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Notable Quotables - 05/08/1995

 

SPECIAL PURVEYORS OF HATE & DIVISION ISSUE

 

Oklahoma City: Conservative Talk Radio's Fault?


"In a nation that has entertained and appalled itself for years with hot talk on the radio and the campaign trail, the inflamed rhetoric of the '90s is suddenly an unindicted co-conspirator in the blast."
- Time Senior Writer Richard Lacayo, May 8.

"Mr. Panetta, there's been a lot of anti-government rhetoric, it comes over talk radio, it comes from various quarters. Do you think that that somehow has led these people to commit this act, do they feed on that kind of rhetoric, and what impact do you think it's had?"
- CBS's Bob Schieffer, April 23 Face the Nation.

"The bombing in Oklahoma City has focused renewed attention on the rhetoric that's been coming from the right and those who cater to angry white men. While no one's suggesting right-wing radio jocks approve of violence, the extent to which their approach fosters violence is being questioned by many observers, including the President....Right-wing talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Bob Grant, Oliver North, G. Gordon Liddy, Michael Reagan, and others take to the air every day with basically the same format: detail a problem, blame the government or a group, and invite invective from like-minded people. Never do most of the radio hosts encourage outright violence, but the extent to which their attitudes may embolden and encourage some extremists has clearly become an issue."
- Today co-host Bryant Gumbel, April 25.

"The Oklahoma City attack on federal workers and their children also alters the once-easy dynamic between charismatic talk show host and adoring audience. Hosts who routinely espouse the same anti-government themes as the militia movement now must walk a fine line between inspiring their audience - and inciting the most radical among them."
- Los Angeles Times staff writer Nina J. Easton, April 26.

"The bombing shows how dangerous it really is to inflame twisted minds with statements that suggest political opponents are enemies. For two years, Rush Limbaugh described this nation as `America held hostage' to the policies of the liberal Democrats, as if the duly elected President and Congress were equivalent to the regime in Tehran. I think there will be less tolerance and fewer cheers for that kind of rhetoric."
- Washington Post reporter David Broder in his April 25 column.

 

Bryant vs. Ollie


Bryant Gumbel: "You angrily denounce [liberal callers], you basically shred them. You do give them an opportunity to speak up but then you shred them in the angriest tones."
Oliver North: "Oh, actually, you know, Bryant, I don't think anybody ought to take themselves as seriously as you do every morning. I don't take myself that seriously..."
Gumbel: "Well, clearly not. Perhaps the oath of office should have been taken more seriously before lying to the government, too."
North: "Well, the fact of the matter is, Bryant, I never lied under oath. That's part of the problem with the liberal media, is they can't get it straight. And the attack piece that was run this weekend in the Washington media market on people like me was irresponsible."
Gumbel: "On people who were convicted like you."
- Exchange on the Today show, April 25.

"This is a guy who lied to his country and betrayed his oath. He can couch it as much as he likes with duties and honor and all that other crap, but that's the plain and simple truth of it. The guy lied, and to sit there and try to seize the moral high ground on anything is absurd."
- Gumbel responding to press interest in the squabble with North, April 26 USA Today.

 

Oklahoma City: Republicans' Fault


"It seems to me that you have angry white men here, sort of in their natural state, and you know, gone berserk...This is the essence of the angry white men taken to some extreme, some fanatic extreme, and I will grant you that. But it's the same kind of idea that has fueled so much of the right-wing triumph over the agenda here in Washington."
- Washington Post reporter Juan Williams on CNN's Capital Gang, April 23.

"To what extent, if any, do you think the political rhetoric to which you just referred has helped cause a climate in which people could go in that direction? In other words, the rhetoric which says, not just against big government, or liberal government, or dishonest government, but `I'm against government, government is the enemy?'"
- Sam Donaldson to Morris Dees, April 23 This Week with David Brinkley.

"Unless Gingrich and Dole and the Republicans say `Am I inflaming a bunch of nuts?', you know we're going to have some more events. I am absolutely certain the harsher rhetoric of the Gingriches and the Doles...creates a climate of violence in America."
- Columnist Carl Rowan, April 25 Washington Post story.

"Public antagonism toward government has been one of the principal themes of American political discourse for nearly two decades, growing in shrillness in the past year. This sentiment has been voiced and amplified by the new Republican House, which just this month completed its 100 days of action, much of it aimed at paring back the growth of the federal government. But now that an attack on a government building has left scores dead, including children, the allure is coming off the anti-government rhetoric."
- Boston Globe Washington Bureau Chief David Shribman in a front-page "news analysis," April 25.

"If the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing really view government as the people's enemy, the burden of fostering that delusion is borne not just by the nut cases who preach conspiracy but also to some extent by those who erode faith in our governance in the pursuit of their own ambitions."
- Time Senior Political Correspondent Michael Kramer, May 1.

"Who has played the politics of paranoia better in this country in the last twenty or thirty years? Answer? Republican Party...Politically, starting with Richard Nixon in 1968, the Republicans have very skillfully exploited fear."
- Newsweek Washington Bureau Chief Evan Thomas on Inside Washington, April 29.


Far Right Republicans = Far Right Militias = Far Right Bombers?


"A champion of the far right, outspokenly anti-abortion and anti-gay rights, Dornan will promote himself as the most pro-family candidate in the field...But he starts from far back in the GOP presidential field, one which already includes hard-right conservative Pat Buchanan."
- CNN's Gene Randall, Apr.12 Inside Politics.

"What do you say to people who say that you are an extremist, that you're a right-winger, that you're a nut, that you're a bomb-thrower?"
- CNN's Bernard Shaw interviewing Dornan, same program.

"From political stage far right, accompanied by his wife, five children, and nine grandchildren, 62-year-old Robert Dornan casts himself in the role of White House contender."
- Gene Randall, next day's show.

"He [Dole] does seem to be, excuse me for the word, pandering to the extreme right of the Republican Party. Is that a fair accusation?"
- CNN's Wolf Blitzer to conservative David Keene, April 15 Inside Politics.

Tom Brokaw: "Of course Dornan isn't the only Republican in the party pushing the party ever farther to the right. And as NBC's Gwen Ifill reports tonight, that could present the GOP with some tricky problems."
Ifill: "There's a war being waged within the Republican Party as conservatives fight among themselves over pushing their party even further to the right."
- NBC Nightly News, April 13.

"From my pickup it sounds like you've lost a lot of your far-right support."
- New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman to Phil Gramm on CBS's Face the Nation, April 16.

"Is it realistic to think that angry white males and far-right extremists, who are now so politically active, would ever vote for a black man for President, no matter how qualified?"
- Today co-host Bryant Gumbel to U.S. News & World Report Senior Writer Michael Barone on a Colin Powell presidential run, April 18.

 

Precisely Who Has the Hateful Tone?


"From the pronunciamentos out of Washington, you'd think the new Congress were a slash-and-burn Khmer Rouge."
- CBS Sunday Morning TV critic John Leonard, January 8.

"You called Gingrich and his ilk, your words, `trickle-down terrorists who base their agenda on division, exclusion and fear.' Do you think middle-class Americans are in need of protection from that group?"
- Bryant Gumbel to House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, January 4 Today.

"I think there's a big difference when people told Father Aristide to sort of moderate his views, they were concerned about people being dragged through the streets, killed and necklaced. I don't think that is what Newt Gingrich has in mind. I think he's looking at a more scientific, a more civil way of lynching people."
- NPR reporter Sunni Khalid on C-SPAN's Journalists Roundtable, October 14, 1994.

"I have no doubt that if Rush Limbaugh or Pat Robertson or Ollie North ever got real power, there would be concentration camps and mass death."
- Radical poet Allen Ginsberg in The Progressive, August 1994.

"Rejecting the House's gentlemanly ways, he waged such constant guerrilla war against the Democrats he was attacked for McCarthyism....Gingrich himself, bombastic and ruthless, would be the most dramatic change imaginable, a change the administration can only dread."
- CBS reporter Eric Engberg, November 2, 1994 Evening News.

"The Republican jihad against the poor, the young and the helpless rolls on. So far no legislative assault has been too cruel, no budget cut too loathsome for the party that took control of Congress at the beginning of the year and has spent all its time since then stomping on the last dying embers of idealism and compassion in government."
- Former NBC News reporter Bob Herbert, February 25 New York Times column.

"The noises coming from [Rep. Sonny] Bono and many of his fellow Republican signers of House Speaker Newt Gingrich's `Contract with America' signal a radical shift in Congress' attitude toward environmental issues - a shift that may bode ill for the health of snail darters, spotted owls, and even the human species."
- Time reporter Dick Thompson in a February 27 story headlined "Congressional Chain-Saw Massacre: If Speaker Newt Gingrich gets his way, the laws protecting air, water and wildlife may be endangered."

"Let's face it: to most African Americans Newt Gingrich is one scary white man....One can only hope Gingrich was sincere in his speech to Congress last week....That could mean Gingrich is serious about shedding his party's whites-only image. If so, blacks ought to meet him halfway - if only to temper the wilder impulses of one very scary white man."
- Time national correspondent Jack E. White, January 16.

"The U.S. House of Representatives is now to be led by a world-class demagogue, a talented reactionary in the vengeful tradition of Gov. George Wallace and Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Like Wallace before him, Newt Gingrich evokes the nation's boiling anxieties as a rancid populism of `us vs. them,' though he is too shrewd to make the racial resentments explicit. Like Joe McCarthy, Gingrich depicts his adversaries not simply as mistaken in their political views but as sick, traitorous people who are invidiously subverting the national character."
- Former Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor William Greider in the December 29, 1994-January 12, 1995 Rolling Stone.

"Rush Limbaugh is the king. He is also a cretinous liar, with off-the-wall opinions. And he has the audacity to call himself a journalist."
- CNN's Peter Arnett quoted by John Corry in The American Spectator's May issue.

"A lot of people are afraid of you. They think you're a bomb-thrower. Worse, you're an intolerant bigot. Speak to them."
- Sam Donaldson to Newt Gingrich on This Week with David Brinkley, November 13, 1994.

 

Earth to AP...


"No one is suggesting Clinton is using the tragedy for political opportunity."
- Associated Press reporter Tom Raum in the April 28 Richmond Times-Dispatch, four days after Clinton criticized radio talk show hosts.

 

Kind-Hearted Media Evaluations Through the Years


"Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it."
- New York Times editorial page editor (and former Washington Bureau Chief) Howell Raines in his 1993 book Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis.
[Clarification, November 2003: It has come to our attention that while the sentence, "Reagan couldnt tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it, appeared on page 84 of the book by Raines, it came in the midst of a multi-paragraph quote in a chapter in which he favorably recited the comments on things great and small (during a fishing venture to Hunting Creek near Thurmont, Maryland), from his companion on the trip, Dick Blalock.
The paragraph in full from which the quote came: "'See that pool?' said Dick. 'That was Jimmy Carter's favorite pool when he was President Were only about a mile from Camp David. The Fish and Wildlife Boys kept the stream lousy with big brood fish from the hatcheries when he was up here. I knew a guy who used to slip in and give every big trout in the stream a sore lip whenever he heard Carter was coming. Of course, I liked Carter. Charlie Fox and Ben Schley taught him a lot about fishing, and he ties a good fly. Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it.'" We regret the confusion.
The other quotes from the book attributed to Raines, in various MRC articles, are accurate: Then one day in the summer of 1981 I found myself at the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine. I was a correspondent in the White House in those days, and my work - which consisted of reporting on President Reagans success in making life harder for citizens who were not born rich, white, and healthy - saddened me." And, recalling 1981: "My parents raised me to admire generosity and to feel pity. I had arrived in our nations capital during a historic ascendancy of greed and hard-heartedness."]

"On the road I travel to the mall in Wheaton, Md., two white men severely beat two black women Tuesday. One was doused with lighter fluid, and her attacker tried to set her afire. Both men cursed the women for being black. I couldn't help but shudder: That could have been me. This heinous act happened only hours after Pat Buchanan voters gave him 30 percent of the vote in the Maryland GOP presidential primary."
- USA Today columnist and then "Inquiry" page Editor Barbara Reynolds, March 6, 1992.

"You place responsibility for the death of your daughter squarely at the feet of the Reagan Administration. Do you believe they're responsible for that?
- NBC reporter Maria Shriver interviewing AIDS sufferer Elizabeth Glaser, July 14, 1992 Democratic convention coverage.

"After eight years of what many saw as the Reagan Administration's benign neglect of the poor and studied indifference to civil rights, a lot of those who lived through this week in Overtown [rioting in a section of Miami] seemed to think the best thing about George Bush is that he is not Ronald Reagan....There is an Overtown in every big city in America. Pockets of misery made even meaner and more desperate the past eight years."
- Reporter Richard Threlkeld on ABC's World News Tonight, January 20, 1989.

"So I think [Ronald Reagan] is going to have to pass two or three tests. The first is, will he get there, stand in front of the podium, and not drool?"
- Sam Donaldson on a planned Reagan press conference, NBC's Late Night with David Letterman, March 18, 1987.

 

Julianne Malveaux: Angry Black Female


"Angry white males? The rest of us are angry too, but we don't go to those extremes."
- Pacifica talk show host Julianne Malveaux on PBS's To the Contrary, April 28.

vs.

"Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan calls those who hit the streets `looters and lynchers.' President Bush calls them criminals. I call them freedom fighters....I not only accept the rebellions in Los Angeles, I identify with them."
- Malveaux on the riots, which caused 53 deaths and more property damage than the Oklahoma City bombing (5,000 buildings destroyed), in a May 10, 1992 San Francisco Examiner column.

"There are some reasons why people do rightfully distrust government. There are some reasons why when you say the FBI needs more protection, there are some people who are going to say remember COINTELPRO. The movie Panther comes out this week, and it was back down memory lane for me. To see the way our government infiltrated an organization and caused the deaths of so many thousands of people."
- Malveaux, April 28 To the Contrary.

"I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease....Well that's how I feel. He is an absolutely reprehensible person."
- Malveaux on Justice Clarence Thomas, November 4, 1994 PBS To the Contrary.

 

More Dangerous Than Rush Limbaugh: Homer Simpson (Doh!)


"In the wake of the Oklahoma bombing, President Clinton talked about reckless speech that can push people over the edge. The President has set off a debate about social responsibility, especially when it comes to what we hear on the radio and see on television. By coincidence, the season ender for the Fox animated show The Simpsons is about an evil boss who is the victim of attempted murder. Matt Groening is the creator and executive producer of The Simpsons. He joined us this week from Los Angeles and we talked about the finale that raises questions about angry words and consequences....The show has a reputation for irreverent comedy and you're no stranger to offending people, but this time have you crossed the line? Are you telling angry, fearful people that it's OK to shoot your boss?...Is [Clinton] talking about you and The Simpsons?"
- Questions from Fox Morning News co-anchor Lark McCarthy, April 28.

 

- L. Brent Bozell III, Publisher;
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