Notable Quotables - 12/08/2003

Bush Trip Can't Hide Iraq Failure

"There's obviously great symbolism to this trip, because it is important for a Commander-in-Chief to come and see his troops. But so is there symbolism in that things are so unstable that he had to sneak in, in darkness, that he never left the airport, that he could only stay two and a half hours?...Isn't there symbolism in the fact that it points up that not much has changed in eight months?"
-ABC's Charles Gibson asking Condoleezza Rice about President Bush's Thanksgiving Day trip to Iraq, on the November 28 Good Morning America.

"Because he did not attend any of the funerals of the fallen soldiers in Iraq, some family members felt he was not showing compassion, or a connection to the suffering that they have felt as a result of this war. Was this trip an effort to blunt that criticism?"
-NBC's Matt Lauer to Rice on Today, Nov. 28. Since the war began, Bush has repeatedly met with hospitalized soldiers and with the families of those killed in Iraq.


Better to Have Bush in Bull's-Eye

"That's just not kosher....Reporters are in the business of telling the truth. They can't decide it's okay to lie sometimes because it serves a larger truth or good cause."
-Former Los Angeles Times reporter Tom Rosenstiel, now the head of Pew's Project for Excellence in Journalism, referring to the fact that reporters did not disclose the President's trip until he had safely left Baghdad, as quoted in the November 28 Washington Post.


Ruing Bush's "Absolute Control"

"Yes, there were certainly security issues involved, but to insist to reporters that they hand in cell phones and pagers and really not be able to discuss this with their bosses, makes me extremely uncomfortable, especially when you juxtapose that with the control that this administration has exerted over image. Think for one minute: We are not allowed to photograph the....coffins arriving at Dover, something they certainly have seen in the past and even in the early days of this war we did. This is a candidate who in 2000 raised more money than anyone in history and yet the press could never go into those fundraisers. So George Bush, from the time he was a candidate in 2000, right on through the Thanksgiving Day, has absolutely controlled, maybe even manipulated the press."
-Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly on Fox News Sunday November 30, commenting on the secrecy surrounding Bushs Baghdad trip.


Scorning "Turkey-Filled Photo-Op"

"Should the White House be in the position of misleading the press about this sort of thing? I mean, it was great for the President to go over there and rally the morale of the troops, but they put out a false story....In retrospect, was the press used here for an elaborate two-hour turkey-filled presidential photo-op?...Well, I should point out, though, that watching all the cable networks on Thursday, the coverage ranged from upbeat to gushing....It sounded like he landed on the moon instead of in Baghdad."
-Host Howard Kurtz questioning fellow Washington Post reporter Mike Allen and Newsweeks Dan Klaidman on CNN's Reliable Sources, November 30.


Terrorists in Iraq? Preposterous!

"The President said during his remarks to the troops, he said: 'You're defeating terrorists in Iraq so we don't have to face them in our own country.' Now, there's no connection between Iraq and 9/11. Why does the President persist in tying those two together?"
-CBS's Harry Smith to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice on the November 28 Early Show.

Just How Badly Are We Losing?

"What are your impressions of the situation in Iraq? How bad is it, in your view?"
-NBC's Katie Couric to New York Senator Hillary Clinton on the December 1 Today.

"U.S. spokesmen here [in Iraq] insist they are not worried. Given how brazen and ruthless their enemies have shown themselves to be, however, it may be time for a reassessment."
-Allen Pizzey on the CBS Evening News, November 24.


Rebuking GOP's "Bitter" TV Ad

Peter Jennings: "The Republican National Committee has produced a very tough political ad which will, potentially, make an already bitter debate about war in Iraq and the campaign against terrorism, even more so...."
Dean Reynolds: "While he never mentions his political adversaries, the President's message, and the printed words - 'retreat,' for example, is written in blood red - leave little doubt that the Democrats are his targets and that those who oppose his policies are soft on terror.... [While] the ad may strike a nerve, it is also clearly a use of the Iraq war and 9-11 for political purposes."
-ABC's World News Tonight, November 21.

Any Moderation = Deal with Devil

"President Clinton made the [Democratic] party more centrist. Did he sell his soul to the devil in order to get more votes, and was that a massive mistake?"
-Katie Couric to Democratic Party strategist James Carville on the December 3 Today.

Extremist, Hardline Majority

"Gay marriage, America's new cultural divide, fueling backlash from conservative groups like Focus on the Family....But this hot-button issue is not just dangerous for Democrats. Swing voters, who frequently decide close elections, are often turned off by extreme rhetoric. Florida's David and Laura Mead are independents who normally lean right, but reject single-issue, hardline rhetoric....This year's trap for the Bush campaign, say political consultants, could be pushing too hard."
-Jim Avila on NBC Nightly News, November 19. A Pew poll found 59 percent of Americans reject gay marriage.


Upset at Democratic Cowards...

"I really don't get this whole debate [on gay marriage]. I'm pro-marriage. I don't care whether it's gays, straights. Anything that promotes commitment between couples, and helps the institution of the family, is a positive thing. Why aren't we for that?...I think the Democrats are a bunch of cowards....I wish they would embrace the logic of their values sentiment and say yes to marriage."
-Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas on Inside Washington, November 22.


...and "Rancid" Republicans

"This epic is, among other things, a searing indictment of how the Reagan administration's long silence stoked the plague of AIDS in the 1980s....Whatever his scripts fictions, it accurately conveys the rancid hypocrisy among powerful closeted gay Republicans in Washington as AIDS spiraled."
-New York Times Arts & Leisure Editor Frank Rich praising HBO's adaptation of the anti-Reagan, pro-gay play Angels in America, November 16.


Turkeys Aren't the Only Victims

"You know there are some American Indians who feel that Thanksgiving should be a day of mourning, not a day of celebration, because of what happened to their people. So how do you want us to think about them?"
-NBC's Ann Curry interviewing Edward Bleier, author of The Thanksgiving Ceremony: New Traditions for America's Family Feast, on the November 24 Today.

Watchdogs "Suffocate Discourse"

"What troubles me is a disturbing trend of using the popular appeal of those [conservative] beliefs in some quarters as cover for a kind of commercial nihilism....They suffocate vigorous discourse, the oxygen of a system such as ours, by identifying those who refuse to conform and encouraging a kind of e-mail or telephonic jihad which is happily carried out by well-funded organizations operating under the guise of promoting fair press coverage....What is so unsettling about the current climate is the ruthless efficiency of the attacks on those who refuse to conform."
-NBC's Tom Brokaw in a November 19 speech at a National Press Club dinner where he was given the 2003 Fourth Estate Award at an event shown live on C-SPAN.


"Facts" True, Except When Not

"Nearly all of the historical facts in the movie can be substantiated and have been carefully researched."
-Showtime CEO Matt Blank in a message to viewers before his network aired The Reagans on November 30.


Applauding a "Respectful" Smear

"There is no reason Showtime's version of The Reagans could not have been broadcast on CBS earlier this month....Anyone eagerly anticipating or dreading a hatchet job on the 40th President is bound to feel confounded. James Brolin's portrayal of Ronald Reagan is uncannily convincing and respectful."
-New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley in a November 30 movie review.


"The film, while not a hatchet job or unrelentingly vicious attack, definitely makes the Reagans rather freakish creatures....There's enough nastiness and character assassination in the film - even without the line about AIDS- to make CBS look wise in pulling it off the network and foolish in having scheduled it in the first place."
-Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales, November 30.

Peter's Pop a Pot Proponent

"I remember one year my father, who was a mischievous fellow, had somehow become embroiled in a row about the legalization of marijuana. This was more than 40 years ago, mind you. We had a fairly important government official as a guest. As a practical joke, my dad wrote smoke pot in cloves on the very large ham. I still give thanks for my fathers sense of humor."
-ABC's Peter Jennings reminiscing about past Canadian Thanksgivings in an article he wrote for Gannett's USA Weekend newspaper supplement, November 23.