Honest Abe vs. King Henry V
"He [John Kerry] also could make a virtue, it seems to me, of the so-called flip-flopping. The greatest flip-flop in American history is Lincoln, [who] in his first Inaugural was not for emancipation and then two years later he was. Is that statesmanship or is that a flip-flop?"
-Newsweek Managing Editor Jon Meacham during live coverage on MSNBC before the first presidential debate on September 30.
"Bush kept saying, 'I know how this world works. I know how to deal with these guys.' This was a man who was almost monarchial in his tone and he, you know, we talked before about he became Henry V and this was, and this was a kind, there was almost an element of self-pity there."
-Meacham on MSNBC shortly after the debate.
Kerry Fixed Flip-Flopper Flaw
"Whether you agree with him or disagree with him, you now know where John Kerry stands on what has happened in Iraq."
-CBS's Bob Schieffer discussing Kerry's performance in the first debate on the October 1 Early Show.
"I wonder if stylistically he [Kerry] helped himself even more than substantively, if by appearing calm and confident, for the most part, during this debate. He answered the flip-flopper charge with his demeanor even more than with his words."
-ABC's George Stephanopoulos during live coverage immediately following the September 30 debate.
Can't Fight Media's "Unanimity"
"I initially thought that it was pretty much of a tie, but I was quickly informed I was wrong and that Kerry had won."
-Newsweek's Evan Thomas on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, October 4.
"I have tried to read a vast array of comments and interpretations of the debate this morning, and I am still looking for a newspaper editorial or talking head who declared that Bush won the debate. This represents a rare degree of unanimity among the chattering and commenting classes, in my experience....As of this morning, there is a powerful consensus that John Kerry beat the President last night."
-Veteran Washington Post editor Robert G. Kaiser on October 1 in an introductory observation before beginning an online chat with Post readers about the previous evening's presidential debate.
CBS: "Scary" Cheney Blew It
"Vice President Cheney had an image problem to overcome. Going into tonight's debate, nearly 60 percent of the uncommitted voters we surveyed said they did not personally like him. When asked how they'd feel if Cheney became President, 24 percent said scared."
-CBS's Anthony Mason during live coverage of the vice presidential debate on October 5, reporting the sentiments of CBS's sample of 178 uncommitted voters, who selected Edwards as the debate winner.
"The Vice President tonight had the unfortunate task of defending a war that does not appear to be going very well these days, on the very day that the former top civilian official in Iraq was making a speech saying that we went about it in the wrong way....The administration has got to find another way to argue and justify this war. The arguments that Vice President Cheney was making tonight clearly did not take."
-Bob Schieffer during CBS live coverage after the vice presidential debate, October 5.
Foul-Mouthed Dick, Sunny John
"Republican [Vice President Dick] Cheney, portrayed by critics as the dark architect of the Iraq war, and Democrat [Senator John] Edwards, the sunny Southerner with the homespun style, meet [tomorrow] in a 90-minute televised encounter....Cheney and Edwards are polar opposites as politicians. The bald, bespectacled Cheney, 63, is a dour campaigner with a lengthy government and national security resume, who not too long ago swore at a Democratic Senator on the Senate floor. The energetic and articulate Edwards, 51, is a first-term Senator who was once named People magazine's sexiest politician and is known for his optimism and populist rhetoric."
-Reuters political correspondent John Whitesides in an October 4 dispatch previewing the next day's debate.
Planning to Promote Kerry "Win"
Newsweek's Jon Meacham: "There is the possibility that President Bush has peaked about a month too early. Because we all need a narrative to change."
Chris Matthews: "Is that your prediction?"
Meacham: "I think it's possible that we're gonna be sitting around saying, Well, you know Kerry really surprised us. Because, in a way, the imperative is to change the story."
-Exchange during MSNBC's live coverage a few minutes before the start of the September 30 debate.
CBS's Dodgy Draft Story
Richard Schlesinger: "Beverly Cocco has spent most of her life protecting children in Philadelphia. She usually worries about other people's kids. But as Election Day approaches, it's her own two grown sons who Beverly is most worried about."
Beverly Cocco: "I go to bed every night and I pray, and I actually get sick to my stomach. I'm very worried. I'm scared. I'm absolutely scared. I'm petrified."
Schlesinger: "Beverly is petrified about a military draft, and she's not alone. Mass e-mails are circulating among worried parents....She's a Republican, but she's also a single-issue voter. Would you vote for a Democrat?"
Cocco: "Absolutely. I would vote for Howdy Doody if I thought it would keep my boys home and safe."
-September 28 CBS Evening News story. Schlesinger failed to mention that Cocco, identified on screen as a Pennsylvania voter, is an activist for People Against the Draft, an anti-war group.
Bush the Real Flip-Flopper
"While Senator Kerry has certainly supplied some raw material for this [flip-flopper] characterization...the President is not without his own, shall we say, changes of mind. Everything from gay marriage to steel tariffs to the constantly shifting rationale for the war in Iraq....So why, when it comes to charges of flip-flopping, is President Bush all Teflon and Senator Kerry all Velcro?"
-Jim Axelrod on the September 23 CBS Evening News.
No Wisecrack, No Insurgency
"The President, in July of 2003, said this, quote, 'There are some who feel like the conditions are such, talking about Iraq, that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on.' Well, the insurgents did come on. Do you think that was a bad choice of words? They've had deadly consequences."
-NBC's Matt Lauer to Bush campaign adviser Karen Hughes on the September 28 Today.
Flash: War Foes Against War
"The fact is, is that things are not going well there [in Iraq]. The President won't concede that, you don't concede that. Even among conservative defense analysts, there's a piece out of the Cato Institute today says, 'I think were losing slowly but steadily. I think were sinking deeper into the sand in Iraq.'"
-CBS's Harry Smith to White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett on the October 1 Early Show. The libertarian Cato Institute opposed the 2003 war in Iraq.
Getting as Nasty as Republicans
"Until recently, Kerry and the Democrats had largely avoided the politics of fear. But as one Kerry advisor said today, the campaign has recently decided it is time to, quote, 'fight fire with fire.'...As one Democrat said today, We're not gonna play touch football when they play tackle."
-ABC's Dan Harris on World News Tonight, Sept. 29.
"Smarter" People Believe CBS
"There is not an honest reporter in the country today, not an honest news organization that hasn't in the last few days, when looking at the story of how the now CBS discredited documents on the President's National Guard service, said 'there but for the grace of God go I,' excepting that some partisans will see it otherwise, will see willful deception on the part of CBS. Smarter and more reasoned heads know better."
-CNN's Aaron Brown, in a commentary about the CBS forged documents scandal, at the start of his 10pm EDT NewsNight program, September 20.
"I've got to say, if Roger Ailes and Fox had done something like this, you know, the world would be on fire, but they didn't. It's CBS that did it."
-Newsweek's Howard Fineman on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, September 22.
Tom Denounces Anti-CBS "Jihad"
"What I think is highly inappropriate is what's going on across the Internet, a kind of political jihad against Dan Rather and CBS News that is quite outrageous because when it comes to fraudulence and forgery and claims that cannot be supported, that's where you see an enormous harm being done, I think, to real discourse in this country....There's an attempt to tee up CBS News, I think, in a greatly exaggerated and disproportionate fashion, and I think it drives too much of what's going on in this country in terms of political discourse."
-NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw at an October 2 New Yorker Festival forum shown on C-SPAN the next day.
"Brent Bozell has, you know, an entire organization devoted to doing as much damage, and I choose that word carefully, as he can to the credibility of the news divisions. And now, on the Left, there are the young bloggers out there ....These three aging white men are stuck somewhere in the middle trying, on a nightly basis, to give a fair and balanced picture of whats going on in the world."
-Brokaw later at the same event, where he appeared alongside CBS's Dan Rather and ABC's Peter Jennings.