Cal Thomas welcomes attendees, the invocation and the pledge of allegiance

Cal Thomas, Larry Kudlow, Tony Blankley Mark Levin, Jack Singlaub, Stan Evans, Linda Chavez, Ken Cribb and Ron Robinson highlighted the presentations and acceptances of MRC’s “2006 DisHonors Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2005,” which were presented on Thursday night, March 30, before an audience of more than 900 packed into the Independence Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt hotel in Washington, D.C.

Following the presentation of the DisHonors Awards videos in five categories (see videos below), a look at several unintentionally humorous clips from network newscasts and the audience picking the Quote of the Year, those in attendance watched a “Tribute to the American Military” video. It was preceded by a “Toast to the Fallen Comrade” and followed by remarks from Herman Cain, the former President of Godfather's Pizza and National Chairman of the MRC's Free Market Project.

Cal Thomas introduces Lawrence Kudlow, also known as “Larry Kudlow, capitalist”

DisHonors Awards winners were selected by a distinguished panel of 17 leading media observers, including Rush Limbaugh, Steve Forbes, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Robert Novak and Mary Matalin, who served as judges.

Cal Thomas, a syndicated columnist and panelist on FNC's Fox Newswatch, served as Master of Ceremonies. Lawrence Kudlow, host of CNBC's Kudlow & Company and National Review Online's economics editor, was the first presenter of nominated video clips, followed by Washington Times Editorial Page Editor Tony Blankley and nationally syndicated radio talk show host Mark Levin.

MRC President L. Brent Bozell III introduced the MRC's tribute to the American military and Colonel Robert Rust (Retired) led a "Toast to the Fallen Comrade." Following the tribute video, Herman Cain delivered inspirational remarks.

In place of the journalist who won each award, a conservative accepted it in jest. Those standing in for the winners: Major General Jack Singlaub (Retired), radio talk show host and conservative commentator Linda Chavez, Ron Robinson, President of the Young America's Foundation, Ken Cribb, President of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and a former Reagan administration official, and author Stan Evans, the founder of the National Journalism Center, who delivered an especially hilarious routine.

The evening began with welcoming remarks from Cal Thomas, an invocation by Reverend Robert Sirico, President of the Acton Institute, and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Colonel Robert Rust (Retired).


Slam Uncle Sam Award

Presentation

Full Presentation for "Slam Uncle Sam Award"

Runners-up

"I just want to say: Who are we? We are people who have always been for inspections of prisons, for some degree of human rights, and now we’re defending neither....We have now violated everything that we stand for. It is the first time in my life I have been ashamed of my country."
NPR’s Nina Totenberg, commenting on a front-page Washington Post report that captured terrorists are being held at undisclosed sites, Inside Washington, November 4

Andrea Mitchell: "It is an iconic picture:
American hostages, hands bound and blindfolded, being paraded outside the U.S. embassy in Tehran by their captors. But has one of those student radicals now become Iran’s newly elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?..."

Brian Williams: "Andrea, what would it all matter if proven true? Someone brought up today the first several U.S. Presidents were certainly revolutionaries and might have been called terrorists at the time by the British Crown, after all."
NBC Nightly News, June 30

And the winner is...

Actress Jane Fonda: "From an historical point of view, they [the Vietnamese] were defending their country. If we had been invaded and an invading force came into this country and divided us in half at the Mississippi River and accused anyone from the west of the Mississippi River who crossed over to east side, either to fight against the invaders or to see their family, the enemy, you know, we would understand why people were fighting and why people from both sides of the Mississippi would be trying to get rid of the invaders, you know. But horrible things happened, horrible things happened in the process of us, of them fighting us because we were there and we shouldn’t have been there [Vietnam]. So, you know, from that point of view, no, they weren’t good guys. They did bad things, just like we did. But we should never have been there."

Host Chris Matthews: "But there were a lot of people, Jane, who are very, a lot of people who are very gung-ho American, very patriotic, thought that war was a mistake at the time and later. But they can’t imagine slipping out of their American skin, their American soul and becoming so objective, as you just were a minute ago, to put yourself above both us and the Vietnamese and saying, ‘I find the Vietnamese were objectively the good guys.’ How do you step out of being an American to make such an objective judgment?"
Exchange on MSNBC’s Hardball on April 15. Fonda was promoting her new book, My Life So Far

Cindy Sheehan Media Hero Award

Presentation

Full Presentation for "Cindy Sheehan Media Hero Award"

Runners-up

"I see her [Hillary Clinton] in — she’s very consistent [in] what she’s always believed. She’s always had strong religious faith. She’s been a strong Methodist. She does have conservative social values on many issues."
U.S. News & World Report Editor at Large David Gergen, on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, February 9

"As was the practice in all that he did, Dan was meticulously careful to be fair and balanced and accurate. When did we stop believing that this is indeed how we all perform our jobs, or try to? When did we allow those with questionable agendas to take the lead and convince people of something quite the opposite? It’s shameful. But I digress."
MSNBC President and former ABC and CNN news executive Rick Kaplan praising ex-CBS anchor Dan Rather on September 19 as the latter received a lifetime achievement award from the National Television Academy, a ceremony televised on C-SPAN on October 1

And the winner is...

Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan: "We’re not going to cure terrorism and spread peace and good will in the Middle East by killing innocent people or — I’m not even saying our bullets and bombs are killing them. The occupation — they don’t have food, they don’t have clean water, they don’t have electricity. They don’t have medicine, they don’t have doctors. We need to get our military presence out of there, and that’s what’s gonna start building good will....I see Iraq as the base for spreading imperialism...."

Host Chris Matthews: "Are you considering running for Congress, Cindy?"

Sheehan: "No, not this time...."

Matthews: "Okay. Well, I have to tell you, you sound more informed than most U.S. Congresspeople, so maybe you should run."
Exchange on MSNBC’s Hardball, August 15

Send Bush to Abu Ghraib Award

Presentation

Full Presentation for "Send Bush to Abu Ghraib Award"

Runners-up

"For many of this country’s citizens, the mantra has been, as we were taught in social studies it should always be, whether or not I voted for this President, he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week. I suspect, also, a lot of his supporters, looking ahead to ‘08, are wondering how they can distance themselves from the two words which will define his government, our government: New Orleans. For him, it is a shame, in all senses of the word. A few changes of pronouns in there and he might not have looked so much like a 21st century Marie Antoinette."
CMSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, September 5 Countdown

"After meeting with Louisiana officials last week, Reverend Jesse Jackson said, quote, ‘Many black people feel that their race, their property conditions and their voting patterns have been a factor in the response.’ He continued, quote, ‘I’m not saying that myself.’ Then I’ll say it: If the majority of the hardest hit victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans were white people, they would not have gone for days without food and water, forcing many to steal for mere survival. Their bodies would not have been left to float in putrid water. They would have been rescued and relocated a hell of a lot faster than this, period....The President has put himself at risk by visiting the troops in Iraq, but didn’t venture anywhere near the Superdome or the convention center, where thousands of victims, mostly black and poor, needed to see that he gave a damn."
Contributor Nancy Giles on CBS’s Sunday Morning, September 4

And the winner is...

CNN’s Jack Cafferty: "What should Karl Rove do if he is indicted?...He might want to, he might want to get measured for one of those extra large orange jump suits, Wolf, because looking at old Karl, I’m not sure that he’d, they’d be able to zip him into the regular size one."

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: "Well, he’s actually lost some weight. I think he’s in pretty good shape."

Cafferty: "Oh, well then, maybe just the regular off the shelf large would handle it for him."

Blitzer: "Yeah. But, you know, it’s still a big if. It’s still a big if."

Cafferty: "Oh, I understand. I’m, I’m just hoping, you know. I love, I love to see those kinds of things happen. It does wonders for me."
CNN’s The Situation Room, October 17

Aaron Brown Memorial Award for Stupidest Analysis

Presentation

Full Presentation for "Aaron Brown Memorial Award for Stupidest Analysis"

Runners-up

"Do I need to be concerned that I’m going to go live with a church family, are they going to proselytize me, are they going to say, ‘You better come to church with me or else, I’m, you know, you’re not going to get your breakfast this morning’?"
Co-host Harry Smith asking author/pastor Rick Warren about church families taking in those displaced by Hurricane Katrina, on CBS’s Early Show, September 6

Reporter Brian Ross: "Mary Mapes was the woman behind the scenes, the producer who researched, wrote and put together Dan Rather’s 60 Minutes report on President Bush’s National Guard service, a report which Rather and CBS would later apologize for airing...."

Ross to Mapes: "Do you still think that story was true?"

Ex-CBS producer Mary Mapes: "The story? Absolutely."

Ross: "This seems remarkable to me that you would sit here now and say you still find that story to be up to your standards."

Mapes: "I’m perfectly willing to believe those documents are forgeries if there’s proof that I haven’t seen."

Ross: "But isn’t it the other way around? Don’t you have to prove they’re authentic?"

Mapes: "Well, I think that’s what critics of the story would say. I know more now than I did then and I think, I think they have not been proved to be false, yet."

Ross: "Have they proved to be authentic though? Isn’t that really what journalists do?"

Mapes: "No, I don’t think that’s the standard."
ABC’s Good Morning America, November 9

And the winner is...

Ted Turner: "I am absolutely convinced that the North Koreans are absolutely sincere. There’s really no reason for them to cheat [on nukes]....I looked them right in the eyes. And they looked like they meant the truth. I mean, you know, just because somebody’s done something wrong in the past doesn’t mean they can’t do right in the future or the present. That happens all the, all the time."

Wolf Blitzer: "But this is one of the most despotic regimes and Kim Jong-Il is one of the worst men on Earth. Isn’t that a fair assessment?"

Turner: "Well, I didn’t get to meet him, but he didn’t look — in the pictures that I’ve seen of him on CNN, he didn’t look too much different than most other people I’ve met."

Blitzer: "But, look at the way, look at the way he’s, look at the way he’s treating his own people."

Turner: "Well, hey, listen. I saw a lot of people over there. They were thin and they were riding bicycles instead of driving in cars, but–"

Blitzer: "A lot of those people are starving."

Turner: "I didn’t see any, I didn’t see any brutality...."
Exchange on CNN’s The Situation Room, September 19

I’m Not a Political Genius But I Play One on TV Award

Presentation

Full Presentation for "I’m Not a Political Genius But I Play One on TV Award"

Runners-up

"Most Republicans who are registered Republicans are decent, honest good people who you have a difference of opinion with. The leadership of the Republican Party are a bunch of sociopathic maniacs who have their lips super-glued to the ass of the conservative right."
Actor Alec Baldwin during an appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, April 1

"The President is a moron! I’m saying it. I don’t care. He’s an idiot. Cheney is evil. I’m sick of, impeach them, get them out! I hate them! I hate them. Get them out. They got to go!...You shouldn’t give any money to religion, religion should be free, what are you sending money to religion for, it’s such BS....What do you watch O’Reilly for? He’s a moron, he’s a fool. O’Reilly’s an idiot! He and Hannity can suck it! I hate those two idiots...It’s disgusting! What is it going to take for you people? Get Bush out! Impeach. Out! Out! Out!"
Actress/comedienne Kathy Griffin on Comedy Central’s Weekends at the DL, September 10

And the winner is...

Rosie O’Donnell: "This President invaded a sovereign nation in defiance of the UN. He is basically a war criminal. Honestly. He should be tried at The Hague. This man lied to the American public about the reasons for invading a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11. And as a Democrat, as a member of this democracy...I feel I have a responsibility to speak out, as does every other person who disagrees with this administration. And it’s scary in a country that you can say something against the President and then worry about your career. That Dan Rather gets taken off CBS News for writing, for saying a report that essentially was true, that George Bush did not show up–"

Geraldo Rivera: "Okay, okay, we get it, we get it!"

O’Donnell: "Okay, there you go. But anyway, it infuriates me."
Exchange on FNC’s At Large with Geraldo Rivera, April 30

Quote of the Year

Presentation

Brent Bozell, joined on stage by Cal Thomas, Tony Blankley, Mark Levin and Larry Kudlow, judge the audience's preference for the Quote of the Year

Winner

Ted Turner: "I am absolutely convinced that the North Koreans are absolutely sincere. There’s really no reason for them to cheat [on nukes]....I looked them right in the eyes. And they looked like they meant the truth. I mean, you know, just because somebody’s done something wrong in the past doesn’t mean they can’t do right in the future or the present. That happens all the, all the time."

Wolf Blitzer: "But this is one of the most despotic regimes and Kim Jong-Il is one of the worst men on Earth. Isn’t that a fair assessment?"

Turner: "Well, I didn’t get to meet him, but he didn’t look — in the pictures that I’ve seen of him on CNN, he didn’t look too much different than most other people I’ve met."

Blitzer: "But, look at the way, look at the way he’s, look at the way he’s treating his own people."

Turner: "Well, hey, listen. I saw a lot of people over there. They were thin and they were riding bicycles instead of driving in cars, but–"

Blitzer: "A lot of those people are starving."

Turner: "I didn’t see any, I didn’t see any brutality...."
Exchange on CNN’s The Situation Room, September 19

Judges

Tony Blankley

Editorial Editor of the Washington Times and McLaughlin Group panelist

Neal Boortz

Atlanta-based nationally syndicated radio talk show host

L. Brent Bozell III

President of the Media Research Center

William F. Buckley, Jr.

Editor-at-Large of National Review

Steve Forbes

President and CEO of Forbes Inc.

John Fund

Columnist for OpinionJournal.com

Sean Hannity

Co-host of FNC’s Hannity & Colmes and an ABC Radio talk show host

Laura Ingraham

Analyst and nationally syndicated radio talk show host

Mark Levin

Nationally syndicated ABC Radio talk show host

Rush Limbaugh

Host of The Rush Limbaugh Show

Mary Matalin

Editor-in-Chief, Threshold Editions

Robert Novak

Chicago Sun-Times columnist and commentator for the Fox News Channel

Kate O’Beirne

Washington Editor of National Review

William Rusher

Distinguished Fellow at the Claremont Institute

Cal Thomas

Nationally syndicated columnist and a panelist on FNC's Fox Newswatch

Walter E. Williams

Syndicated columnist and professor of economics at George Mason University

Thomas Winter

Editor-in-Chief of Human Events


Extra Clips

Mark Levin presented a series of unintentionally humorous clips from network newscasts, including a "Never Used!" post-it on a CBS News Standards guidebook.
Closing Remarks from MRC's L. Brent Bozell III

Press Coverage

Gala ‘dishonors’ liberals

Stephanie Mansfield, The Washington Times


It was a media roast that hit all the right, or rather left, targets: Hollywood, Hillary, Helen Thomas, Jane Fonda, Chris Matthews, Alec Baldwin and Geraldo.

What else but the “2006 DisHonors” awards dinner hosted by the Media Research Center, a watchdog group that monitors outrageous “liberal mainstream media.”

More than 900 guests wined and dined at the Grand Hyatt Thursday night, cheering as the nominees and award winners were announced. The jury — headed by such conservative notables as William F. Buckley Jr., Robert Novak, Rush Limbaugh, Steve Forbes, The Washington Times’ Tony Blankley, Ann Coulter and MRC founder L. Brent Bozell III, chose the most deserving candidates, — including Mr. Matthews, who got the Cindy Sheehan Media Hero Award, and Ted Turner, winner of the “Quote of the Year” prize for his defense of the communist North Korean regime.

The winners weren’t present, of course, and the crowd, emceed by syndicated columnist and “Fox News Watch” panelist Cal Thomas, poked good fun during the often-raucous evening, which has become an annual rite for many leading conservatives.

Stan Evans, founder of the National Journalism Center, brought down the house after accepting an award on behalf of Rosie O’Donnell (who ranted her displeasure with President Bush’s Iraq policy on a television interview with Geraldo Rivera last year).

Admitting he hadn’t watched television “since ‘Baywatch’ was taken off the air,” Mr. Evans noted one of the judge’s comments regarding Miss O’Donnell: “She lights up a room just by leaving it,” then confided to the crowd that Hollywood was preparing a film based on newly discovered information that “Columbus was gay. He was actually trying to find a shorter route to San Francisco.”

Inside The MRC's DisHonors Awards

Brian Montopoli, CBS News


Last Thursday night, Vaughn and I hit Washington DC's Grand Hyatt hotel for the Media Research Center "DisHonors Awards." The Media Research Center is a conservative media criticism outfit – it bills itself as "The Leader in Documenting, Exposing and Neutralizing Liberal Media Bias" – and the Dishonors Awards is their annual gala, a roast of "the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2005."

We descended into the bowels of the hotel around 7 pm, just as the event was starting, and were soon directed to the press table, which was in the back corner of an enormous hall. The press table wasn't full, but I did make some friends there, among them Ian Schwartz, the 18-year-old conservative blogger behind such sites as firedavidgregory.com. Also at my table were David Lat, who co-edits Wonkette, Greg Pierce, who writes the Inside Politics column for the Washington Times, and Mary Katherine Ham, who blogs over at Hugh Hewitt's site. (Here's Ian's write-up of the festivities, and here's Mary Katherine's.) Other mediafolk in attendance were Jeff Gannon, aka James Guckert, the former Talon News White House reporter whose personal and professional life became a major media story last year, and National Review Online's Kathryn Jean Lopez, known to her fans as K-Lo, though both managed to secure better tables than I did. [NOTE: As it turns out, K-Lo did not attend. We were told by a media rep that she was there -- he even told us what table! -- but apparently she couldn't make it. My apologies.]

And tables at the event didn't come cheap – they each sat about 8, and each table, with a few exceptions, cost $2,000. (There were nearly 100 tables in the hall.) Once we settled in, master of ceremonies Cal Thomas, a conservative syndicated columnist and Fox News Channel contributor, did a quick introduction, and then the Rev. Robert A. Sirico offered up a politically charged invocation that railed against the way "truth and goodness are distorted" by the mainstream media, with its "lies that obfuscate decency." After that, everyone recited the pledge of allegiance, which Thomas suggested was an act of rebellion. When it came time to say the words "under God," the crowd got considerably louder.

Then we ate. There weren't any choices for the meal – a big piece of meat was placed in front of everyone, and waiters came around to refill wine glasses. I thought about asking if there was a vegetarian option, just for fun, but thought better of it. (Besides, my steak was pretty damn good. It should be noted here that members of the press did not pay for the food that MRC provided.) As for the event itself, here's how it worked: A presenter would make a little speech about the evils of the MSM, and then show video clips of the nominees in each of the Dishonors Awards categories. There were five categories, with names like the "Cindy Sheehan Media Hero Award" and the "Slam Uncle Sam Award," and three nominees in each category. Each nominated clip would be played on the four giant monitors in the hall – this was largely an event about television news – and then the presenter would announce a winner. Chris Matthews won both of the awards mentioned above; the "Send Bush to Abu Ghraib Award" went to Jack Cafferty, the "I'm Not a Political Genius But I Play One on TV Award" went to Rosie O'Donnell, and the "Aaron Brown Memorial Award for Stupidest Analysis" went to Ted Turner.

Speaking of Turner, both the presenters – CNBC's Larry Kudlow, the Washington Times' Tony Blankley, and talk show host Mark Levin – and those accepting the awards were excessively fond of "no one watches CNN" jokes. (They usually went something along the lines of "each day, literally dozens and dozens of people across the country watch Jack Cafferty…") The low point of the evening was probably the speech by former Secretary of Labor nominee Linda Chavez, who accepted an award "on behalf of" Chris Matthews and claimed that liberals who want Bill Clinton back in the White House should stop rooting for Hillary and throw their support behind Barbara Streisand – because, apparently, that's who Bill is sleeping with these days, hardy har har. She wrapped up by criticizing Matthews for driving a Mercedes, unlike herself, a bit of faux-populism that may not have been exactly the right call considering that she was standing before a group of people in suits and tuxes who'd just paid $250 each for dinner.

Some of the moments spotlighted at the awards were indeed cringeworthy, however, chief among them Turner's argument that North Korea really isn't so bad, because though people he saw there were thin, and rode bikes, he didn't see any brutality. (Wolf Blitzer helpfully pointed out in the interview that a lot of the thin people Turner saw were probably starving.) CBS News came up more than once over the course of the evening, mostly in familiar references to Memogate and Dan Rather, though one has to give the MRCers credit for playing a clip of a "60 Minutes Wednesday" segment on yard sales in which Steve Hartman assured a potential buyer that a CBS News Standards book has "never been used."

But the event got old fast, at least for me. Part of the problem is that it's hard to look at someone like Chris Matthews as emblematic of a vast, left-wing media conspiracy, since the liberals over at Media Matters and other places seem to spend just as much time attacking him as do conservatives. I'm sure Media Matters could have had a nearly identical event, in fact, a gathering of like minded souls laughing at clips ostensibly proving an overwhelming conservative bias and irresponsibility on the part of the media, though it should be noted that there I would have probably have been offered a vegetarian option. In today's era of 24 hour news networks and blurred lines between opinion and news, people operating from both the left and right can easily find enough fodder for an evening of fine wine, fine food, and confirmation of one's own fine, fine opinions.