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MRC Annual Awards for the Worst Reporting By: Media Research Center
MediaResearch.org | Friday, December 27, 2002

1) The winning quotes in the MRC's “Best Notable Quotables of 2002: The Fifteenth Annual Awards for the Year’s Worst Reporting.”

2) A list of the 52 judges who evaluated the quotes in 17 award categories.


MRC Annual Awards for the Worst Reporting

The winning quotes in the MRC's “Best Notable Quotables of 2002: The Fifteenth Annual Awards for the Year’s Worst Reporting.”

To determine this year’s winners, a panel of 52 radio talk show hosts, magazine editors, columnists, editorial writers and media observers each selected their choices for the first, second and third best quote from a slate of six to nine quotes in each category. Each received a paper ballot in late November and returned it within two weeks. See item #2 below for the list of judges.

First place selections were awarded three points, second place choices two points, with one point for the third place selections. Point totals are listed in the brackets at the end of the attribution for each quote. Each judge was also asked to choose a “Quote of the Year” denoting the most outrageous quote of 2002. 

The MRC’s Kristina Sewell and Amanda Monson distributed and counted the ballots. Brent Baker and Rich Noyes assembled this issue and Mez Djouadi posted the complete issue. 

To see the full results, with RealPlayer clips of many of the television quotes, CLICK HERE.  

For an Adobe Acrobat PDF that matches the eight-page hard copy version, CLICK HERE

Now, the winning quotes in 17 award categories:

Media Hero Award

“For Castro, freedom starts with education. And if literacy alone were the yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the freest nations on Earth. The literacy rate is 96 percent.” 
-- Barbara Walters narrating her interview with Fidel Castro on ABC’s 20/20, October 11. [73 points]

General Phil “Cheap Shot” Donahue Award 
(for Swipes at the War on Terrorism)

“This is interesting news that we get now, and it may put the President under a lot of heat today as the public learns that he knew, through his daily CIA intelligence briefings, that bin Laden had potential terror attack plans under way....It also calls into question what happened when Andy Card, Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff, that morning went and whispered in the President’s ear, as the President was talking to a group of school students in Florida [on Sept. 11, 2001]. Was the President really surprised?”
-- Charles Gibson’s introduction and question to White House correspondent Terry Moran on ABC’s Good Morning America, May 16. [79 points]

Fourth Reich Award 
(for Portraying John Ashcroft as a Fascist)

“One of the interesting things about this German story that’s coming out is they had like 90 pages of particulars of this cell and it makes you think -- they were leaving trails and clues all over the place -- if we’d really been watching and paying attention we could have headed off 9/11. But the German prosecutorial system was pretty laid back and didn’t want to be John Ashcroft, you know, they didn’t want to be the SS, they had that worry there, no Gestapos. And so it was a great place for terrorists to operate.”
-- Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas on the August 31 Inside Washington, referring to German surveillance of an al Qaeda group before 9/11. [88 points]

Ashamed of the Red, White & Blue Award

Phil Donahue: “Let me tell you what is impressive. You’re not wearing a flag. Well, I don’t want to damn you with my praise, but I say hip-hip-hooray for that, and I think you gave the right answer when you spoke at Northwestern University....”
Tom Brokaw: “Right. I said, you know, I wear a flag in my heart, but I think if you wear a flag, it’s a suggestion somehow that you’re endorsing what the administration is doing at the time. And I don’t think journalists ought to be wearing flags.”
Donahue: “And I say hear, hear, hear.”
-- Exchange on MSNBC’s Donahue, July 25. [89 points]

Give Appeasement a Chance Award

“The President disclosed that he has been reading Supreme Command, a new book by Eliot A. Cohen, a neoconservative hardliner on Iraq....
“In his reading choice, Bush seems to be following the advice of Bill Kristol, the arch-neoconservative who has been using his Weekly Standard magazine to chide Bush for being too soft on Saddam Hussein....Kristol, suspected of playing puppeteer to a number of hawkish officials in the Bush Pentagon and National Security Council, appears to have added the marionette-in-chief to his act.” 
-- Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank in his “White House Notebook” column, August 20. [84 points]

Begala & Carville War Room Award for Bush Bashing

Rolling Stone’s Will Dana: “Some people on the Left have said that the war on terrorism is actually about making sure the Middle East keeps pumping oil on our terms. In your book, you refer to 'Mr. Bush and his oil-industry paymasters.’ What do you mean?”
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman: “I think these guys are bought and paid by Big Oil in America, and they are going to do nothing that will in any way go against the demands and interests of the big oil companies. I mean, let’s face it. ExxonMobil -- I think this is a real group of bad guys, considering that they have funded all the anti-global-warming propaganda out there in the world. And Bush is just not going to go against guys like that. They are bad, bad guys -- because of what they are doing in fighting the science of global warming.”
-- Interview published in the October 17 Rolling Stone. [68 points]

Media Millionaires for Smaller Paychecks Award 
(for Demanding the Tax Cut Be Repealed)

“It is scandalous to think we are indulging ourselves at the expense of the elderly....How can we look at ourselves in the mirror if we keep shoving tax cuts into our pockets while letting poor, elderly people go without doctors and medicine?”
-- U.S. News & World Report Editor-at-Large David Gergen, who is often used to balance liberal pundits because he worked in the Nixon and Reagan White Houses, in a back-page editorial for the April 1 issue. [71 points]

Blame America First Award

“I think very definitely that foreign policy could have caused what has happened [last September 11th]....It certainly should be apparent now -- it should be, for goodness sakes understood now, but it is not -- that the problem is this great division between the rich and the poor in the world. We represent the rich....Most of these other nations of Africa, Asia and South America and Central America are very, very poor....This is a revolution in effect around the world. A revolution is in place today. We are suffering from a revolution of the poor and have-nots against the rich and haves and that’s us.”
-- Former CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite on CNN’s Larry King Live, September 9. [77 points]

Bill Moyers (Subsidized) Sanctimony Award

“Last year, a year ago this month, the right-wingers at the Heritage Foundation in Washington teamed up with deep pocket bankers, some of whom support the Heritage Foundation, to stop the United States from cracking down on terrorist money havens. I’m not making this up, it’s all on the record....The President of the powerful Heritage Foundation spent an hour with Treasury Secretary O’Neill, Texas bankers pulled their strings at the White House, and, Presto!, the Bush administration pulled out of the global campaign to crack down on dirty money. How about that for patriotism? Better terrorists get their dirty money than tax cheaters be prevented from evading national law. And this from people who wrap themselves in the flag and sing ‘America the Beautiful’ with tears in their eyes. Bitter? Yes.”
-- Bill Moyers in a Jan. 4 speech at the LBJ library in Austin, Texas, quoted by the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes in a Feb. 25 cover story on Moyers, “PBS’s Televangelist: Bill Moyers Preaches On...And On.” [62 points]

Carve Clinton into Mount Rushmore Award

Joy Behar: “I want to ask the audience: Clap if you would have your daughter be an intern for Bill Clinton.”
Barbara Walters: “I think that’s so unfair. That’s so unfair.”
Behar: “Why?”
Walters: “Because the man was the President. He does need people to work in that office and come on, I mean, let it go already.”
-- Exchange on ABC’s The View on Sept. 13. [72 points]

Barbra Streisand Political IQ Award for Celebrity Pontificating

“I despise him [President George W. Bush]. I despise his administration and everything they stand for....To my mind the election was stolen by George Bush and we have been suffering ever since under this man’s leadership....And I think this latest thing with Iraq is absolute madness and I’m stunned that there is not opposition on a much more global scale to what he’s talking about....There has to be a movement now to really oppose what he is proposing because it’s unconstitutional, it’s immoral and basically illegal....It is an embarrassing time to be an American. It really is. It’s humiliating.” 
-- Actress Jessica Lange at a September 25 press conference at an international film festival in San Sebastian, Spain where she was given a lifetime achievement award. Her remarks were shown in the U.S. on the syndicated show Inside Edition on October 4. [79 points]

Mount St. Helen Award for Helen Thomas Eruptions

“I censored myself for 50 years....Now I wake up and ask myself, 'Who do I hate today?’...I have never covered a President who actually wanted to go to war. Bush’s policy of pre-emptive war is immoral -- such a policy would legitimize Pearl Harbor. It’s as if they learned none of the lessons from Vietnam....Where is the outrage?” 
-- Helen Thomas, Hearst Newspapers White House columnist and former UPI reporter, speaking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Nov. 4 and quoted on MIT’s Web site two days later. [76 points]

Good Morning Morons Award

“Iraqi citizens are preparing to go to the polls to decide whether Hussein stays in office.”
-- Preview of an October 14 segment on CNN’s American Morning with Paula Zahn posted on CNN’s Web site. [83 points]

Damn Those Conservatives Award

“The [President’s Council on Bioethics] will be navigating a scientific and ethical landscape significantly more complex than the one that existed...last summer. In November, researchers announced that they had made the first human embryo clones, giving immediacy to warnings by religious conservatives and others that science is no longer serving the nation’s moral will. At the same time, the United States was fighting a war to free a faraway nation from the grip of religious conservatives who were denounced for imposing their moral code on others.”
-- Washington Post reporter Rick Weiss in a January 17 “Federal Page” article. [69 points]

Politics of Meaninglessness Award for the Silliest Analysis

“Seven years ago, when the last referendum took place, Saddam Hussein won 99.96 percent of the vote. Of course, it is impossible to say whether that’s a true measure of the Iraqi people’s feelings.”
-- ABC’s David Wright, World News Tonight, Oct. 15. [50 points]

See No Liberal Media Bias Award 

“If I were biased, I don’t believe I would have gotten the job.”
-- George Stephanopoulos to Newsday’s Verne Gay as quoted in a June 19 story after he was named host of ABC’s This Week. [64 points]

Quote of the Year 

“The entire federal government -- the Congress, the executive, the courts -- is united behind a right-wing agenda for which George W. Bush believes he now has a mandate. That agenda includes the power of the state to force pregnant women to surrender control over their own lives. It includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich. It includes giving corporations a free hand to eviscerate the environment and control the regulatory agencies meant to hold them accountable. And it includes secrecy on a scale you cannot imagine. 
“Above all, it means judges with a political agenda appointed for life. If you like the Supreme Court that put George W. Bush in the White House, you will swoon over what’s coming. And if you like God in government, get ready for the Rapture....
“So it’s a heady time in Washington, a heady time for piety, profits and military power, all joined at the hip by ideology and money. Don’t forget the money....Republicans out-raised Democrats by $184 million and they came up with the big prize: monopoly control of the American government and the power of the state to turn their radical ideology into the law of the land. Quite a bargain at any price.”
-- Bill Moyers’ commentary at the end of his PBS show Now on November 8, the Friday after Republicans won control of the Senate in midterm elections.

END Rundown of winning quotes

On Friday: The first runners-up.


Judge List

     In recognition of their time and effort, for the second time a listing of the names and affiliations of the judges. In alphabetical order, the 2002 award judges for the “Best Notable Quotables of 2002: The Fifteenth Annual Awards for the Year’s Worst Reporting.”

Lee Anderson, Editorial Page Editor, Chattanooga Free Press

Chuck Asay, editorial cartoonist, The Gazette in Colorado Springs

Brent Baker, MRC VP; Editor of CyberAlert and Notable Quotables

Mark Belling, talk show host, WISN in Milwaukee

Neal Boortz, nationally syndicated radio talk show host

L. Brent Bozell III, President of the Media Research Center

David Brudnoy, radio talk show host, WBZ in Boston; journalism
professor at Boston University 

Priscilla Buckley, Contributing Editor of National Review

Mona Charen, columnist with Creators Syndicate

William R. Cotterell, political reporter, Tallahassee Democrat

Ann Coulter, author, Slander: Liberal Lies About the American

Mark Davis, talk show host, WBAP in Dallas-Ft. Worth & ABC Radio;
columnist, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

Midge Decter, New York City-based author

Jim Eason, retired radio talk show host

Don Feder, commentator, DonFeder.com & Don Feder Associates

Eric Fettmann, columnist & Associate Editorial Page Editor, New
York Post

Ryan Frazier, editorial page writer, Richmond Times-Dispatch

David Gold, talk show host, KSFO in San Francisco

Tim Graham, White House correspondent, World magazine

Stephen Hayes, staff writer for The Weekly Standard

Kirk Healy, Executive Producer, WDBO Radio in Orlando

Quin Hillyer, editorial writer for the Mobile Register

Jeff Jacoby, columnist for the Boston Globe

Marie Kaigler, former radio talk show host for WJR in Detroit

Cliff Kincaid, Editor of the AIM Report

Mark Larson, talk show host, KRLA (Los Angeles) and KCBQ (San

Jason Lewis, talk show host, KSTP in Minneapolis/St. Paul

Kathryn Jean Lopez, Editor of National Review Online

Tony Macrini, talk show host, WNIS in Norfolk, Virginia

Michelle Malkin, syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor

Bernadette Malone, columnist, The Union Leader (Manchester, NH)
and editor at Regnery Publishing

Patrick B. McGuigan, Capital Editor of Tulsa Today

Joe McQuaid, Publisher, The Union Leader (Manchester, NH)

Wes Minter, afternoon talk show host, KRMG/Cox Radio in Tulsa

Jane Norris, talk show host, WMAL in Washington, DC

Robert D. Novak, CNN commentator; Chicago Sun-Times columnist

Rich Noyes, Director of Media Analysis for the Media Research

Kate O'Beirne, Washington Editor of National Review

Marvin Olasky, Editor-in-Chief of World magazine and professor of
journalism at the University of Texas-Austin

Janet Parshall, nationally syndicated radio talk show host

Henry Payne, editorial cartoonist, The Detroit News

Wladyslaw Pleszczynski, Editor of TheAmericanProwler.org; 
Executive Editor of The American Spectator

Michael Reagan, nationally syndicated radio talk show host

Mike Rosen, talk show host, KOA in Denver; columnist, Denver Rocky
Mountain News 

William A. Rusher, Distinguished Fellow, Claremont Institute

Ted J. Smith III, Professor of journalism, Virginia Commonwealth

Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor

Bruce Tinsley, Mallard Fillmore cartoonist

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., Editor-in-Chief of The American Spectator

Dick Williams, columnist; host of Atlanta’s Georgia Gang

Walter Williams, Professor of economics, George Mason University

Thomas Winter, Editor-in-Chief of Human Events 

The Media Research Center investigates media bias at: www.mrc.org.

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