Ashcroft "Calms the Far Right"; Bush Hit From the Left by CBS, NBC & CNN Reporters; 13th Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting
1) CBS and ABC Friday night highlighted vitriolic liberal opposition to Bush's pick of John Ashcroft for Attorney General while not running any soundbites in his favor. NBC's Brian Williams declared that he "calms the far right politically." Dan Rather asserted Ashcroft is "known for his tough anti-abortion stand" while Christie Todd Whitman "supports abortion rights."
2) Network reporters hit Bush from the left in his press conference. CBS's John Roberts asked about his "willingness to break with... conservatives"; NBC's David Gregory wanted to know if he'd "consider a moratorium on the federal death penalty"; and CNN's Major Garrett pointed out how "some...thought there was some racial motivation behind" Ashcroft's opposition to a judge.
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CBS and ABC pounced Friday night on George W. Bush's pick of Senator John Ashcroft as his Attorney General, immediately highlighting liberal opposition while not running any soundbites in his favor as both raised his fight against the nomination to the federal bench of a black Missouri Supreme Court justice. CBS adopted liberal terminology as Dan Rather told viewers Ashcroft is "known for his tough anti-abortion stand" while New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman, Bush's choice to head the EPA, "supports abortion rights."
Ashcroft "calms the far right politically," declared NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. I haven't had an opportunity to check definitively, but I'm fairly certain no one with NBC News ever said that any Clinton cabinet pick in 1992 "calms the far left politically."
In alphabetical order, here's how the three broadcast networks on Friday night, December 22, handled Bush's first nomination of a conservative for his cabinet:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Peter Jennings
opened the show by stressing liberal opposition:
Reporter Mike von Fremd called Ashcroft the
"most controversial nominee so far" since he will upset
Democrats. After a soundbite of Bush praising Ashcroft, von Fremd picked
very selectively from his voting record: "The American Conservative
Union gives him a top approval rating. He has voted against some tobacco
regulations, against expanding hate crimes legislation and against
allowing abortions in military hospitals. A record that troubles most
Democratic constituencies." Without a syllable from anyone favorable,
von Fremd ran back-to-back negative blasts:
Following a clip of Bush saying he's confident
Ashcroft believes in civil rights and a soundbite from Ashcroft himself
promising to enforce the laws with integrity, von Fremd concluded:
Indeed, since he certainly won't have the media.
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather began: "Good evening. Anti-abortion groups and the self-described Religious Right could not be happier with President-elect George Bush's nominee for U.S. Attorney General. Bush today named John Ashcroft, a just-defeated Republican Senator from Missouri known for his tough anti-abortion stand. Planned Parenthood immediately urged Congress not to confirm him. Bush also named New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, who supports abortion rights, for a post with no role in abortion policy. She was picked to head the Environmental Protection Agency."
John Roberts dubbed Ashcroft the "most
controversial" Bush pick so far as he pointed out how Ashcroft was
"the only politician in modern times defeated by a dead man."
Roberts stressed: "Ashcroft is a darling of the Republican right, but
his strong stance against abortion and his leading role in killing the
appointment of Missouri judge Ronnie White to the federal bench, prompted
a sharp rebuke today from liberal activist groups."
Roberts noted that Democratic Senator Leahy promised not to hold up Ashcroft's nomination but warned that serious questions will be posed to him. Roberts moved on to Whitman and he matched Rather's biased abortion labeling: "The choice of Ashcroft gives Bush a bit of breathing space to go after some moderates. Today he named New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman to head the Environmental Protection Agency. At odds with conservatives over her support for abortion rights, Whitman was seen as too controversial for other cabinet positions that would write social policy."
-- NBC Nightly News. Fill-in anchor Brian Williams led the broadcast by emphasizing Ashcroft's appeal to the "far right" of the GOP: "America's second ever Bush administration is taking shape tonight with the naming of a GOP veteran to a crucial position. If confirmed, conservative Missouri Republican Senator John Ashcroft will be this nation's next Attorney General. With this move Mr. Bush rewards a defeated U.S. Senator, calms the far right politically and makes a decidedly law and order statement."
Reporter David Gregory actually never raised the White case as he observed his appeal to conservatives: "While conservative sources say he is not Bush's first choice, and could face a difficult confirmation battle, this Missouri Republican will go a long way to appease the President-elect's conservative political base."
Gregory also touched on "abortion rights supporter" Whitman: "Even as a small crowd gathers to protest Bush's environmental record as Governor, the President-elect names a moderate Republican, New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman, to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a position Bush announces will carry cabinet rank in his administration. By naming Whitman, an abortion rights supporter, Bush appears determined to strike an ideological balance."
Next, Pete Williams profiled Ashcroft. Williams began: "Today's nomination brings the Bush team its first experienced baritone, member of the Singing Senators quartet. And its first bedrock conservative..."
Three questions from the network big boys, three questions from the left. George W. Bush held a mini press conference Friday morning after he announced John Ashcroft as his choice for Attorney General. Reporters for CBS, NBC and CNN, but not ABC, posed questions and all three came from the left.
CBS's John Roberts pressed Bush about his "willingness to break with the Republican leadership and conservatives in your party"; NBC's David Gregory wanted to know if he'd "consider a moratorium on the federal death penalty"; and CNN's Major Garrett raised Ashcroft's opposition to the nomination of Ronnie White and relayed the liberal spin: "Some criticized that and thought there was some racial motivation behind that."
-- CBS News reporter John Roberts: "You made it a centerpiece of your campaign to reform and upgrade the military, yet it would appear that in an otherwise painless transition you're still having some problems finding a Secretary of Defense. I'm wondering, sir, what can you tell us about the problems that you're experiencing, what of Senator Coats who is said to be a frontrunner among congressional Republicans, and what do your deliberations say about your willingness to break with the Republican leadership and conservatives in your party?"
-- NBC News reporter David Gregory: "The Clinton administration has questioned the fairness of the federal death penalty. Will you consider a moratorium on the federal death penalty and Senator Ashcroft, as incoming Attorney General, is that something you think should be done?"
-- CNN reporter Major Garrett: "In the civil rights community Senator Ashcroft is well known for blocking the elevation to the federal bench of Ronnie White, a Supreme Court justice in Missouri. Some criticized that and thought there was some racial motivation behind that. I'd like you to address that controversy sir and also tell us what the civil rights division of the Department of Justice will do under his leadership different from what Bill Lan Lee has done, who's very much criticized by Republicans in the Senate, including Mr. Ashcroft."
The winning quotes in the MRC's "The Best Notable Quotables of 2000: The Thirteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." The annual end of the year special 8-page edition of NQ is based upon the votes of 46 judges -- radio talk show hosts, columnists, editorial writers, magazine editors and media observers -- who evaluated and ranked quotes in 18 award categories.
To view all the winning quotes as well as the two or three top runners-up and, thanks to Webmaster Andy Szul, RealPlayer video clips for two dozen of the quotes from TV shows, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/bestofnq2000.html 
To see the 8-page issue typeset as snail mail subscribers saw the newsletter, access the Adobe Acrobat PDF version. Go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/news/nq/pdf/bestofnq2000.pdf 
Below are the winning quotes followed by the list of the judges who selected first, second and third place choices in all 18 categories. Point totals are in brackets after each quote. First place picks were assigned three points, second place choices were given two points and third place selections were allocated one point. The MRC elections officer, Kristina Sewell, totaled them up and the numbers withstood a recount and a hand count. Here are the results, starting with the "Quote of the Year" which earned just one more point than the first runnner-up in the category:
Quote of the Year
"Yup, I gotta confess, that now-famous picture of a U.S. marshal
in Miami pointing an automatic weapon toward Donato Dalrymple and ordering
him in the name of the U.S. government to turn over Elian Gonzalez warmed
my heart. They should put that picture up in every visa line in every U.S.
consulate around the world, with a caption that reads: 'America is a
country where the rule of law rules. This picture illustrates what happens
to those who defy the rule of law and how far our government and people
will go to preserve it. Come all ye who
Aiding & Abetting in an Election Theft Award
"Here we will have possibly a bunch of tax dodgers deciding the
Kiss Me, Too, Al Award (for Gore Gushing)
"At the same time, he will have to find a way to disassociate
himself from the President's extremely low personal approval ratings. It
shouldn't be that difficult. Al Gore has been perhaps the most active
Vice President in American history, and there's not a hint of scandal
associated with Gore's personal behavior. So much for logic."
Kosher Kiss-Up Award (for Lauding Lieberman)
"Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore officially introduced
his history-making running mate today, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.
History-making because Lieberman is of Jewish heritage and faith. The two
started running right away. In their first joint appearance they gave a
preview of the Gore-Lieberman fight-back, come-back strategy. Their
message: They represent the future, not the past, and they are the ticket
of high moral standards most in tune with real mainstream America."
I Am Woman Award (for Hillary Rodham Worshiping)
"I'm endlessly fascinated by her....She's so smart. Virtually
every time I've seen her perform, she has knocked my socks off."
Carve Clinton into Mount Rushmore Award
"You're going to miss that guy. Don't tell me you're not
gonna miss that guy. This is a master. He may be a rogue, but he is an
artful and pleasant rogue and done a hell of a job as President. I'm
gonna miss the guy...He should've been the vice presidential
Media Hero Award
"However formal the father-son relationship, it was strong enough
that Al [Gore] went off to war for him. When most kids wouldn't come to
the dinner table wearing a clean T-shirt, Al signed up for Vietnam to
diminish the impact of his father's opposition to the war in his
unsuccessful fight to keep his Senate seat in 1970. Gore, to preserve his
father's career, did what few sons of privilege had to do....As
psychiatrists and Shakespeare would have it, a son comes into his own when
he surpasses his father. By that measure, Gore is fully grown. Unlike the
breezy George W. Bush, who was on a career respirator much of his adult
life, Gore has worked up a sweat getting to where he is."
The Real Reagan Legacy Award
Co-host Bryant Gumbel: "Well, later on this morning we're going
to be talking on this President's Day about this presidential survey.
Who would you think finished first?...Of all the Presidents when they did
first to worst. Oh c'mon, you would know."
Flirting with Disaster Award (for Proximity to Conservatives)
"The platform is, again, very strongly pro-life and rejects
abortion rights, and the platform specifically comes out against gay
unions, and against legal protections based on sexual preferences. So is
this really an open, compassionate, tolerant party?"
The Galloping Ghost of Gingrich Award (for Chiding Cheney)
"And when you talk about votes like that, that he made while in
Congress, anti-affirmative action, anti-abortion, anti-gun control,
anti-equal rights, how does George Bush portray him as a compassionate
W is for Woeful Award (for Bashing Bush)
"He went along with having an openly gay Congressman address the convention last night, yet Bush opposes hate
crimes legislation, gay marriage and gay adoption. He is the candidate who
talks of making health insurance available to all who want it, but has
fought to limit federal insurance for children. Bush is the candidate who
has proposed a huge tax cut as a way to help the working class. But more
than sixty percent of the relief would go to the richest ten percent of
Americans. And while he speaks of the need to protect the environment,
Bush supports mostly voluntary efforts to do it."
If He Didn't Sink, Send Him Back to the Clink Award (for Portraying a Cuban Paradise Awaiting Elian)
"While Fidel Castro, and certainly justified on his record, is
widely criticized for a lot of things, there is no question that Castro
feels a very deep and abiding connection to those Cubans who are still in
Cuba. And, I recognize this might be controversial, but there's little
doubt in my mind that Fidel Castro was sincere when he said, 'listen, we
really want this child back here.'"
Little Havana Banana Republic Award
"Some suggested over the weekend that it's wrong to expect Elian
Gonzalez to live in a place that tolerates no dissent or freedom of
political expression. They were talking about Miami. All eyes on south
Florida and its image this morning. Another writer this weekend called it
'an out of control banana republic within America.' What effect is the
Elian Gonzalez story having on perception
of Miami? We will talk with a well-known columnist for the Miami Herald
Semper Fidel Award (for Jim Avila's Admiration of Fidel Castro)
"What is deprogramming? What is reeducation? The young man [Elian]
will go back into the, into the school system in Cuba. The school system
in Cuba teaches that communism is the way to succeed in life and it is the
best system. Is that deprogramming or is that national heritage? That's
certainly what he'll be learning. He'll also be living in a different
kind of society, a society that many people here in Cuba like. The CIA, in
fact, says that if the borders were
open that most, 90 percent of the population here in Cuba would stay in
Cuba because they like it."
Bring Back the Iron Curtain Award (for Admiring Communism)
"To be a poor child in Cuba may in many instances be better than
being a poor child in Miami and I'm not going to condemn their lifestyle
Damn Those Conservatives Award
"What a f--king idiot."
Good Morning Morons Award
"In a macro-political sense, do you think the Gore preoccupation
with morality is a frightening turn for the party?"
Politics of Meaninglessness Award (for the Silliest Analysis)
"I had my opinions surgically removed when I became a network correspondent."
END Reprint of winning quotes in the MRC's awards for the year's worst reporting.
Now, the list of the judges who gave generously of their time to complete our extensive ballot and return it to us in under two weeks:
-- Chuck Asay, editorial cartoonist, The Gazette in Colorado Springs
END list of judges.
On Wednesday, the first runners-up. -- Brent Baker , hiding out in state where the President-elect captured a whopping 32 percent.
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