Ten Years of Nattering Nabobs
by L. Brent Bozell III
October 21, 1997
The Media Research Center is celebrating it's 10th anniversary making life miserable for liberal reporters, and to mark the occasion has released it's "Best Notable Quotables: A Decade of Bias." To read some of these offerings is to believe that this organization really does invent the quotes it attributes to some of the best & brightest of the left-wing press. Believe it or not, they're all true.
The Cold War is over, the Soviet Union has been consigned to the ash heap of history, but let us not forget those in the American press who championed the communist system, hailed its dictators and even bemoaned its demise.
Remember the infamous 1988 "Portrait of the Soviet Union," Ted Turner's Orwellian whitewash of that ghastly regime which aired nationally on WTBS? Siberia was described as the place "where young people go to realize their dreams." The Kremlin was once "the home of the czars. Today it belongs to the people." Religious freedom? "Atheist though the state may be, freedom to worship as you believe is enshrined in the Soviet Constitution."
Millions cheered as the Berlin Wall came crashing down in 1989, but some in this country weren't so sure we should be doing that. "Few tears will be shed over the demise of the East German army," CBS reporter Bob Simon conceded in March of 1990, "but what about East Germany's eighty symphony orchestras, bound to lose some subsidies, or the whole East German system, which covered everyone in a security blanket from day care to health care, from housing to education? Some people are beginning to express, if ever so slightly, nostalgia for that Berlin Wall." There was the 1992 New York Times story on the last Soviet political prisoners being released from prison which carried this mind-boggling heading: "A Gulag Breeds Rage, Yes, but Also Serenity."
If you liked the system, you loved its leader -no matter how much history you needed to invent to justify it. "What do you do for an encore after ending the Cold War and reversing the arms race? How about saving the planet? That's the latest assignment for Mikhail Gorbachev, having assumed the presidency of the International Green Cross, a new environmental organization." Or so believed Time magazine in 1993.
Ten years of quote-gathering shows that the press has had lots of heroes. Anita Hill, "the poised daughter of so many generations of black women who have been burned carrying torches into the battle for principle" (Time, 1991) was one. Another was (and still is) Hillary. "If we could be one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been in the White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners... tell Mrs. Clinton we respect her and we're pulling for her." That was Dan Rather, who should have taken his own advice, discussing with Bill Clinton his new on-air partnership with Connie Chung in 1993.
If the liberal media darling is caught in a compromising situation - say, blowing people's hands and heads off with pipe bombs - the spin job is more difficult, yes, but not impossible. Ted Kaczynski "wasn't a hypocrite," Time's Elaine Shannon told C-SPAN in 1996. "He lived as he wrote. His manifesto, and there are a lot of things in it what I would agree with and a lot of other people would, [such as] that industrialization and pollution all are terrible things, but he carried it to an extreme, and obviously murder is something that is far beyond any political philosophy, but" - you just knew there was going to be a qualifying but, didn't you - "he had a bike. He didn't have any plumbing, he didn't have any electricity."
On the eve of Desert Storm, December 1996, Boston Globe reporter Larry Tye explained why War Is Hell: "Tanks could crunch grass and other vegetation, knock down dunes and kick up sandstorms, said Ken Nagy, who teaches about deserts at the University of California at Los Angeles. 'Plants and animals there are already living on the edge,' he said, 'and this insult could be enough to push them over the edge.'" But that prediction couldn't beat this one: "Remember all that chatter about a short war? Well, forget it." That appeared in Time's March 4, 1991 edition, dated two weeks after the end of the shortest war of its kind in history.
It's a good thing we don't listen to the press anymore these days, too. As the world prepares for the environmental summit in Kyoto, let us be thankful that we didn't heed the global warming solution offered by Newsweek's Jerry Adler in December, 1991. "It's a morbid observation, but if everyone on earth just stopped breathing for an hour, the greenhouse effect would no longer be a problem."