Notable Quotables - 04/28/2003


ABC Indulges the Paranoid Left

"When we come back this evening, being against the war and in show business - and the people who want to punish you for that."
-ABC's Peter Jennings previewing an upcoming segment on World News Tonight, April 16.

Peter Jennings: "Finally this evening, what it sometimes costs to be in the minority and say what you think publicly. There is nothing like a war to create tension between some of those who most fervently support it and those who do not. And as we've seen in the case of this war, when those who are opposed happen to be in show business, well, some other people want to make them pay...."
Actor Tim Robbins: "A chill wind is blowing in this nation."
Jim Wooten: "In Washington this week, Robbins criticized the political climate in which his right to express his views has come under attack....All this has reminded some of the McCarthy era's blacklists that barred those even accused of communist sympathies from working in films or on television."
-ABC's World News Tonight, April 16.


Speaking of the Paranoid Left...

"This week, the big construction company Bechtel received a contract that could pay three quarters of a billion dollars for work in post-war Iraq....One of Bechtel's senior vice presidents is a former general who serves on the Defense Policy Board, along with other hawks like Richard Perle and James Woolsey, who wanted war with Iraq and got it. They advise the Pentagon and then turn around and make money out of their defense contacts.
These fellows are all honorable men, I'm sure. But they call for war with all the ferocity of non-combatants and then turn around and feed on the corpse of war. Illegal? Not in our system. Unsavory? No matter how you slice it. But the main point is this: America's corporate and political elites now form a regime of their own and theyre privatizing democracy. All the benefits the tax cuts, policies and rewards flow in one direction: up."
-Bill Moyers on his PBS newsmagazine Now, April 18.


Patriotic Rally = Vandalism

"Americans remain split over the war: A pro-war rally was held in New York Thursday at Ground Zero, while in California vandals spray-painted anti-war slogans on more than 50 SUVs and trucks apparently targeted for their gas mileage."
-Item read by anchor Heidi Collins during CNN's "At This Hour" news update at 1:13am EDT April 11.


One Final Propaganda Gift

"And people here have been buoyed by the sight of Saddam Hussein on Iraqi television last night, greeting with, greeting people in a residential area of Baghdad."
-CBS's Lara Logan on the April 5 Saturday Early Show, reporting on video purportedly showing Saddam alive and well and walking on a Baghdad city street. Four days later, Iraqis jubilantly celebrated Saddam's overthrow.


Missing Saddam Already

"There is a growing sense of disillusionment. Iraqis wanted U.S. troops to bring them freedom and security, but Iraqis are having to protect themselves and have started setting up impromptu check points...Time may be running out. People here don't seem prepared to give the United States the benefit of the doubt. 'Now we know that America came to occupy us' says this man, 'they came to steal our oil and our riches and then to leave.'"
-Freelancer Richard Engel reporting for ABC's World News Tonight on April 11, just two days after U.S. troops took control of most of Baghdad.

"The sudden disappearance of Iraqi control here quickly gave way to violence and looting, which many blamed on the Americans. 'Saddam Hussein is better than George Bush,' said this man. 'Saddam would never allow any of this looting.'"
-ABC's Jim Sciutto reporting from Tikrit, Iraq, on the April 14 World News Tonight.


Blame the U.S., Not Iraqi Thieves

"As we've reported, so many places that maybe should have been guarded in Iraq were not. Two of the Bush administrations cultural advisors in Iraq have now resigned. They were frustrated by the failure of U.S. forces to prevent the pillage of Iraq's national museum."
-ABC's Peter Jennings on World News Tonight, April 17.

"The country has been a living archive of man's earliest history, where real connections can be made between then and now, which is why the Pentagon is being so widely criticized for not protecting the history when it captured the capital city....The Pentagon has said, in reply, look, this is war, and stuff happens, the U.S. was fired on from the museum grounds. Not a satisfactory answer for people who say that if the U.S. managed to protect the Ministry of Oil, why not this repository of civilization? Why, they ask, is neglect forgivable?"
-Jennings the next night.


Concealing Iraq's Evil Secrets

"Each time I visited [Iraq], I became more distressed by what I saw and heard - awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.... Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely."
-CNN news executive Eason Jordan in an April 11 New York Times op-ed in which he disclosed that he knew but did not report stories of intimidation, torture, assassination and the attempted killing of CNN staff in Iraq.


CNN's Error: Keeping Secrets...

"If CNN deliberately kept its coverage [of Saddam Hussein] bland and inoffensive, that would help explain why the regime was not perceived to be as ruthless as it in fact was, in the Arab world and elsewhere....Some CNN reporting did seem deliberately unprovocative, given the true nature of the regime. An election last autumn, which Saddam Hussein won with 100 percent of the votes, was interpreted as a 'message of defiance to U.S. President George Bush,' for example. If the network had also told its viewers that Mr. Jordan dealt with an Iraqi official whose teeth had been pried out for upsetting his boss, Uday Hussein, then those watching the electoral story might have felt differently about that report, about the election result and about a regime that terrified its citizens into proclaiming their unanimous support."
-An April 15 Washington Post editorial.


...Or Revealing Them?

"I was just frankly surprised he [CNN executive Eason Jordan] eventually went public with it. I mean if you decide to keep that as a secret for yourself to protect those people and to protect the interests of your company, then you probably ought to keep it secret for a long time, because it opens them up now wherever they go, wherever they're stationed, 'Well, what are they not telling us now?'"
-NBC's Tom Brokaw on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman, April 15.


War's Over, Time to Slam Tax Cut

"If the President's looking for another salesman to help him with this tax package, I got a candidate, that old Iraqi information minister. He knows how to sell a fraud....This is a giveaway to wealthy investors and contributors."
-Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt on CNN's Capital Gang, April 19.


ABC's Koppel: Still Not Convinced

"My level of cynicism about the reasons that took us to war against Iraq remain just as well-developed as they were before I went....The young men and women who carried out the orders of their civilian masters did it in a brilliant fashion. They worked hard, they are to be admired....Was what they were told to do necessary? The jury is still out on that one."
-Ted Koppel at a forum sponsored by George Washington University and Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy shown April 21 live on C-SPAN.


Blame Bush for Cuban Crackdown

"Diplomatic observers said the dissident movement was too small to pose a threat to the Cuban government, and it was the open support the dissidents were getting from Cuba's long-time ideological foe, the United States, that prompted the massive crackdown....'With an aggressive right-wing administration in Washington, we had to put some order here,' a Cuban government official told Reuters....The official said Cuban authorities believed President Bush was capable of anything to please Cuban exiles in Florida, a key state for his re-election."
-April 16 Reuters dispatch by Anthony Boadle about the arrest and imprisonment of 75 Cuban dissidents.

Poor, Jobless Iraqi Sculptors

"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."
-Peter Jennings during ABC's live coverage at about 10:45am EDT on April 9, shortly before Marines helped cheering Iraqis topple their former dictator's statue.


Saddam's Thugs Like Minutemen

"One side prides itself on discipline and travels in well-defined military columns; the other uses guerrilla tactics - sniping at the enemy, harassing them with 'irregulars' and disregarding certain generally accepted rules of war. It may sound like the current war in Iraq, but it's also a description of the conflict between British troops and colonial forces who fought in the American War of Independence from 1775 to 1783. As U.S. and British authorities accuse Iraq of not fighting fairly, some historians have noted wryly that British officers made the same complaints about American colonists in the late 18th century."
-From an April 8 Reuters dispatch by Greg Frost.