Notable Quotables - 05/17/1999

Jacking Up Jesse Jackson

"Finally Reverend Jackson, in light of this diplomatic success, will you now reconsider your decision not to run for President in the year 2000?"
- Tim Russert to Jesse Jackson on the phone after his success at freeing the POWs, May 2 Meet the Press.

"The release of the three U.S. soldiers held prisoner by Serbia was a happy surprise this weekend, but it shouldn't have come as a complete shock given the record of the man who was leading the religious delegation to Belgrade, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who has done this before. In fact, as you'll see in our In Private, he's made a career of using personality, publicity and a little moral suasion to forge unlikely alliances. His specialties: the bold gesture, the blizzard of words, confusing natural enemies by engaging them in public....Today the maverick without portfolio is still pushing for the rights of the poor and working class, but the techniques are more sophisticated.... Today he goes straight where the money is, trying to persuade Wall Street and big corporations that to free people from the prison of poverty serves everyone, everyone."
- ABC's Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America, May 3.

Brian Williams: "Again, Howard, bottom line. No other American was able to do what Jesse Jackson did. Doesn't the American political system need a Jesse Jackson?"
Howard Fineman, Newsweek: "He is a safety valve. I said a lord of chaos, but also a safety valve. And listen, the jokes about Jesse Jackson have gone on for years. I've covered him for fifteen years. You know, the old joke is that there is no more dangerous place in America than between Jesse Jackson and a microphone, but he's got guts. And he's got a lot of guts, more than most politicians and most leaders in this country are willing to show. He took a physical risk over there, as Andrea reported, and he did it bravely and he did it well."
- Exchange on MSNBC's News with Brian Williams, May 3.

Margaret's Schoolyard Cheap Shot

"Republicans are betting that this too will pass, that as with Jonesboro and Paducah, Pearl and Springfield, once the white coffins are in the ground and the cameras gone, the outrage will subside. But maybe not this time. In town meetings and talk radio, the public has had its fill of politicians talking resignedly about our gun culture, as if there's nothing to be done about a subgroup that finds schoolyard massacres an acceptable cost for its right to be armed to the teeth."
- Time columnist Margaret Carlson, May 10 issue.


Bedeviled by Zealots

"Two candidates born to the purple; Albert, son of Albert, a martyred southern liberal. George, son of George, a martyred conservative, done in, in part by zealots of his own persuasion.....The GOP establishment doesn't just want to take back the White House, they also want to take back their party from the zealots and cranks who let Clinton drive them over the edge, who abandoned the center to Clinton and Gore. Bush, however, is a sensible fellow."
- CNN political analyst Bill Schneider, May 5 Inside Politics.


Gun Control Now! Who Cares If it Actually Works?

"Since there are 200 million guns already out there, I don't think that gun control is going to have much impact. But I think we ought to do it anyway just to make a statement as a society, and even if you save a couple of lives, then it's worth it."
- Evan Thomas, Newsweek's Assistant Managing Editor, May 1 Inside Washington.

"Whatever is being proposed is way too namby-pamby. I mean, for example, we're talking about limiting people to one gun purchase, or handgun purchase a month. Why not just ban the ownership of handguns when nobody needs one? Why not just ban semi-automatic rifles? Nobody needs one."
- Time National Correspondent Jack E. White, same show.


Hockenberry on Monicagate

"Isn't it a little disheartening to you, here we are having this discussion [about Kosovo], and the Republicans a week or so ago were having a party for the House Managers in the Clinton impeachment. Is that as ridiculous as you can imagine?"
- MSNBC's John Hockenberry to Bay Buchanan, May 6.

"During the Cold War, the media had its central story where everything was at stake, with all kinds of terrifying characters. The media today was created around that single story, a narrative that was followed day after day without a lot of questioning about whether it was really important or newsworthy. And so now that the Cold War is gone, you've seen disarray in virtually every institution in America, and no more disarray than in the media. We lost our story. So when a story like Lewinsky comes up, the media sort of goes back to square one, and theres a 'Yes, now we know what to do' attitude about it."
- Hockenberry in an interview with the leftist magazine Mother Jones, May/June 1999 issue.

NBC's Unease with Gun Culture

"Let's bring the access of guns into this, Michael. I mean, in the city, guns, in my opinion, are seen as the tools of the criminal. But in many rural and suburban areas, guns are more part of the sporting culture. You see people with hunting rifles on their walls. You see people with gun racks in their car. Is that to blame?"
- Today co-host Matt Lauer to Michael Guzy of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, April 30.

"Ollie [North] mentions the prevalence of guns. If you look at these shooting instances, they all seem to have taken place in areas where there is a stronger gun culture. The sheriff himself said, the sheriff out there in Littleton said his community is awash in guns. What do we do about that?"
- Today co-host Jack Ford to Rev. Jesse Jackson, April 24.

"That smells of bullsh...How much longer are we gonna take that? How much longer are we gonna be wrapping in the flag of patriotism to justify 250 millions guns out there? How much longer?"
- Geraldo Rivera responding to video clip of NRA chief Charlton Heston, May 3 Rivera Live on CNBC.


Totally Support Clinton

"Moonves was to receive an award Tuesday, and Dan Rather was to present it. 'But he's still in Belgrade. That's more important,' Moonves said. He added, 'I think we're doing the right thing. I totally support the President.'"
- USA Today's Jeannie Williams in a May 5 column noting what CBS President Leslie Moonves said at a fundraiser in New York for the Red Cross's "Help Now" toll-free number.



"U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson announced several new layers of nuclear security. This was done after China got stolen U.S. nuclear weapons secrets amid lax security and bungling at U.S. weapons laboratories. This goes back all the way into the Bush and Reagan years, but possibly has gotten worse during the Clinton administration."
- Dan Rather on the May 11 CBS Evening News.


Chinagate Spins

"Eased Export Controls Aided Beijing's Missile Technology."
- Headline over May 7 Washington Times story on a report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.


"Less Than 10% of China's $300,000 Went to DNC, Report Indicates."
- Washington Post headline for story on same report, May 7.


How Slobo Could Kill Smarter

"If Milosevic had really been a PR genius, Chris, what, he would have not ethnic cleansed at the time he did. Imagine if he had just gone down into a fetal position, a kind of crouch, let NATO bomb him. Then he would have been able to go to the world and portray Clinton and NATO as real bad guys. Basically, then they would have had to stop the bombing and at that point, he could have slowly ethnic cleansed. So he was not smart as a PR guy."
- Newsweek's Jonathan Alter on CNBC's Hardball, May 3.


Another Vast Geraldo Conspiracy

"Do you not have some problems with the fact that for example Julie Hiatt Steele was charged with this crime on the very day the President's Senate trial began. I mean doesn't that seem to you that Ken Starr was trying to influence the course of the impeachment process. That all this is about gamesmanship."
- CNBC's Geraldo Rivera to Wall Street Journal editorial writer John Fund, May 4 Rivera Live.


Television: The Healing Box?

"We as a nation send messages, we send flowers, but maybe more important is what we don't send. It's what we hold to ourselves, a feeling that they are we. Sometimes that's a painful realization. We lost our collective innocence in Oklahoma, learning that our own sons, not some terrorist from a far off land, our own sons could carve out such a huge wound in our hearts. We sat at home and joined hands in mourning with people weve never met, through television, the healing box.

"There are echoes of Oklahoma here. Distance is no shield. Pictures and sound bounce off the sky and are immediately in our living rooms for us to share, to come together, at least in spirit, if not in person. [Princess Diana] was our princess, too, and the day we buried her, we felt like we were witnessing the end of beauty. What is the difference between Kensington Palace and Littleton, Colorado? In times like these, there is none."
- ABC Good Morning America national correspondent Don Dahler reflecting on TV's impact in coverage of tragedies like Littleton, April 30.


...Or The Exploiting Box?

"Finally, this evening, opportunism. There's nothing new about some people trying to take advantage of other people's tragedy. The Internet simply adds a new dimension to it."
- Peter Jennings introducing another Littleton story (about Web sites inserting Littleton-related terms to attract search engines) after nine days of non-stop ABC coverage, April 28 World News Tonight.


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