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The MRC@25: The Worst Media Bias of 2001

For the past two weeks, the MRC has been showcasing the most egregious bias we've uncovered over the years — four quotes for each of the 25 years of the MRC, 100 quotes total — all leading up to our big 25th Anniversary Gala on September 27.

If you’ve missed a previous blog, recounting the worst of 1988 through 2000, you can find them here. Today, the worst bias of 2001, including shocking displays of moral equivalence after 9/11 and Dan Rather’s salute to Bill Clinton’s honesty.

 


“Remember when Ronald Reagan tried to save a few pennies on the school lunch program by classifying ketchup as a vegetable? Last week the Bush administration went further, axing a regulation that forced the meat industry to test hamburgers served in school for salmonella. Imagine, Mad Cow Disease among children, K through 12. The day it hit the papers the proposal was quickly withdrawn. [If] the Bush administration keeps trying to kill health and safety regulations at this pace, soon we won’t be able to eat, drink or breathe.”
— “Outrage of the Week” from Time magazine’s Margaret Carlson, April 7, 2001 Capital Gang on CNN.

 

“The Pentagon as a legitimate target? I actually don’t have an opinion on that and it’s important I not have an opinion on that as I sit here in my capacity right now....I can say the Pentagon got hit, I can say this is what their position is, this is what our position is, but for me to take a position this was right or wrong, I mean, that’s perhaps for me in my private life, perhaps it’s for me dealing with my loved ones, perhaps it’s for my minister at church. But as a journalist I feel strongly that’s something that I should not be taking a position on. I’m supposed to figure out what is and what is not, not what ought to be.”
— ABC News President David Westin to students at a Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism event on October 23, 2001 and shown four days later on C-SPAN.



“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.

 

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.”
O’Reilly: “Even though he lied to Jim Lehrer’s face about the Lewinsky case?”
Rather: “Who among us has not lied about something?”
O’Reilly: “Well, I didn’t lie to anybody’s face on national television. I don’t think you have, have you?”
Rather: “I don’t think I ever have. I hope I never have. But, look, it’s one thing-“
O’Reilly: “How can you say he’s an honest guy then?”
Rather: “Well, because I think he is. 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.


Check back each morning for more classic bias quotes, or visit our “25th Anniversary” section for the entire collection.