Notable Quotables - 09/13/2004

Special Edition: The Liberal Media vs. The GOP


GOP "May Be Right" About Bias

Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham: "The work of the evening, obviously, is to connect George W. Bush to the great war leaders of the modern era. You're going to hear about Churchill projecting power against public opinion...."
MSNBC's Chris Matthews: "But Iraq was a popular cause when he first started it. It wasn't like Churchill speaking against the Nazis."
Meacham: "That's not the way the Republican Party sees it. They think that all of us and the New York Times are against them."
Matthews: "Well, they're right about the New York Times and they may be right about all of us."
-Exchange shortly after 8:30pm EDT during MSNBC's live convention coverage, August 30.


Beware of Angry Republicans

"Democrats might now question their strategy of having been polite to the President at their convention, for Republicans showed no such reluctance last night. The keynote speaker, Democratic Senator Zell Miller....Miller all but questioned Kerry's patriotism, citing Kerry votes against weapons systems....The Vice President, in his acceptance speech, was milder by comparison, but just by comparison....The Vice President and Senator Miller pounded and pounded and pounded. It may have been very effective politics; it was not subtle."
-ABC's Charles Gibson on Good Morning America September 2, recounting the speeches from the night before.

"The Vice President was very, very tough, but Zell Miller was on a tirade. I mean, he was red faced, red meat for the red states."
-ABC's George Stephanopoulos on the same program a few moments later.

"They're having all these moderate speakers, but the moderate speakers, we discussed last night, aren't giving moderate speeches, they're giving speeches in which they're echoing a lot of this red meat. This is a very angry convention, it's a very belligerent convention. I mean, I've covered 16 conventions....I've never heard such an angry speech [as Zell Miller's]."
-CNN political analyst Bill Schneider on NewsNight with Aaron Brown, September 1.


GOP's Convention "Con Game"

"The President's team knows that it can't get back to the White House by taking only hard right turns, so it has, as three of its featured speakers, Republicans who have been successful by navigating the middle of the road as well the right-hand side: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudy Giuliani and Senator John McCain who often calls himself John Kerry's best friend in the U.S. Senate. Streetwise New Yorkers may call that the political equivalent of a popular con game in this tough town - three-card monte. But then, that's a game in which the dealer almost always wins."
-Tom Brokaw ending the August 29 NBC Nightly News.

"The Republican convention opens in New York to renominate George W. Bush and showcase the party's, quote, 'moderate side.' Will voters buy it?"
-Dan Rather opening the August 30 CBS Evening News.

"Even as the cast members swing to the right, Republicans will carefully keep the script aimed straight down center stage, a production critics say is meant to mask the deeper plot line of this Republican show a party platform calling for constitutional amendments against both abortion and same sex marriage, a ban on so-called civil unions for gays, and limits on stem cell research."
-CBS's John Roberts on the Sept. 1 Evening News.

"What you won't see from the stage tonight is the unhappiness of some of these delegates over the partys platform on gay marriage and civil unions."
-NBCs' Tom Brokaw on the August 31 Nightly News.

"In prime time this week, what one GOP insider calls its moderate stars McCain, Giuliani and Schwarzenegger. All have huge public approval ratings, but all sharply disagree with the party's platform on issues like abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage. Democratic critics say the President is using these moderates to pull a fast one on middle-of-the-road voters."
-NBC's David Gregory on the August 30 Nightly News.

"Can the Republicans get away with putting these moderate speakers up there?"
-CNN's Judy Woodruff on Inside Politics, August 31.

Bush Omits Osama, Compassion

"He hopes to rekindle his year 2000 mantra of compassionate conservatism, a goal his critics say would be a stunning feat given his record of the past three years."
-John Roberts previewing President Bush's convention speech, September 2 CBS Evening News.

"You're also going to hear the words 'compassionate conservative' escape the Presidents lips for the first time in quite a while. That was the mantra that he wore in the 2000 election, a mantra that he believes helped him win that election, so he is going to try to adopt that again in the 2004 campaign, though some critics would probably say it's a mantra that rings pretty hollow considering some of the policies that his government has pursued."
-Roberts during CBS's live coverage, September 2.

"It is interesting to note though, Dan, he seems to have completely forgotten about Osama bin Laden who remains at large. There was no talk about him. Also no talk about a couple of the other great challenges facing America on the international stage, and those are the problems with nuclear programs in both Iran and North Korea."
-Roberts a few moments after Bush's speech, Sept. 2.


No Place for "Moderate Women"

"You and Olympia Snowe, the other Senator from Maine, are known as moderate Republican women. You have no place in this convention. The platform does not seem to speak to a lot of women in this country. It's anti-abortion, it does not expand stem cell research, on other social issues in which women have some interest, for example, gay unions, is formally opposed to that. Do you think that this platform and this party is doing enough to reach out to moderate women across the country?"
-NBC's Tom Brokaw to Senator Susan Collins on his 4pm EDT MSNBC show Brokaw in New York, August 31.

Moderator Tim Russert: "Harry Truman said it this way: 'To me, party platforms are contracts with the people, and I always looked upon them as agreements that had to be carried out.' There's no possible way that you, or the Mayor of New York, or the Governor of New York, or John McCain or Arnold Schwarzenegger, the prime-time speakers, agree with this party platform, which led the head of the Log Cabin Republicans to say this: You can't craft a vicious, mean-spirited platform, then try to put lipstick on the pig by putting Rudy Giuliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger on in prime time."
Rudy Giuliani: "Which am I, the pig or the lipstick?"
-Exchange on NBC's Meet the Press, August 29.


Compassion = Liberal Position

"There are moderates in your party who say, here we are at a convention where tonight the theme is compassion and we're talking about banning gay marriage. Is that a compassionate stance?"
-MSNBC's Chris Jansing to a GOP delegate, August 31.


Disdaining Dark Dick Cheney...

"One of the obstacles for Dick Cheney tonight is the fact that he has become a dark figure....There are those who believe that Dick Cheney has led this administration and this President down a path of recklessness, that maybe his approach, his dark approach to this constant battle against another civilization, is actually the wrong approach for ultimately keeping America safe."
-NBC White House reporter David Gregory during live convention coverage on MSNBC about 8:30pm EDT on September 1, about two hours before Cheney spoke.

...And Apoplectic Over Angry Zell

"As he was talking, I was getting e-mails saying, 'you know, this reminds me of Houston, 1992 - Pat Buchanan.' Now, Zell Miller is no Pat Buchanan, but it was a very, very hot speech, not likely to convince, as I said before, many of the unconvinced."
-George Stephanopoulos during ABC's live coverage, September 1.

"Zell Miller's speech was a red meat speech, in fact a raw meat speech, which in fact misstates a lot of Kerry's record, but draws some very tough conclusions."
-NBC's Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, September 1.


Now They Care About Zell's Past

"Well he was chief of staff to [Governor] Lester Maddox when he was, Lester Maddox is an axe-handle wielding segregationist. He opposed the Civil Rights Act of '64, he opposed the Voting Rights Act that came later. He is an old-time seggie who has changed like most people. I'm not gonna hold that against him except to say that's where his roots are."
-MSNBC's Chris Matthews during live GOP convention coverage around 7pm on September 1, about three hours before Miller spoke.

"Zell Miller's speech was a speech of hate, it was a speech of venom. This is a man who started his political career with Lester Maddox and last night he imitated Lester Maddox. Lester Maddox, as we all know, was a segregationist but he was a man of hate. Zell Miller is not a segregationist, not that at all....[But] I grew up in the South, I've seen the face of anger, I've seen the face of hatred....There are lines in politics and that speech went over the line."
-U.S. News & World Report Editor-at-Large David Gergen during MSNBC's live coverage, September 2.

"The big loser was Bob [Novak]'s winner, Zell Miller, whose substantive achievements as Governor in education and the like will be forever overshadowed by the bookends of hatred: His start as a racist in the '60s, and that vicious, mean-spirited speech. What's he so angry about? This is a man who's really got some trouble. Chris Dodd and his Senate colleagues said, you know, I expected after hearing him for a couple minutes, I thought he'd bring out an axe."
-Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt on CNN's Capital Gang, September 5.


No Purple Heart Jokes Allowed

"This is a man [John Kerry] who went and served his country. Do you feel as though you're making fun of him?...One of the things that the criticism of this is, that there are, you know, kids over in Iraq right now, some of them getting Purple Hearts. Is this defaming of them?"
-CNN's Candy Crowley to a GOP delegate wearing a band-aid with a purple heart on it, August 30.

"Virginia Republican committeeman and Karl Rove buddy, Morton Blackwell, distributed fake Purple Hearts on the convention floor Monday to mock Vietnam combat hero John Kerry, another saga in a despicable Republican-led effort which, as Senator John McCain says, smears the medals, ribbons and service of all those who fought in that tragic war."
-The Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt on CNN's Capital Gang, September 5. One delegate CNN showed sporting a Purple Heart band-aid was Tucker Watkins, a Vietnam veteran who served in the 101st Airborne.

"John McCain has talked about these ads raising allegations about John Kerrys military service. He's called it dishonest and dishonorable. Why do you think it's okay to wear a bandage like that?...Do you really believe he didn't earn his medals or his Purple Heart?"
-George Stephanopoulos to GOP delegate Tucker Watkins during live coverage August 30 on ABC News Now, an all-news service available via cable and the Internet.


Bloodshed Without Victory

"With 9/11, the cause was just: War on terrorism....But 'overwhelming victory' remains elusive. The Taliban is still killing Americans, and Osama bin Laden lives to plan another 9/11. In Iraq, a new goal: eliminate weapons of mass destruction the administration insisted threatened America. But there were none. Then the goals started shifting: Get rid of Saddam. And then, something far harder, far fuzzier: Bring democracy to Iraq....The price is being paid in blood - almost a thousand Americans dead, nearly seven thousand wounded....Americans can be forgiven for doubting if the goals are still clear and for worrying that overwhelming victory - indeed, any victory - is something we may never have."
-Barry Petersen on the Sept. 1 CBS Evening News.

"The fact is, more than 800 Americans have died since the President appeared under that Mission Accomplished sign on the aircraft carrier about a year ago or so. Did the President botch the execution of this war?"
-CBS's Harry Smith to White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett on The Early Show, September 2.

"The day after 9/11, there was never a greater outpouring of support and compassion to the United States than in those days....Here we are three years later, and as I mentioned in parts of the Arab world, polls show we have never been more hated."
-NBC's Matt Lauer to President Bush in an interview shown August 30 on Today.


An Economic Record Like Hoover's

John Roberts: "What the President didn't say was that the employment numbers in August again fell short of expectations, and it is now certain he will end his first term as the first President since the Great Depression to lose jobs on his watch....The situation is worse than it seems. While the President touts the results of his economic recovery plan"
Bush: "We have added 1.7 million jobs."
Roberts: "Job creation hasn't kept up with population growth. By that measure, experts say, he is several million more jobs in the hole."
-September 3 CBS Evening News story on the unemployment rate falling to 5.4 percent.

"Today's job numbers, a smaller than anticipated boost in August, loomed large on the campaign trail today. Mr. Bush argued his tax cuts have led to the creation of 1.7 million jobs since last summer. But that's far shy of the 2.6 million jobs the administration promised this year alone."
-NBC's David Gregory on the Sept. 3 Nightly News.


Maybe He Should Quit Now

"By most accounts, by a lot of accounts, Dan, the numbers are not all that much in President Bush's favor. Youve got unemployment. He says 5.5 percent, but the job growth is decelerating. You had more people falling into poverty last year, more people losing health insurance, the stock markets worth less today than it was four years ago. Can he really run on those type of numbers?"
-NBC's Matt Lauer to White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett on Today, September 2.


Joe Klein, Democratic Tool

"The President has taken a very strong, uncompromising, stubborn, and in many cases unwise stand in the war on terrorism and they, the Republicans, feel that the only way to defend that stand is to be as strong and as uncompromising as hes been."
-Time's Joe Klein on CNN's NewsNight, August 30.

"Ive been doing this for a fair number of years and I dont think Ive seen anything as angry or as ugly as [Zell] Millers speech....Not only that, it was wildly inaccurate."
-Klein on CNNs NewsNight on September 1.

Aaron Brown: "Joe, you've great instincts on this. Tell me what you think about the wisdom of Senator Kerry coming out tonight and giving this double-barreled response, if you will, to the attack on him by the Vice President yesterday."
Times Joe Klein: "Well, I think, I think they had to do it. It's about time they did something real. I mean, this is, this convention this week was the exact opposite of the Democratic convention, which, in which the Democrats almost seemed lobotomized because they never made the case against George W. Bush."
-CNN's NewsNight on September 2, shortly before Kerry appeared at a midnight rally in Ohio to declare Bush and Cheney unfit for office.


NBC's Revisionist History

"It is unusual for the opponent to strike back on the night of the acceptance speech of the presidential nominee, but the Democrats I talked to last night, Katie, and this morning through e-mails, they said, 'Finally.' This Swift Boat controversy, the attacks on John Kerry's military record, started one month ago, and Senator Kerry was silent through the month of August."
-NBC's Tim Russert on Today, September 3.


Brian Williams: "Decision 2004: John Kerry, stung by attacks by pro-Bush Vietnam vets, accuses the President of letting them do his 'dirty work.'"
John Kerry: "Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: 'Bring it on!'"
-Opening tease on the August 19 NBC Nightly News.

Pleading With Laura to Stop Ads

"Now that friends and supporters of the President have raised the issue of John Kerry's combat record in Vietnam, do you or do you not think it's fair now for the Kerry people to come back and dig anew into your husbands military service record?"
"Are you worried about a campaign descending into something so nasty that it'd drive the prairie dogs in your home in West Texas back in their holes?"
-Dan Rather to First Lady Laura Bush in an interview shown on the September 2 CBS Evening News.

"Do you or do you not think it's fair that those Swift Boat ads should have attacked his [John Kerry's] combat record, not the stuff after?"
"But I've heard you talk in the past about how you'd like the campaign generally, politics, generally, to be more generous and less nasty. As one of the country's leaders, do you, don't you have a role in trying to damp it down?"
-Peter Jennings to Laura Bush on ABC's World News Tonight, September 2.

Horrified at Anti-Kerry "Lie"

"You see a group of people spend, in fact, not very much money, a small amount of money, go to Washington and peddle this story. It then gets picked up, particularly on cable TV....Now, in the last week, we really can pretty much establish that the allegations made in that first ad are nothing more than a lie. In the first ad. They are a lie. But that has not caught up until now and it has done significant damage to the Kerry campaign."
- NPR's Nina Totenberg on Inside Washington August 28 discussing the Swift Boat Vets' ads against John Kerry.

Are Those American Troops?

"Hillary Clinton, who has presidential ambitions obviously as a Senator from New York, is the first Senator from New York to seek a position on the Armed Services Committee....She's done it effectively. I've got to tell you, the rank-and-file military are really happy with her."
-NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell during MSNBC's live convention coverage on August 30.


Vote for President Dumb-Ass

"If you want a President who operates on his gut and who operates on instinct and belief, as opposed to facts, and who rarely uses his brain and boasts about not reading anything, and once he makes a decision never varies, then vote for George Bush."
-Eleanor Clift on the September 4 McLaughlin Group.


Take That, John Ashcroft!

"What they could be charged with, other than political expression, I do not know."
-ABC's Peter Jennings commenting on the removal of two anti-war protesters from the Republican convention during President Bush's speech on September 2.


Dick Cheney, Mortician-in-Chief?

"I read you once took a psychological profile test, and it said the position you're most suited for is undertaker."
-ABC's Claire Shipman to Vice President Cheney in an interview shown August 31 on Good Morning America.


Signs of a Bush Rout?

"The one thing we'll leave you with tonight was what [Rudy] Giuliani said last night. He, being a great New York Yankees fan, said the Republican Party's future was like the Yankees. Maybe a little glib to conclude with, but tonight the Yankees got beaten by Cleveland, 22 to nothing."
-ABC's Peter Jennings concluding his networks live convention coverage, August 31.


A Liberal Journalist's Nightmare

"The small story of the night from our vantage point - we could see the family box where the youngest Schwarzenegger child kept raising a sign and waving it that said 'Four More Years.' And if you're a parent, you know how to discipline a child through clinched teeth. That's what Democratic mom Maria Shriver was doing throughout."
-NBC's Brian Williams reporting on his former NBC colleauge Maria Shrivers obvious discomfort as her husband, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, spoke at the Republican convention, August 31.