Cal Thomas delivered humorous opening remarks at the MRC's DisHonor Awards for 2001

On Thursday night, January 17, 2002, before an audience of more than 800 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C., the Media Research Center presented the "Dishonors Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2001." Winners were picked by a distinguished panel of 14 leading media observers who served as judges — including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Robert Novak, Michael Reagan and Ben Stein — all of whom selected first and second place choices from five quotes in six award categories. Cal Thomas served as Master of Ceremonies. Serving as presenters of video clips of the three highest vote-earning quotes in each category: John Fund, Kate O’Beirne and David Limbaugh.

At the Dishonor Awards, the MRC presented a video tribute to network coverage on September 11th

In place of the journalist who won each award, a conservative accepted it in jest. Those standing in for the winners: Steve Forbes, Lucianne Goldberg, Robert Dornan, William F. Buckley Jr. and Katherine Harris.

Below are the top runners-up in each award category as picked by the judges, followed by the winner and the name of the conservative who accepted the award in jest.

Press Coverage: Columns, editorials and news stories about the Dishonors Awards. Check out pieces run in the Washington Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Pittsburgh Tribune Review and elsewhere.


We’re All Going to Die and It’s Bush’s Fault Award
(for Doomsday Environmental Reporting)

Presentation

Full Presentation for We’re All Going to Die and It’s Bush’s Fault Award (for Doomsday Environmental Reporting)

Runners-up

"This is another bouquet to the right. Arsenic in the water. Starting up the Cold War. Make as much carbon dioxide as you like. Laugh about it. Bush has set himself up as a huge target. And the arsenic is going to be the equivalent of what your boss [Newt Gingrich] did with cutting school lunches."
Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift, addressing Tony Blankley, on the March 24, 2001 McLaughlin Group.

"The Sierra Club calls President Bush’s latest moves on the environment ‘March Madness.’ In the last two weeks, the administration has signaled that it may allow logging in pristine forests that had been declared off limits, has put off a decision to reduce arsenic in drinking water, has suspended a rule to protect the environment from damage caused by mining, has reversed a decision to limit carbon dioxide emissions, and the President also suggested drilling for oil in national parks and is pushing oil exploration in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Some in the President’s own party are becoming alarmed."
ABC’s Linda Douglass opening a story aired on the March 24, 2001 World News Tonight/Saturday

And the winner is...

"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

Bring Back Bubba Award
(for the Best Journalistic Lewinsky)

Presentation

Full Presentation for Bring Back Bubba Award (for the Best Journalistic Lewinsky)

Runners-up

"Elvis, the first rock star. Clinton, the first rock star President....
"Clinton had a talent for convincing anyone listening to him that he was speaking only to them, just as Elvis convinced someone in the 100th row that he was singing only to them. Presley drew on black culture for inspiration. Clinton draws on black culture for solace."
CNN political analyst Bill Schneider, prompted by the August "convergence" days apart of Bill Clinton’s birthday and the day Elvis died, August 16, 2001 Inside Politics

"Now, the return of the Prodigal Son. The, you know, the man who left office disgraced, burdened down by at least three major scandals that I can think of, got a hero’s welcome today, and I couldn’t be happier....
"After impeachment, after Pardongate, after the fake stories about their pilfering of the White House, Bill Clinton’s appearance today in Harlem must have been the feel good event of the season for the former President, and he soaked up the sunshine and love."
Geraldo Rivera discussing Bill Clinton’s "heroic re-emergence" at the opening of his new Harlem offices, on CNBC’s Rivera Live, July 30, 2001

And the winner is...

"Throughout the eight years that he was in office, President Clinton warned us that the next great menace was international terrorism....
"He also brought unprecedented prosperity to our nation, and because of that, President Clinton [Bush] can use the surplus Mr. Clinton left behind to pay for many of the nation’s needs in this time of crisis....
"This lecture series is about the human spirit. To me and millions of others, President Clinton has always personified that. He is the man from Hope, and that is what he has given us, hope. We miss him. Thank you, Mr. President."
Former UPI White House reporter Helen Thomas introducing Bill Clinton at an October 9, 2001 Greater Washington Society of Association Executives lecture shown on C-SPAN

Gilligan Award
(for the Flakiest Comment of the Year)

Presentation

Full Presentation for Gilligan Award (for the Flakiest Comment of the Year)

Runners-up

"[Senator Jim Jeffords] sings country music with Trent Lott and other conservatives, but voted against impeachment and for Hillary Clinton’s health care plan. It’s a record perfectly suited for Vermont — the first state to outlaw slavery, elect a socialist to Congress, produce politically correct ice cream, and legalize same-sex unions. Vermonters say they’re not liberal or conservative, just socially conscious."
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, May 24, 2001 Nightly News

"After pepperoni pizza and banana milkshakes once, I dreamed about Bill Clinton."
ABC’s Diane Sawyer talking with her Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson about a study which claimed that Republicans have three times as many nightmares while they sleep as do Democrats, July 10, 2001

Diane Sawyer: "Watching you and watching you cover the news over the past year, you are so much about passion for politics, and it doesn’t matter to you, I mean — I really mean this."

George Stephanopoulos: "Thank you."

Sawyer: "You’ve been completely non-partisan in covering the news."
Exchange on ABC’s Good Morning America, July 24, 2001

And the winner is...

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.

Peter Arnett Award
(for Hopelessly Foolish Wartime Reporting)

Presentation

Full Presentation for Peter Arnett Award (for Hopelessly Foolish Wartime Reporting)

Runners-up

"We have been the cowards. Lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away, that’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, not cowardly."
ABC’s Bill Maher on Politically Incorrect, September 17, 2001

"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 the Reuters News Service, in an internal memo cited by the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz in a September 24, 2001, article

And the winner is...

"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, shown four days later on C-SPAN.
(After the quote was publicized,
Westin conceded he was wrong.)

Damn Every Conservative We Can Think of to Hell Award

Presentation

Full Presentation for Damn Every Conservative We Can Think of to Hell Award

Runners-up

"And we can’t let Justice Thomas pass on this. There’s no opinion of his in here, he doesn’t ask questions in court. Does he do anything besides vote and rubber stamp Scalia?"
Bryant Gumbel to CBS legal analyst Jonathan Turley following the Bush vs. Gore Supreme Court decision, December 13, 2000 The Early Show

Bill Maher, host of ABC’s Politically Incorrect:
"I do think, if it turns out that this beautiful young girl [Chandra Levy] is gone, I think, and he [Condit] is responsible in some way, you have to look to Ken Starr for a little bit of guilt."

Larry King: "Why?"

Maher: "Because, you know, Ken Starr made it so that you, in the old days, you had an affair with somebody, and you know, okay, you had an affair. The press didn’t report it. They didn’t make a political criminal case of it. Now, it’s almost like you have to get rid of them."
Exchange on CNN’s Larry King Live, July 27, 2001

And the winner is...

A compilation of Bryant Gumbel questions:

"Can you deny that he distorted Mr. White’s record and basically engaged in what some would kindly call character assassination?"
CBS’s Bryant Gumbel to John Ashcroft adviser Charles Polk, on Missouri judge Ronnie White whom Ashcroft had opposed for appointment to a federal court, January 16, 2001 Early Show


"If he’s [Ashcroft] so much of an extremist liability, as you claim, what’s his nomination say about George W. Bush and his claims of compassionate conservatism?"
Gumbel to Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, January 16 Early Show



"What do you think Senator Ashcroft’s distortion of your record and tarnishing of your good name says about his character?"
Gumbel to Missouri Supreme Court judge Ronnie White, January 19 Early Show

The Sore Losers Award
(for Refusing to Concede Bush’s Victory in Florida)

Presentation

Full Presentation for The Sore Losers Award (for Refusing to Concede Bush’s Victory in Florida)

Runners-up

CNN anchor Paula Zahn: "If Al Gore had gotten what he wanted, which was a statewide manual recount or a recount of those four specific counties, George Bush still would have won. So I wonder, and I’m going to put up on the screen now a paragraph from your book where you once said, ‘The wrong man was inaugurated on January 20th, 2001 and this is no small thing in our nation’s history.’ Do you still agree with what you wrote?"

ABC News legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin: "Oh, absolutely. I mean, remember this is just about the undervotes and overvotes. There were thousands of votes that were clearly mistakenly cast. Democracy is about the intent of the voters...."
Exchange on CNN after the latest media recount, November 12, 2001

"Should five of our nation’s nine Supreme Court Justices be in prison? That’s the opinion of famed former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. He says the justices who supported George W. Bush in the election dispute are almost treasonous white-collar criminals. He’ll explain why. Because all that is right now on Rivera Live."
"It is a scathing indictment of the high court of the United States, at least these five conservative justices. And I really, really, I urge law students especially, but anyone who’s interested in the machinations of the Court, to check this out. Vince Bugliosi’s The Betrayal of America."
Start and end of Geraldo Rivera’s interview with Bugliosi, CNBC’s Rivera Live, June 25, 2001

And the winner is...

"Nineteen days after the presidential election, Florida’s Republican Secretary of State [Katherine Harris] is about to announce the winner — as she sees it and she decrees it....
"The believed certification — as the Republican Secretary of State sees it — is coming just hours after a court ordered deadline for counties to submit their hand count and recount totals....
"She will certify — as she sees it — who gets Florida’s 25 electoral votes....
"What’s happening here is the certification — as the Florida Secretary of State sees it and decrees it — is being signed....
"And after this, it will be, at least in the opinion of the Secretary of State, that the results will be final..."
Dan Rather during a CBS News Special Report on the November 26, 2000 official certification of Florida’s vote

Quote of the Year

Winner

Following the presentation of the "Dishonor Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2001" attendees saw replays of four of the six winning quotes: Margaret Carlson on George Bush making it so "we won’t be able to eat, drink or breathe," Helen Thomas on missing Bill Clinton, Dan Rather on Bill Clinton as "honest" and Bryant Gumbel on John Ashcroft’s character.

Then, as a picture of each nominee was displayed, the 800 plus audience members at the event, held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, were asked by Master of Ceremonies Cal Thomas to hoot, holler and applaud to indicate their preference. It wasn’t close at all. After huddling with the presenters (John Fund, Kate O’Beirne and David Limbaugh), Thomas announced the clear winner: Dan Rather insisting, on Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor on May 15, that he considers Bill Clinton to be "an honest man" and "I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of things." The quote in full:

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."

Judges

William F. Buckley, Jr.

National Review Editor-at-Large

John Fund

Columnist for The Wall Street Journal’s OpinionJournal.com

Sean Hannity

co-host of FNC’s Hannity & Colmes; nationally syndicated radio talk show host

Rush Limbaugh

National radio talk show host

Marlin Maddoux

President of the USA Radio Network

L. Brent Bozell III

President of the Media Research Center

Ben Stein

Host of Comedy Central’s Win Ben Stein’s Money

Robert Novak

Syndicated and Chicago Sun-Times columnist; CNN commentator

Kate O’Beirne

National Review Washington Editor and a panelist on CNN’s Capital Gang

Michael Reagan

Nationally syndicated radio talk show host

William Rusher

Distinguished Fellow at the Claremont Institute

Cal Thomas

Syndicated columnist and panelist on FNC’s Fox Newswatch

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.

Editor-in-Chief of The American Spectator


Photos


Press Coverage

Righting the Liberal News Slant

Christian Toto, From the January 21, 2002 Washington Times


Rare is the honors ceremony in which none of the chosen are present to accept their awards. No one expected them to turn up at the Media Research Center's second annual Dishonor Awards, of course. Excoriating the no-shows was half the fun.

Once again, the "ceremony" on Thursday at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center took aim at 2001's most outrageously biased liberal reporters.

Dan Rather, Bryant Gumbel and Diane Sawyer headed the list of those taking their lumps during an evening as unabashedly partisan to the right as its guests contend the media is to the left.

With names like the "Bring Back Bubba Award" and the "Gilligan Award for Flakiest Comment of the Year," organizers pulled no punches. Neither did those assembled, who threw haymaker after haymaker at the media elite while giggling over a skein of ludicrous news clips.

All compiled by the Alexandria-based Media Research Center, which assiduously tracks left-leaning morsels doled out by traditional media outlets.

Among the winners: Margaret Carlson, who on CNN's "The Capital Gang" opined about President Bush's environmental policies -- "soon, we won't be able to eat, drink or breathe," all with a straight face.

Literary agent Lucianne Goldberg, the self-appointed Auntie Mame of the "vast right-wing conspiracy," slammed White House reporter Helen Thomas for a fawning tribute to former President Bill Clinton.

"There's such a thing as a shelf life," Mrs. Goldberg said of the elderly reporter to merciless laughter.

At a boisterous pre-gala reception, Media Research Center President and Founder L. Brent Bozell III said the public's perception of media bias has grown dramatically since his organization began its work in 1987.

"You can look at all the surveys. The public believes the information it's getting is subjective opinion, not objective truth," said Mr. Bozell, sipping coffee beside friends opting for harder beverages. "They're seeing the bias. They're looking for alternative markets, hence the growth of Fox News."

The conservative confab included master of ceremonies Cal Thomas, William F. Buckley Jr., former Rep. Robert K. Dornan, "Capital Gang" panelist Kate O'Beirne and the Wall Street Journal's John Fund.

Mr. Fund underscored the evening's message while announcing the nominees for several Dishonor Awards.

"There is no vast right-wing conspiracy," he said. "But there is a concentrated, focused and alert one, and it's in this room tonight."

The sight of Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist chatting up flat tax champion Steve Forbes while The Turtles' "Happy Together" played in the background typified the night's rambunctious spirit as did a hilarious series of songs by the Capitol Steps comedy troupe tormenting Rep. Gary Condit and Mr. Clinton.

Some in the audience had felt the sting of the media's left-leaning ways.

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris could only laugh about the times CBS anchor Dan Rather used modifiers like "as she sees it" or "as she deems it" to explain her handling of the Florida election imbroglio.

When she came to Washington she reported, "Even some of the Democrat operatives came to me and said 'we're really glad you followed the law."

Mr. Buckley, who sat at a table named for ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, said the media's liberal bias is nothing new. What's different today, he said, is that the imbalance is more visible to the average voter.

Now, he said, "More people wince when they do their thing."

A Liberal Dose of Conservative Humor

Tom Brazaitis, A column in the January 20, 2002 Cleveland Plain Dealer


So this is what conservatives do for fun.

That's what I was thinking as I took a seat in the balcony overlooking a ballroom in the Ronald Reagan Building on Pennsylvania Ave. On the floor below, 800 men and women dined on grilled Angus beef and Atlantic salmon over mushroom risotto and took pride in belonging to what Hillary Clinton once called "the vast right-wing conspiracy."

They had gathered for the Media Research Center's annual Dishonors Awards, "roasting the most outrageously biased liberal reporters of 2001."

No one noted the irony that the building named for their idol, Ronald Reagan, the self-anointed slayer of big government, is, at close to $1 billion, the most expensive government building and, at 3.1 million square feet, second in size only to the Pentagon.

And no one mentioned another noteworthy curiosity: that the list of 39 sponsoring organizations and individuals included not only the Enron Corp., but the Enron Good Government Fund, the Enron Retirement Fund, the Enron IRA Account and the Enron Profit Sharing Account. I wondered whether their checks had cleared.

After more than two hours of wining and dining, the assembly settled back for what the public relations executive who promoted the event predicted would be "a night of hooting, howling and hollering" at the liberal media.

After that buildup, I was ready for the 21st-century version of the Roman Colosseum, only to be disappointed by the relative docility of the audience. At one point, David Limbaugh (Rush's brother), who was one of the award presenters, practically begged, "Let's be as insensitive as we can."

There were some boos and hisses as the nominees for such awards as "flakiest comment of the year" and "hopelessly foolish wartime reporting" were presented in video clips on a giant screen. But the laughter, for the most part, seemed forced, except when it came to mocking CBS news anchor Dan Rather.

Rather won two of the six "Dishonors Awards" and captured the grand prize, "Most Outrageous Quote of the Year 2001," by audience acclamation. The winning entry was Rather's comment in an interview on the Fox Cable Channel that "Bill Clinton is, at core, an honest person....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."

None of the so-called award-winners was present, of course. Accepting for Rather was Katherine Harris, the Florida secretary of state who was a key player in the presidential vote-counting fiasco in that state.

On an evening of humor that was about as subtle as a wrecking ball, Harris' self-deprecating joking was refreshing. She said of Rather, "In his opinion, he is an honest broker of information. Right, and I forgot to put on my makeup during the recount."

By contrast, the Wall Street Journal's John Fund, whose editorials, signed columns and frequent television appearances denounced President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, didn't so much as blush while presenting the "Bring Back Bubba Award (for the Best Journalistic Lewinsky)."

That very morning, the Washington Post had published an account of "the 40-something Fund's strange and stormy romance with 20-something Morgan Pillsbury," who underwent an abortion after becoming pregnant by Fund. To make the story even seamier, Fund had had an intimate affair 20 years earlier with Morgan's mother, Melinda Pillsbury-Foster, the paper reported.

Without a reference to his own moral morass, Fund ridiculed the national media's "love affair" with Clinton that "continues, if only platonically."

In closing, L. Brent Bozell III, founder and president of the Media Research Council, lamented that "the liberal media find no humor, none whatsoever, in what we do." He cited published reviews of last year's awards ceremony describing the event as "tasteless," "trading on silly stereotypes," and "an event in which spitefulness and ad hominem personal attacks" pass for humor.

Undaunted, Bozell said President George W. Bush had asked people to go on with their lives as usual after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, so "it's pretty damn patriotic what we're doing tonight." The liberal media, Bozell said, "deserve every slap upside the head that they get."

The evening ended, as if apologetically, with a documentary praising the media's coverage of Sept. 11, featuring in positive roles Rather, Jennings, Rivera, Diane Sawyer and others who had just been ridiculed.

Conservatives sure know how to have fun.

Brazaitis is a senior editor in The Plain Dealer's Washington bureau.

See, Hear, Speak No Balance: Harris Gets her Due

An editorial in the January 18 Pittsburgh Tribune Review


Big doings here Thursday night in the nation's capital. But we doubt you'll read or hear much -- anything? -- about it in the mainstream liberal media this morning.

As "official Washington" enjoyed the last full week of the holiday recess (the second session of the 107th Congress bows Wednesday), conservatives gathered in the atrium of the Reagan International Trade Center for the 2002 Dishonors Awards.

The brainchild of Sunday Trib columnist L. Brent Bozell III and his Media Research Center, the event roasted "the most outrageously biased liberal reporters of the year."

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris was on hand to accept the "Sore Loser Award" for refusing to "concede" Al Gore's "victory" in Florida. Of course, she couldn't have been bestowed such an honor without a lot of help from CBS News anchor Dan Rather. To wit, a few of the Ratherisms featured at last night's festivities:

- "Nineteen days after the presidential election, Florida's Republican secretary of state is about to announce the winner -- as she sees it and she decrees it...."

- "The believed certification -- as the Republican secretary of state sees it -- is coming just hours after a court-ordered deadline for counties to submit their hand count and recount totals...."

- "The reason we're on the air right across the board nationally right now is because Florida's secretary of state -- a Republican, as we've mentioned before -- campaigned actively for George Bush, well-connected to Gov. Bush's governor brother Jeb Bush of Florida...."

- "What's happening here is the certification -- as the Florida secretary of state sees it and decrees it -- is being signed.... After this, it will be, at least in the opinion of the secretary of state, that the results will be final...."

It was a night recognizing how bad the see-, hear- and speak-no-balance liberal media really is. How refreshing it would be if the 2003 Dishonors Awards had to be canceled for lack of nominees. But we're not holding our breath.

See it, Decree it -- I'd Rather Not

Patrick B. McGuigan, A column in January 25, 2002 the Daily Oklahoman


Columnist Cal Thomas, a frequent contributor to The Oklahoman's editorial page, served as master of ceremonies and as a judge at last week's 2001 "Media Dishonors" awards.

The event was held in the atrium of the mammoth Ronald Reagan International Trade Center on Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation's capital. Thomas, critical of naming the building for his favorite president, was in fine form. Curiously, no "winners" accepted in person, necessitating a lineup of conservative celebrities to pick up the trophies. (The evening included an optimistic update from columnist David Limbaugh, who reported his brother Rush, the radio commentator, had recovered most of his hearing after an operation.) The Wall Street Journal's John Fund named Time magazine's Margaret Carlson winner of the "We're All Going to Die and It's Bush's Fault" award for environmental reporting. Decrying steps by George W. Bush to balance regulations, Carlson observed in a commentary that "soon we won't be able to eat, drink or breathe." Helen Thomas, formerly of United Press International, won the "Bring Back Bubba" award for remarks at a Washington dinner in October, where she praised Bill Clinton for personifying "the human spirit."

Poor David Westin, president of ABC News, had already gained nationwide attention, and prior recognition from MRC, for his confused answer, soon after Sept. 11, on the Pentagon as "a legitimate target" for terrorists. At the "dishonors" he got the "Peter Arnett Award (for Hopelessly Foolish Wartime Reporting)." Bryant Gumbel was a double nominee in the "Damn Every Conservative We Can Think of to Hell Award." Gumbel won for repeated assaults, a year ago this month, on Attorney General-nominee John Ashcroft.

CBS News anchor Dan Rather won the "Sore Losers" award recognizing those who can't get over the 2000 election. His winning quote, from Nov. 26, 2000, repeatedly denigrated Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris for certifying election results "as she sees it and decrees it." Rather also won the Gilligan Award for the year's flakiest comment. In an exchange with Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, Rather called former President Clinton "an honest man." In a final presentation, Rather won further honors for the "honest" comment - the 2001 "quote of the year."

The evening concluded with serious reflections from L. Brent Bozell III, the center's founder. He defended the awards as focusing needed attention on stunning mainstream news media bias and unfairness, fulfilling the center's goals to bring "political balance and responsibility to the media."

Bozell then introduced a video compilation of the best news coverage and commentary on and after Sept. 11, when terrorists in the name of Islam attacked the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon. Rather and Geraldo Rivera, frequent targets earlier in the evening, were honored for poignant reflections during "live" coverage of a day of infamy. Bozell said it was only proper to lift up powerful and positive reporting as an antidote to the normal fare of liberal bias in television journalism.

Judging the competition were well-known conservative and libertarian journalists or analysts, including Bozell, Fund, Thomas, columnist Robert Novak, National Review writer Kate O'Beirne and others. The gala "dishonors" awards dinner is a relatively recent project at the MRC. The event grew out of and builds on the annual "Notable Quotables" competition, for which I still serve as judge. Columns drawn from the 2001 "quotables" appeared here recently. Much of the organizational work for the competition is performed by Brent Baker, a veteran critic of the national press corps.