Lauer Remains in Past, Dubs Reagan's 1980s the "Decade of Greed" --12/31/2003
2. More Runners-Up Quotes in MRC's Awards for the Worst Reporting
3. New York Post and Denver Paper Run Columns on "Best of NQ"
You'd think that after the phony bubble of the late 1990s, built on exaggerated earnings and revenue claims by some greedy corporate executives, that referring to the Reagan era of the 1980s as "the Decade of Greed" would be passe. But it's a slap at the decade some in the media can't shake. Case in point: On Tuesday's Today, Matt Lauer marked the 20th anniversary of the film The Big Chill -- yes, NBC considered this milestone newsworthy -- by recalling how it was released in 1983, a period he described as "a time of Reaganomics, burgeoning yuppies, and the Decade of Greed."
MRC analyst Amanda Monson caught the assessment from NBC's Lauer on the December 30 Today.
Lauer reminded viewers of the film's plot and context: "They were college classmates from the '60s, mourning the loss of a friend and their idealism. [movie clip] It was 1983, a time of Reaganomics, burgeoning yuppies, and the Decade of Greed. This group of former radicals that once spent weekends protesting societal wrongs, spent this weekend questioning their life choices. JoBeth Williams played Karen."
Given Today's decision to showcase such an anniversary, it seems to be a passion felt too by NBC News producers.
In addition to Williams, the movie co-starred Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline and Meg Tilly. For the Internet Movie Database's page on The Big Chill: us.imdb.com
Monday's CyberAlert featured the winners and Tuesday's the first runners-up. So today, the second and third runners-up quotes in the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 2003: The Sixteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting."
For the winners, see item #4 in the December 29 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
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 2003.
Now, the second and third runners-up (not all categories have a third runner-up) in 17 award categories:
Damn Those Conservatives Award [second and third runners-up]:
Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan: "I think the media and the Democratic Party spent the 1990s saying, 'None of this matters. You can do anything to women. We'll beat 'em up, we'll put private eyes on them....'"
National Public Radio correspondent Nina Totenberg: "Now they've got this guy [General Jerry Boykin], who's head of the intelligence section in the Defense Department, who's being quoted as telling various groups, while he's in uniform, that this [war] is a Christian crusade against Muslims....I mean, this is terrible, this is seriously bad stuff....I hope he's not long for this world."
Baghdad Bob Award for Parroting Enemy Propaganda [second runner-up]:
"Iraqis are growing increasingly enraged by the mounting damage to civilian sites -- including this maternity hospital, smashed up by a bomb that exploded nearby. Several people were killed, even though patients had been evacuated at the start of the war. Walking through the streets of Baghdad today, it's clear that this war is not popular. I asked this man if he thinks the war is about liberating him from Saddam's brutal regime. 'Liberation?' he asked me. 'Who asked for America to liberate us?'"
Dominique de Villepin Snottiness Award for Whining About the War [second and third runners-up]:
Lesley Stahl: "The Powell Doctrine in military terms is that you throw a massive force, if you're going to go to war, make it huge. There are now criticisms, we're beginning to hear, that this force isn't massive enough."
"We should change our attitude toward the United Nations. There has to be some power in the world superior to our own....We should not have attacked Iraq without the okay of the United Nations....Now we have to live with that mistake. We're living with it, and too many of our guys are dying with it."
The Invisible Liberal Award for Camouflaging Ideology [second and third runners-up]:
"Ever since the George McGovern disaster of 1972, the party has routinely chosen technocratic moderates for standard-bearers."
Judy Woodruff: "The rap on Dean is that the Burlington Birkenstock crowd, people who put Dean signs in bars called the Red Square, can't take their man to the White House, that he's just too far left."
Media Suck-Up Award [second and third runners-up]:
HBO's Bob Costas: "How, from where you sit, have you maintained your dignity, and how can you be so controlled under circumstances that would be trying for the best of us?...If you became President, what kind of First Gentleman would Bill Clinton be?...What are your best and worst qualities as a politician?"
John Cochran: "Remember the $8 million advance Hillary Clinton's publisher gave her? Turns out it was a bargain. She has earned every penny -- and then some. Her book is a best-seller in eight countries....She has not only signed 20,000 copies of her book, she has also put her name on more legislation than any other Senator in this Congress, sponsoring or co-sponsoring 396 bills, ranging from resolutions on Girl Scouts Week to funds for rebuilding Iraq and-"
Pompous Peter Award for Jennings' Arrogant Condescension [second and third runners-up]:
"By the way, 'No blood for oil,' from many people who are opposed to the war is, is not complicated at all. They believe the United States wishes to occupy Iraq in the long term to have the oil. Just so we understand why they wear those little buttons, 'No blood for oil.'"
"Saddam Hussein may have been, or may be, a vain man, but he has allowed himself to be sculpted heavy and thin, overweight and in shape, in every imaginable costume -- both national, in historic terms, in Iraqi historic terms -- in contemporary, in every imaginable uniform, on every noble horse. The sculpting of Saddam Hussein, which has been a growth industry for 20 years, may well be a dying art."
Romanticizing the Rabble Award for Glorifying Protesters [second runner-up]:
"It was a party a hundred thousand strong, flowing haltingly below the slated mansard roofs of Paris's stately avenues, accompanied by balloons and banners and vendors selling foot-long hot dogs and fries. If there is one thing the French know how to do, it is how to conduct a demonstration. "Ladies in stiletto heels and fur-fringed jackets, fathers pushing strollers trailing McDonald's balloons, drably dressed union members, students in face paint and carnival clothes - all turned out to make some noise. Yet despite the gay atmosphere beneath a brilliant blue sky, the message was stark, even dark. "'The United States is a barbarian country,' shouted some. 'Bush, let's murder,' shouted others. One group chanted, 'Bush, Blair, Sharon, Putin, Chirac: Justice in Palestine, don't touch Iraq.'"
Barbra Streisand Political IQ Award for Celebrity Vapidity [second and third runners-up]:
"Being a man, I've got to say that we've got this guy in the White House who thinks he is a man, you know, who projects himself as a man because he has a certain masculinity, and he's a good old boy, and he used to drink, and he knows how to shoot a gun and how to drive a pickup truck, et cetera, like that. That's not the definition of a man, God dammit!"
Craig Kilborn: "Use the words 'compassionate' and 'conservative' in the same sentence while being neither ironic nor scornful."
Begala & Carville Prize for Demonizing George W. Bush [second and third runners-up]:
"Is it fair to say that the White House...at the end of the day thought that to make progress, the benefit for these 11.9 million children should go in order to, in part, save the dividend benefit for investors?...I just want to make sure that you are saying that the White House agreed to make the choice to leave these children behind."
"Bush promised a foreign policy of humility and a domestic policy of compassion. He has given us a foreign policy of arrogance and a domestic policy that is cynical, myopic and cruel."
Fruitless Plains of Poverty Award [second and third runners-up]:
"Today in San Diego, the supercarrier USS Abraham Lincoln finally docked after nearly 10 months at sea. We'll have more on the reunion with eager loved ones in just a moment, but these soldiers, of course, are coming home to a sober reality as well: an economy that, if anything, is struggling more than it was when they set sail. The government said today the unemployment rate is up to six percent. More than half a million jobs were lost in the last three months."
"Tonight, we're going to show you a new true face of homelessness in America. Today's homeless are families, and the families you will meet have done everything right and yet there's no place for them. Still, they struggle to find a home....There are more families homeless in New York City now than at any in the last 20 years....in numbers, it's estimated, not seen since the Great Depression."
Bill Moyers Sanctimony Award [second runner-up]:
"It's the richest Americans -- the top one percent -- who get the lion's share of the tax cuts, people like Secretary of the Treasury John Snow, [and] Vice President Dick Cheney....Eleven million children in families with incomes roughly between $10,000 and $26,000 a year will not be getting the check that was supposed to be in the mail this summer. Eleven million children punished for being poor, even as the rich are rewarded for being rich."
Media Millionaires for Higher Taxes Award [second, third and fourth runners-up]:
"Something got screwed up in terms of your priorities if you think it's more important to get rid of the dividend tax than it is to take care of 11 million kids."
"It seems to me that instead of cutting taxes, we ought to be increasing the taxes to pay off the deficit, rather than let that thing build up to the point where our grandchildren's grandchildren are going to be paying for our period of time and our years at the helm."
"He [Treasury Secretary-designate John Snow] is said to be in favor of further tax cuts but against deficits. Doesn't one lead to the other?"
Politics of Meaninglessness Award for the Silliest Analysis [second and third runners-up]:
"Once upon a time, a scientist named Galileo said the Earth was round, and the political leaders of the time said, 'No, no, Galileo it's flat,' and Galileo got life under house arrest for his little theory. Today, the vast majority of scientists will tell you the Earth is getting warmer and most would agree that industry is at least in part to blame. So far nobody's gone to jail for saying that, which doesn't mean the idea isn't squarely at the center of a political dust up -- and not an insignificant one at that because, if the charges leveled against the White House are true, an important environmental question is being twisted or ignored for the sake of politics."
"If you see a whole monkfish at the market, you'll find its massive mouth scarier than a shark's. Apparently it sits on the bottom of the ocean, opens its Godzilla jaws and waits for poor unsuspecting fishies to swim right into it, not unlike the latest recipients of W's capital-gains cuts."
Good Morning Morons Award [second and third runners-up]:
"Is your SUV a weapon of terrorism? Some people think so. They're taking out ads to tell you why." "Coming up in our next half-hour, is your SUV a weapon of mass destruction?"
"What would you advise the United States to do today to fight al-Qaeda?...What would be the wise course for the United States to follow now in Iraq?"
Al Franken Cheap Shot Award (for Lambasting Rush Limbaugh) [second and third runners-up]:
"Rush Limbaugh has been more than a bit unkind to me more than once. He's also been unkind to Al Franken, who in turn has been unkind to him. He's taken shots at Michael Wolff, New York magazine's media critic and Michael is hardly the retiring sort. So, here we all are, Al, Michael, and me, and the subject is Rush -- made worse, no doubt, by the permanent smirk that seems to be attached to my face."
"Derrick Jackson, who's a columnist for the Boston Globe, Tim, back in July when ESPN hired Rush Limbaugh, he wrote a column about some of the comments that Mr. Limbaugh has made in the past. In the 1970s, according to this column, Limbaugh told an African-American caller, 'take that bone out of your nose and call me back.' He goes on to say Limbaugh has always had crime and black people on the brain. He once said, 'have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?'...Given the fact that Rush Limbaugh has made these kind of inflammatory comments in the past, was it appropriate for ESPN to hire him in this capacity?"
What Liberal Media? Award [second and third runners-up]:
"I think the press was muzzled, and I think the press self-muzzled. I'm sorry to say, but certainly television and, perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did....The entire body politic...did not ask enough questions, for instance, about weapons of mass destruction. I mean, it looks like this was disinformation at the highest levels."
"It took conservatives a lot of hard and steady work to push the media rightward. It dishonors that work to continue to presume that -- except for a few liberal columnists -- there is any such thing as the big liberal media. The media world now includes (1) talk radio, (2) cable television and (3) the traditional news sources (newspapers, newsmagazines and the old broadcast networks). Two of these three major institutions tilt well to the right, and the third is under constant pressure to avoid even the pale hint of liberalism....What it adds up to is a media heavily biased toward conservative politics and conservative politicians."
Quote of the Year [second runner-up]:
"Our greatest accomplishment as a profession is the development since World War II of a news reporting craft that is truly non-partisan, and non-ideological, and that strives to be independent of undue commercial or governmental influence.... "It is that legacy we must protect with our diligent stewardship. To do so means we must be aware of the energetic effort that is now underway to convince our readers that we are ideologues. It is an exercise of, in disinformation, of alarming proportions, this attempt to convince the audience of the world's most ideology-free newspapers that they're being subjected to agenda-driven news reflecting a liberal bias. I don't believe our viewers and readers will be, in the long-run, misled by those who advocate biased journalism."
END Rundown of second and third runners-up quotes
That's it for the "Best of" issue this year.
"Best of" awards issue in the news. I'm aware of a couple of presentations in newspapers of selected quotes from the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 2003: The Sixteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting."
First, today's (Wednesday, December 31) New York Post devotes the entire editorial column to reciting their favorite quotes. "HOIST ON THEIR OWN PETARD" is online at: nypost.com
Last Friday, December 26, Denver's Rocky Mountain News featured a column by Mike Rosen, "2003 media madness," in which he listed the quotes he found most obnoxious. See: www.rockymountainnews.com
No more CyberAlerts until next year.
-- Brent Baker