2. The Judges Who Selected the Winning Quotes
3. Audience Awarded the "Quote of the Year" to Charles Pierce
Rush Limbaugh and Sam Donaldson made surprise appearances at the MRC's "DisHonors Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2003," which were presented on Thursday night, March 18, before an audience of about 850 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Following the presentation of the awards, as MRC President L. Brent Bozell III made closing remarks and thanked those who made the evening possible, he was interrupted by ABC News veteran Sam Donaldson, who bound on stage in mock anger, railing at Bozell and the MRC for the attack on the news media.
Bozell soon resumed thanking staff members, only to have the evening's producer, Leesa Kelly, interrupt him a second time to tell him there was someone else who wished to come on stage to make some comments. When Bozell acceded to her request, the theme music to Rush Limbaugh's radio show began to play and an astonished audience quickly comprehended what that meant just as Rush Limbaugh strode on stage, prompting a lengthy standing ovation. Limbaugh proceeded to deliver remarks for about 15 minutes, covering a wide range of topics from the power of the news media to how liberals are afraid of being seen as liberal to the hostility toward him by the local Florida media in covering the prosecutor's case against him.
On Friday, as soon as we are able to obtain the tape of the event, we will post RealPlayer video of both Donaldson and Limbaugh. When it is posted, you'll be able to view it here: www.mediaresearch.org
I'd expect Limbaugh to comment on his radio show today about his appearance, which I believe may well have been his first public appearance since his drug rehabilitation last fall. So tune in to hear that.
Now, on to an explanation of how the award winners were picked and a rundown of the program which took place before Donaldson and Limbaugh surprised the audience:
Winners were selected by a distinguished panel of 13 leading media observers who served as judges -- including Cal Thomas, Steve Forbes, Ann Coulter, John Fund, Kate O'Beirne, Lucianne Goldberg, Walter E. Williams, Thomas Winter and R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. For the list of judges, see item #2 below.
Cal Thomas, a syndicated columnist and host of FNC's After Hours with Cal Thomas, served as Master of Ceremonies. Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, was the first presenter, followed by nationally syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin and then Jonah Goldberg, a CNN commentator, syndicated columnist and contributing editor to National Review Online. In place of the journalist who won each award, a conservative accepted it in jest.
Those standing in for the winners: Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Jeanne Kirkpatrick; President of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue; American Spectator Publisher Al Regnery; conservative direct mail innovator Richard Viguerie; and national radio talk show host Laura Ingraham.
The evening began with welcoming remarks from Cal Thomas, an invocation by Reverend Vincent Rigdon, the Pledge of Allegiance led by Thomas and John Butler singing the National Anthem.
Following the dinner (filet mignon), Thomas opened the festivities by playing his favorite stupid media quotes from 2003, starting with this question from an unidentified reporter at the Pentagon briefing shown live on all major news channels early in the afternoon of March 21, 2003 just days into the war:
Next, Thomas highlighted this comment from CBS's Bob Simon uttered on March 24, as U.S. tanks roared toward Baghdad:
Thomas' third and last humorously stupid video selection, this exchange on ABC's World News Tonight between John McWethy and Peter Jennings just a few days before Baghdad fell:
Thomas then introduced Scarborough, the first of three presenters.
For all five "DisHonors Awards" categories, the top three quotes in each category were played in random order followed by the announcement of the winner. Throughout the night Thomas, the presenters and acceptors entertained the audience with humorous comments about current events, mocking the pretentiousness displayed in the nominated quotes and the poor journalism of those being highlighted.
In between the third and fourth categories, the audience enjoyed a musical interlude from the Capitol Steps with a series of parody songs featuring characters playing Arianna Huffington, George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, as well as John Kerry and suitors for his vice presidential nod: Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, Wesley Clark and Howard Dean.
Following the five awards, the audience, through its cheering and clapping, picked the "Quote of the Year." (See #3 below for the winner.)
To get the full flavor of the humorous atmosphere of the evening, you'll need to watch video of the event. The MRC's Mez Djouadi has already posted RealPlayer videos of each nominated quote, but through the day Friday he'll be adding video segments of Cal Thomas introducing the presenters, the presentations of the awards and the remarks of those accepting them. So, as the hours pass, check back with this address to see what has been added since you last checked: www.mediaresearch.org
* Baghdad Bob Award for Parroting Enemy Propaganda Presented by Joe Scarborough
"Within the United States, there is growing challenge to President Bush about the conduct of the war and also opposition to the war. So our reports about civilian casualties here, about he resistance of the Iraqi forces are going back to the United States. It helps those who oppose the war and it challenges the policy to develop their arguments.
"There's not a good deal for Iraqis to be happy about at the moment. Life is still very chaotic, beset by violence in many cases, huge shortages. In some respects, Iraqis keep telling us life is not as stable for them as it was when Saddam Hussein was in power."
And the winner is:
Diane Sawyer: "I read this morning that he's [Saddam Hussein] also said the love that the Iraqis have for him is so much greater than anything Americans feel for their President because he's been loved for 35 years, he says, the whole 35 years."
Accepting for Diane Sawyer and Dan Harris....Jeanne Kirkpatrick
* The I'm Not a Geopolitical Genius But I Play One on TV Award
Presented by Joe Scarborough
Left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore: "What happened to the search for Osama bin Laden?"
"Can I say one last thing? I haven't even been drinking, at all. But, you know, 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!"
And the winner is:
MSNBC's Mike Barnicle: "Who do you regard as a bigger threat to world peace: George Bush, or Saddam Hussein?"
And accepting for Janeane Garofalo....Bill Donohue
* Media Know It All Award
Presented by Michelle Malkin
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."
"The President's tax cut is beginning to show up. Will three extra dollars stimulate the national economy?"
And the winner is:
"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....But we don't wear the political collar of our owners or the government or any political party. 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."
And accepting for Howell Raines....Al Regnery
* I Hate You #!*#! Conservatives Award
Presented by Jonah Goldberg
"What must it be like to live in Rush Limbaugh's world? A world where when anyone other than conservative, white men attempts to do anything or enter any profession, be it business, politics, art or sports, the only reason they're allowed entry or, incredibly, attain excellence is because the standard was lowered. Be they liberals, people of color, women, the poor or anyone with an accent. So as Rush's world has steadily crumbled, it's no wonder he allegedly had to turn to prescription pain killers....Edgy, controversial, brilliant. What a way to shake up intelligent sports commentary. Hitler would have killed in talk radio. He was edgy, too."
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-'"
And the winner is:
"I decided to put on my flag pin tonight -- first time. Until now I haven't thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see....I put it on to take it back. The flag's been hijacked and turned into a logo - the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. On those Sunday morning talk shows official chests appear adorned with the flag as if it is the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval and during the State of the Union did you notice Bush and Cheney wearing the flag? How come? No administration's patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies. And the flag bestows no immunity from error.
Accepting for Bill Moyers....Richard Viguerie
* Ozzy Osbourne Award (for the Wackiest Comment)
Presented by Joe Scarborough
Host Cal Thomas: "Many conservatives and religious people in this country feel that much of the media, especially the broadcast media, is biased or at least insensitive to their points of view..."
"I know you keep a running log of your every waking activity. There's an article in the Style section of the Washington Post this morning. It says you've logged 26 years of personal minutiae, filling 4,400 two-by-three inch notebooks, color-coded by season. An example: '12:17' -- this is when you made the announcement -- 'Ascend stage, stumble, regain balance; 12:18: Applause, 'Where the Streets Have No Name,' plays (U2); 12:19: Clap, wave; 12:20: Adjust tie (red, white stripes); 12:21: Double thumbs up; 12:22: Sing along with National Anthem, right hand on heart.' What, what do you do this for?!"
And the winner is:
"If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age."
Accepting for Charles Pierce....Laura Ingraham
The Judges: To select the winners of the MRC's "DisHonors Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporting of 2003," a distinguished panel of 13 leading observers of the liberal media in action generously gave of their time to serve as our judges. They reviewed three to five quotes in each of five award categories. For each set of quotes the judges picked first and second place choices. First place selections earned two points, second choices were allocated one point. The MRC's Kristina Sewell tabulated the ballots.
- L. Brent Bozell III, President of the Media Research Center
- Ann Coulter, syndicated columnist and author of Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism
- Steve Forbes, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes magazine
- John Fund, conservative commentator and featured writer for the Political Diary e-mail report for the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com
- Lucianne Goldberg, radio talk show host and publisher of Lucianne.com
- Kate O'Beirne, Washington Editor of National Review and a panelist on CNN's Capital Gang
- Michelle Malkin, syndicated columnist, Fox News Channel contributor and author of Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists Criminals & Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores
- Al Regnery, Publisher of The American Spectator
- William Rusher, Distinguished Fellow at the Claremont Institute
- Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist, host of FNC's Saturday night After Hours with Cal Thomas and panelist on FNC's Fox Newswatch
- R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., syndicated columnist, Editor-in-Chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House
- Walter E. Williams, syndicated columnist and professor of economics at George Mason University
- Thomas Winter, Editor-in-Chief of Human Events
Quote of the Year. Following the presentation of the awards, attendees saw replays of the four winning quotes uttered by members of the news media: Diane Sawyer and Dan Harris on Saddam Hussein's popularity, Howell Raines on the assault against "ideology-free" newspapers, Bill Moyers complaining about the threat posed by flag pins and how the U.S. did to Iraq what al-Qaeda did to the U.S., and the Boston Globe's Charles Pierce on how Ted Kennedy's policies would have brought "comfort" in "her old age" to Mary Jo Kopechne. (See item #1 above for the quotes in full.)
Then, as a picture of each nominee was displayed, audience members were asked by MRC President L. Brent Bozell to hoot, holler and do their best Dean scream impersonation to indicate their preference so that he, along with Cal Thomas, Michelle Malkin, Jonah Goldberg and Laura Ingraham could decipher the audience's preference. (Joe Scarborough had departed to do his 10pm EST show live on MSNBC.)
Without question, Pierce's quote generated the most reaction and thus won the "Quote of the Year" dishonor. Since as a print quote we had no video for it, as Pierce's words scrolled on screen, those in attendance heard Ted Kennedy-like voice reading the quote. Our uncredited Kennedy impersonator: Rich Noyes, the MRC's Director of Research.
The quote, from Pierce in a January 5, 2003 profile of Kennedy in the Boston Globe magazine: "If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age."
For a picture of Pierce, as posted on his own Web site: www.charlespierce.net
Here's the paragraph in full in which the sentence appeared:
"Kennedy Unbound" read the headline over the profile. The fawning subhead: "After 40 years in the U.S. Senate, Edward M. Kennedy has transcended the family mythology and become his own man."
# Funniest line of the evening: Sam Donaldson ended his surprise appearance by saying that while he's been off of TV, he's been keeping busy writing under a pen name: Charles Pierce.
-- Brent Baker