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They Said What?! Exposing the ‘Mainstream’ Media

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The Media Research Center is out with its annual Best Notable Quotables awards – a compilation of the most outrageous and/or unintentionally revealing news media quotes from December 2010 through November 2011.

Votes were cast by a panel of 48 radio talk show hosts, magazine editors, columnists, editorial writers, and expert media observers.

The following are some of the more egregious examples of media bias and foolishness. (For the complete list, as well as the order in which they were ranked, visit www.mrc.org.)

Tea Party Terrorists

“We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was. [Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has] been the target of violence before…. Her father says that ‘the whole Tea Party’ was her enemy. And yes, she was on Sarah Palin’s infamous ‘crosshairs’ list. Just yesterday, [liberal writer] Ezra Klein remarked that opposition to health reform was getting scary. Actually, it’s been scary for quite a while, in a way that already reminded many of us of the climate that preceded the Oklahoma City bombing…. Violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hatemongers.” – New York Times columnist Paul Krugman in a 3:22 p.m. ET January 8 blog posting, less than two hours after news broke of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Salon’s Joan Walsh: “These people, the Tea Partiers and their friends and their enablers and their corporate friends…they have created this shrieking on the right…. They’re paying the lowest taxes in 50 years – more than 50 years, more than my lifetime – and they are still complaining. And some of them aren’t complaining. There are some good business people who know this game of chicken, in particular, is deadly and it’s wrong and it’s hostage-taking. And you shouldn’t negotiate with hostage-takers.” Host Chris Matthews: “I agree with you. I agree with you. I agree. It’s terrorism.” – MSNBC’s “Hardball,” July 5.

“If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the GOP on a suicide mission.” – New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, July 27.

“You know what they say: Never negotiate with terrorists. It only encourages them. These last few months, much of the country has watched in horror as the Tea Party Republicans have waged jihad on the American people…. For now, the Tea Party Republicans can put aside their suicide vests. But rest assured: They’ll have them on again soon enough.” – New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, August 2.

The Object of Their Worship

“Can we just enjoy Obama for a moment? Before the policy choices have to be weighed and the hard decisions have to be made, can we just take a month or two to contemplate him the way we might contemplate a painting by Vermeer or a guitar lick by the early-seventies Rolling Stones or a Peyton Manning pass or any other astounding, ecstatic human achievement? Because twenty years from now, we’re going to look back on this time as a glorious idyll in American politics, with a confident, intelligent, fascinating president riding the surge of his prodigious talents from triumph to triumph…. ‘I am large, I contain multitudes,’ Walt Whitman wrote, and Obama lives that lyrical prophecy…. Barack Obama is developing into what Hegel called a ‘world-historical soul,’ an embodiment of the spirit of the times. He is what we hope we can be.” – Esquire’s Stephen Marche in a column for the magazine’s August 2011 issue: “How Can We Not Love Obama? Because Like It or Not, He Is All of Us.”

By calmly and meticulously overseeing the successful targeting of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama just proved himself – vividly, in almost biblical terms – to be an effective commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States.” – Ex-Newsweek correspondent and editor Howard Fineman writing at the Huffington Post, May 2.

Left-Wing Protest Promotion

“We thought we’d bring you up to date on those protesters, the Occupy Wall Street movement. As of tonight, it has spread to more than 250 American cities, more than a thousand countries – every continent but Antarctica.” – Diane Sawyer on ABC’s “World News,” October 10. On a later edition, Sawyer corrected her still-absurd hype: “…more than a thousand cities around the world.”

“Good evening. We begin tonight with what has become by any measure a pretty massive protest movement. While it goes by the official name ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ it has spread steadily and far beyond Wall Street, and it could well turn out to be the protest of this current era.” – Anchor Brian Williams leading off the October 5 NBC “Nightly News.”

“This week: people power making history. A revolt in the Midwest and a revolution sweeping across the Middle East…. Populist frustration is boiling over this week – as we’ve said, not just in the Middle East, but in the middle of this country as well.” ABC’s Christiane Amanpour opening “This Week,” February 20, referring to Wisconsin and Egypt.

Media Heroes

“Bill Clinton has taken the prestige of his time in office, his relationships with other heads of state and forged something never known before, a global force for good. He’s fighting AIDS in Africa, the devastation of floods and earthquakes, and nearly every other challenge facing mankind on the face of the globe…. We’ve never had a world leader like this before! Bill Clinton: President of the World.” – Chris Matthews on the February 9 “Hardball,” touting his upcoming MSNBC documentary on Clinton.

“Say ‘Al Sharpton’ and most people probably think ‘loudmouth activist’ and ‘provocateur.’ Well, that certainly was his image in the ’80s and ’90s. Well, the Reverend Al has gone through something of a metamorphosis. Today, he’s downright tame, so much that he’s made his way into the establishment. It’s been quite a trajectory: from street-protest agitator to candidate for president in 2004, to now, a trusted White House adviser who’s become the president’s go-to black leader….” – Lesley Stahl setting up a profile of Al Sharpton on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” May 22.

Smearing the Anti-Obama Rabble

“Tea Party budget-slashers…. were like cannibals, eating their own party and leaders alive. They were like vampires, draining the country’s reputation, credit rating and compassion. They were like zombies, relentlessly and mindlessly coming back again and again to assault their unnerved victims, [House Speaker John] Boehner and President Obama. They were like the metallic beasts in “Alien” flashing mouths of teeth inside other mouths of teeth, bursting out of Boehner’s stomach every time he came to a bouquet of microphones.” – New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, August 3 column.

Host Piers Morgan: “Where is the similar mob to Mussolini’s and Hitler’s in the modern democratic era? The Tea Party?” Ann Coulter: “No. No, no, no.” Morgan: “The nearest thing to it in America?… Are you wild about them?… The Tea Party?”… Coulter: “Oh, yeah, I love them.” Morgan: “See, I don’t really get that…. I don’t get that because you’re a smart cookie…. You’re intelligent. You live a provocative life.” Coulter: “I believe you’re insulting the Tea Partiers.” Morgan: “Well, they’re not among the brightest of spellers, are they?” – CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,” June 7.

Nasty, Belligerent Chris Matthews

Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page: “Well this is Newt’s time to run…. He has a good shot at winning the nomination. Winning the general is a whole different matter. But this – ” Host Chris Matthews, interrupting: “But he looks like a car bomber. He looks like a car bomber, Clarence. He looks like a car bomber. He’s got that crazy Mephistophelian grin of his. He looks like he loves torturing. Look at the guy! I mean this, this is not the face of a president.” – MSNBC’s “Hardball,” March 2.

Host Chris Matthews: “One thing I notice about black people at different conventions. You go to a Democratic convention…and black folk are hanging together and having a good time. They’re smiling, they’re enjoying themselves. They feel very much at home. You go to a Republican event, you get a feeling that you are all told, ‘Individually now, don’t bunch up. Don’t, don’t, don’t get together. Don’t get together, don’t crowd, you’ll scare these people.’ Is that true in the Republican Party? Is that still true in your party? Did you fear that if you got together with some other African-Americans, these white guys might get scared of you?” Former RNC chairman Michael Steele: “No! What are you talking about?!” – MSNBC’s “Hardball,” January 17.

“The utter confusion in the Republican presidential nominating process results from two discernible facts. One: they hate. That’s the simplest explanation of the disastrous course of this selection process. They hate so much they are not in the mood to fall in love with a candidate or even fall in behind someone. Their brains, racked as they are by hatred, they lack the ‘like’ mode. They are in no mood looking around for a politician they like. The hating is so much more satisfying.” – Chris Matthews on “Hardball,” November 15.

“ ‘Hardball’ is absolutely non-partisan.” – Chris Matthews in an interview with local Washington, D.C. host Carol Joynt, as quoted by The Politico’s Patrick Gavin in a December 9, 2010 article.

America’s Anti-Muslim ‘Bigotry’

“The bigotry expressed against Muslims in this country has been one of the most disturbing stories to surface this year. Of course, a lot of noise was made about the Islamic Center, mosque, down near the World Trade Center, but I think there wasn’t enough sort of careful analysis and evaluation of where this bigotry toward 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, and how this seething hatred many people feel for all Muslims, which I think is so misdirected, and so wrong, and so disappointing…. Maybe we need a Muslim version of “The Cosby Show”…. I know that sounds crazy. But “The Cosby Show” did so much to change attitudes about African-Americans in this country, and I think sometimes people are afraid of things they don’t understand.” – “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric on her CBSNews.com @KatieCouric web show, December 22, 2010.

Cuba, Model of Health Care

“One of Cuba’s greatest prides is its health care system. Cuba’s government promotes the country’s free and universal medical care from the moment a baby is born as the cornerstone of its communist state…. How can one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere provide free care and achieve such impressive health outcomes?… There’s no doctor shortage in Cuba, which means the health care system here can push doctors and nurses down to the smallest rural communities, providing a kind of care that’s both personal and persistent…. In an era when countries are struggling to do more for less with limited health care dollars, Cuba’s successes in prevention are likely to be closely watched.” – Correspondent Ray Suarez on PBS’s “NewsHour,” December 21, 2010.

Smearing Conservatives as Racists

Clip from RNC ad: “Stop Obama and his union bosses today. The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.” Host Lawrence O’Donnell: “The Republican Party is saying that the president of the United States has bosses, that the union bosses this president around, the unions boss him around. Does that sound to you like they are trying to consciously or subconsciously deliver the racist message that, of course, of course a black man can’t be the real boss?” Ex-governor Jennifer Granholm (D-MI): “Wow, I hadn’t thought about the racial overtones….” – MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” February 25.

“I get out of all of these things that many of these candidates would rather take legislation to build a time machine and go back in time to where we had, you know, no women voting, slavery was cool. I mean, it’s just kind of ridiculous.” – Daytime anchor Thomas Roberts on “MSNBC Live,” September 23, talking about the previous night’s GOP debate.

America, the Real Evil Empire

“What happened after 9/11 – and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not – was deeply shameful. [The] atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons…. The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.” – New York Times columnist Paul Krugman in a September 11 posting to his NYTimes.com blog.

“The dead in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania were used to sanctify the state’s lust for war…. Because few cared to examine our activities in the Muslim world, the attacks became certified as incomprehensible by the state and its lapdogs, the press…. Our brutality and triumphalism, the byproducts of nationalism and our infantile pride, revived the jihadist movement. We became the radical Islamist movement’s most effective recruiting tool. We descended to its barbarity. We became terrorists too…. – Ex-New York Times reporter Chris Hedges writing on Truthdig.com, September 10.

“At the news of Osama bin Laden’s death, thousands of people – most of them college-aged and in requisite flip-floppy collegiate gear – whipped up a raucous celebration right outside the White House gates that was one part Mardi Gras and two parts Bon Jovi concert…. It felt a little crazy, a bit much. Almost vulgar…. When I saw that folks were celebrating in the streets at the news of bin Laden’s death, my first reaction was a cringe. Remember how we all felt watching videos of those al-Qaeda guys dancing on Sept. 11?”
– Washington Post “Metro” section columnist Petula Dvorak, May 3.

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