Riots? Look On The Bright Side
"We keep looking
for some good to come out of this. Maybe it might help in putting race
relations on the front burner, after they've been subjugated for so long as a
result of the Reagan years."
- Bryant Gumbel, April 30 Today.
But Wait: They Weren't Exactly Riots...
people are saying that all of the violence had very little to do with Rodney
King. Instead, it was the desperate call of a community fighting for
- ABC reporter Tom Foreman, May 3 World News Sunday.
Much of Blame is Laid on Chief Gates
Slow Response by Police,
National Guard Seen Fueling the Violence
- Washington Post, May 2
Fingers point at Mayor
Bradley An angry statement after the verdict is blamed by some for the
lawlessness that followed
- Washington Times, next day
Riots? Blame the Willie Horton Ad
"I think it's
fascinating that this woman is speaking out of her gut, understanding that in
1988 when the late Lee Atwater orchestrated a campaign ad based on racial
hatred, based on exploiting the difference as she said. This is a woman who,
clearly, is speaking for many, many people who in 1988 under-estimated the
impact of this. This woman now is saying, four years later, I understand that
when this ad ran and when people voted on the basis of it, they played into an
atmosphere that is conducive to the kind of miscarriage of justice we've just
- Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Alexis Moore reacting to a caller on C-SPAN's Journalists' Roundtable, May 1.
Willie Horton earlier. That kind of ad obviously plays into this whole
situation. When you have such a calculus going on in the political community
about how to set one group against another, you can actually exacerbate racist
- USA Today reporter Richard Wolf, same show.
"It would help,
too, if the man who sanctioned the infamous Willie Horton ad during his 1988
run for the White House would admit his complicity in developing the images
and code words that encourage whites to demonize blacks."
- Time special correspondent Michael Kramer, May 11 issue.
"This is a war
within, and it seems to be calling for leadership of Lincolnesque dimensions,
and I don't think George Bush is capable of it, since he has exploited the
racial divisions in this country for a dozen years to further his political
career... We ought to pay attention to people that we have neglected through a
dozen years of Republican policies that have ignored the domestic
- Newsweek reporter Eleanor Clift on The McLaughlin Group, May 2.
"Bush does not have
a great civil rights track record with many black Americans, beginning with
the use of the controversial Willie Horton ads in the '88 campaign, through
his initial veto of civil rights legislation. Mr. Bush will now have a long
way to go to convince skeptical blacks that he is concerned about the way
America's criminal justice system treats them."
- CBS reporter Randall Pinkston, May 1 CBS This Morning.
"Many are afraid
the L.A. riots are going to be the Willie Horton of this campaign. Are you
afraid they're going to have a very divisive effect? Does that concern you or
are you playing that up?"
- Today co-host Katie Couric interviewing Pat Buchanan, May 6.
Reagan Made Them Do It
"Somebody who is in
elected office ought to have enough guts to say `I know I may lose the
election, but this is the result of the past ten, twelve, fifteen years of
neglect, this is the result of putting selfish [sic] and greed ahead of the
needs of us all.'"
- Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Alexis Moore, May 1 Journalists' Roundtable on C-SPAN.
"It's not a big
surprise that the jury in suburban Simi Valley sided with the white policemen.
Just as it's no surprise that the blacks in downtown Los Angeles rioted and
people died... Politicians have fanned these flames with code words about
`welfare queens,' `equal opportunity,' and `quotas.' Language designed to turn
whites against blacks. With two-party politics that favored the rich and hurt
- NBC commentator John Chancellor, April 30 Nightly News.
"During the '80s
nobody even talked about it. It was like everything was fine. If we shut up,
it would all go away... Taking their cues from Washington, most Americans over
the past dozen years have chosen to ignore the issue of civil rights, and the
growing signs of racial division."
- Bryant Gumbel, May 1 Today.
state [California] is populated by sharply contrasting classes of people:
wealthy suburban communities growing richer...crowded cities full of poor
people who strain local budgets and services...This should build a case
against the Republicans, who have inhabited the White House for the last 12
years and have pursued now-failed economic and social policies."
- Washington Post reporter Juan Williams, May 3 Sunday "Outlook" section.
urban children get by far the poorest schools. In a recent study, 44 percent
of urban school buildings were judged simply too old and many of those have
had virtually no maintenance since 1981. Between $100 and $160 billion would
be needed just to bring school buildings up to minimum standards."
- ABC reporter Bill Blakemore, May 4 World News Tonight.
$2.6 Trillion Not Enough: Spend More
"What we saw in the
streets of Los Angeles was the new reality of poverty in America - the past
due bills, so to speak, of 25 years of societal and government neglect."
- Newsweek's Tom Morganthau, May 11.
"In an election
year, some are wondering if politicians dare spend the kind of money that's
needed in the inner cities. After all, doing what's needed may help a lot of
people who don't vote, and anger a lot of people who do."
- CBS reporter John Blackstone, May 6 Evening News.
Don't Be Too Hard on the Oppressed
"We should avoid
focusing exclusively on the rage and inappropriate behavior of oppressed and
frustrated people who started these riots."
- Hugh Downs on ABC's 20/20, May 1.
"What we heard from
the White House today, the lead item on your program, with Marlin Fitzwater
saying this goes back to the failed policies of the 1960s, shows how quickly
the Republicans and how callously the Republicans are prepared to exploit this
familiar issue to them."
- Washington Post reporter and columnist David Broder, May 5 CNN Inside Politics.
Harry Smith, Optimist
"If you are like
most Americans, you figured you were lucky that it couldn't happen in your
town. Well, you might want to think again. America was shocked and appalled by
the violence and riots in Los Angeles last week. But what we saw was not an
aberration...Imagine a day when it's true in every American city. Impossible,
you say? Wait, and you'll see what happens."
- CBS This Morning co-host Harry Smith, May 4 commentary.
- L. Brent Bozell III;
- Brent H. Baker, Tim Graham; Editors
- Brant Clifton, Nicholas Damask, Steve Kaminski, Marian Kelley, Tim Lamer; Media Analysts
- Jennifer Hardebeck; Circulation Manager