing three clips from three who unequivocally endorse him- the State Department's P. J. Crowley, mosque developer Sharif El-Gamal, and Professor John Esposito of Georgetown University. She continued by describing the Islamic cleric as a "Sufi Muslim, at the other end of the Islamic spectrum from the radical theology that feeds groups like al Qaeda."
On Thursday's American Morning, CNN's Deborah Feyerick continued her network's promotion of the charge that "Islamophobia" is growing in the U.S. All but one of Feyerick's sound bites during her one-sided report were from those who agree with this charge, with the sole exception being used an example of someone using "Islam...[as] a political wedge issue."
Anchor Kiran Chetry and substitute anchor Ali Velshi introduced the correspondent's report just before the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour. Chetry stated that "attempted terror attacks aimed at the U.S. have come mostly from Muslim extremists born outside of America" and then claimed that "America's Muslim community though has been quick to warn law enforcement about these potential threats." Velshi added that "the question is, why does it appear that more and more that all Muslims are being portrayed as potential terrorists or as targets of hate."
Feyerick began by citing unnamed "experts will tell you that there's a great deal of misunderstanding when it comes to what Islam is all about. Add on politicians spreading rumors that Sharia law- Islamic law- is coming to the United States simply because a group of Americans wants to build a mosque. It's time to ask, what's really going on?" She then noted that the "Islamic center and mosque to be built near Ground Zero is not the only mosque drawing fire. About a dozen others across the country are also under attack, from angry protests and suspected arson in Murfreesboro, Tennessee to Temecula, California. American mosques, in some cases, [are] being portrayed as monuments to terror or terror training centers."
CNN's Deborah Feyerick joined the media guessing game as to the motivation behind the stabbing of Muslim taxicab driver in New York City, emphasizing the possibility it may have been "connected to this big Ground Zero controversy, where we're hearing so much anti-Muslim sentiment." Feyerick raised this hypothesis during reports on Thursday's Rick's List and The Situation Room.
The correspondent's first report on the attack aired 12 minutes into the 4 pm Eastern hour of Rick's List. Anchor Rick Sanchez played a clip from victim Ahmed Sharif's press conference on Thursday before introducing Feyerick. She began by stating that when "Michael Enright, the suspect, was arrested, he had numerous journals and notebooks on him, all of them filled with writings, some of it completely illegible. That is now with authorities, all of that being vetted and looked through to see whether, in fact, there was anything indicating that he had undergone some sort of a mental or emotional change."
Feyerick did mention that Enright "ironically...was a volunteer working for a non-profit organization that promotes peace," but didn't mentioned that the organization, Intersections International, actually supports the planned mosque near Ground Zero. She continued with the speculation over the possible motivation of the attack, including the "anti-Muslim" charge:
On Wednesday's Newsroom, CNN correspondent Deborah Feyerick refreshingly asked the developer behind the planned mosque near Ground Zero many hard questions. Feyerick bluntly asked Sharif el-Gamel, "Why not have a prayer space for Buddhists or Jews or Christians...why must it be Muslim?" The correspondent even brought up how one of the landing gear of one of the planes ended up on the site of the planned mosque [audio clips available here].
Feyrick conducted her hardball interview of el-Gamel at his New York City office. The CNN correspondent almost immediately launched into her prayer space question. When the real estate developer initially replied, "There are Jewish community centers all over the country," Feyerick interrupted with a sharp retort: "But the Jews didn't take down two towers." El-Gamel continued that "there are YMCA's all over the country," but she gave a similar reply: "But the Christians didn't take down two towers."
The journalist followed up with the issue of the planned mosque's proximity to the Ground Zero and mentioned the plane wreckage that ended up on the site: "For those who are so- still sensitive and so raw to this, their question- their overriding question is, why here? Why so close? It's two blocks, but it was close enough that landing gear ended up on the roof. Why?"
Continuing a well-established pattern, the broadcast network evening newscasts all failed to point out the party affiliation of the major New Jersey office-holders amongst the 44 people the FBI arrested Thursday for corruption. As the AP pointed out, all but one are Democrats: “Among the 44 people arrested were the mayors of Hoboken, Ridgefield and Secaucus, Jersey City's deputy mayor, and two state assemblymen. A member of the governor's cabinet resigned after agents searched his home, though he was not arrested. All but one of the office holders are Democrats.”
Nonetheless, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Deborah Feyerick saw a bi-partisan scandal. In the 5 PM EDT hour of The Situation Room, though five of the six elected officials (including all three mayors and the deputy mayor) are Democrats, Blitzer announced: “Dozens of public figures, including mayors, are caught in a stunning corruption sweep. They belong to both major parties.” From Newark, Feyerick reported “nearly 30 politicians and public officials, Democrats and Republicans, were rounded up in what prosecutors called the largest sweep of its kind.”
On CBS, reporter Kelly Wallace noted: “This is all part of a ten-year public corruption investigation that has already yielded two other high-profile indictments. Officials say some politicians don't seem to be getting the message.” Neither have the media about reporting party affiliation as both of those earlier “high-profile indictments” were of Democrats: Former state Senator Wayne Bryant and Assemblyman Joseph Vas.
Friday's "American Morning" featured a segment dedicated to fact checking Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's speech to the Republican National Convention. In introducing the reporter who did the fact checking, co-host Kiran Chetry claimed, "CNN's Deborah Feyerick is here to fact check Palin's speech and I'm sure whenever politics is involved we have to fact check these."
Apparently, though, "American Morning" only feels the need to fact check speeches given by Republican candidates because the morning show did not provide the same fact checking analysis of the Democratic National Convention speeches given by Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden or Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. They did, however, fact check former president Bill Clinton's speech to the Democratic National Convention and argued that some of his more conservative policies helped to usher in the "mortgage crisis."
A report on Tuesday’s "The Situation Room," which highlighted the anti-Giuliani campaign of some family members of firefighters killed on 9/11, also tried to throw some retrospective doubt on the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" who opposed John Kerry in 2004. CNN correspondent Deborah Feyerick proposed the following question about the campaign: "is this another 'Swift Boat' situation, in which unsubstantiated attacks against John Kerry's service in Vietnam, scuttled his presidential candidacy. These families say no."
In addition to this question, CNN played two sound bites, one from Sally Reganhard, a prominent member of this campaign, and the other from a Baruch College professor, which reenforced the "unsubstantiated" label used by CNN. Reganhard indirectly accused the "Swift Boat" veterans of using lies. "The difference between the 'Swift Boating' and this is that everything that we are saying is the truth." Also, a chyron during the report proclaimed that "9/11 Families Challenge Giuliani: Efforts Compared to ‘Swiftboating.’"
CNN’s "The Situation Room," a program not known for featuring state legislators, did a live interview on Thursday of "little-known" Virginia state senator, Republican Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis, whose liberal stance on gun control earned her the endorsement of Michael Bloomberg. The New York City mayor appeared with Devolites-Davis during the interview. As CNN correspondent Deborah Feyerick put it during a report preceding the interview, "Today, the newly turned Independent threw his personal support behind friend and fellow gun critic Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis, a Virginia state senator trying hard to get re-elected. His endorsement of a little-known legislator is rare for a man used to playing on a larger stage."
Host Wolf Blitzer introduced Feyerick’s report by highlighting Bloomberg’s apparent influence and his shared ideology with Davis. "...[T]he biggest city mayor is lending his muscle to a lawmaker in another state. Their common cause -- gun control."