Welcome to the Media Research Center's annual awards issue, a compilation of the most outrageous and/or humorous news media quotes from 1994. To determine this year's winners, a panel of 50 talk show hosts, magazine editors, columnists, editorial writers and media observers each selected their choices for the first, second and third best quote from six to ten quotes in each category. First place selections were awarded three points, second place choices two points, with one point for the third place selections. A list of the judges appears on the back page. (This issue covers quotes from December 1993 through Nov. 1994.) The first quote under each award heading is the winner, followed in order by the top runners-up.
"Around the global village, women cheered and grown men wept. At his press conference, [Gold medal-winning speed skater Dan] Jansen paused to take a call from the President, the man who's made America safe again for tears."See the Runners-Up for the Quote Of The Year
"Some thoughts on those angry voters. Ask parents of any two-year-old and they can tell you about those temper tantrums: the stomping feet, the rolling eyes, the screaming. It's clear that the anger controls the child and not the other way around. It's the job of the parent to teach the child to control the anger and channel it in a positive way. Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week....Parenting and governing don't have to be dirty words: the nation can't be run by an angry two-year-old."
"They are not voting Republican tonight, Mary. They are voting against a lot of unhappiness in their own lives....I think that it's very easy for the Republicans to make the same mistake that the Democrats made in thinking that somehow we've been given this great mandate....They have got to be practical. They have got to compromise. They have got to meet the real needs of people. This is not an anti-government vote tonight."
"What this Contract [with America] says is you can have hot fudge sundae for every meal and still lose weight. It's a fraud and there's a whole lot of Republicans who already are starting to forget where they were September 27."
"This is a rotten time to be black. Blacks are just going to take it in the chops....Their programs are going to get eviscerated and affirmative action is going to go right down the tubes...Politics have moved right because a lot of middle-class people thought they were taking my money and giving it to poor black people, and they didn't like it and they want their money back."
"The Republicans have resorted to demagoguery and transparent bribes (like lower taxes). The legislature they promise seems a blustery, selfish, self-righteous desert."
"Hillary Clinton, like Eleanor Roosevelt, had already done a great service. Unlike Barbara Bush, she got involved. She has taken stands. She has been a leader. It's too bad, of course, that there is not health care legislation this year, but that is Congress' failure, not Hillary Clinton's. Her role has been a success. She awakened the nation. She educated the nation. She enlightened the nation....For when a nation gets two leaders for the price of one -- a Franklin and Eleanor, a Bill and Hillary -- it can tackle twice as many problems, find twice as many solutions, make twice as much progress."
"Bill Clinton evoked sympathy and understanding by acknowledging marital problems on the famous 60 Minutes interview. His wife is too dignified for confessionals, but she could benefit from admitting that she, too, has occasionally yielded to temptation and made the wrong choices. The public might even be tickled to discover that the prim and preachy First Lady has a gambler's streak. Hillary's brief fling in commodities was possibly reckless, but it shows a glimmering of a more credible, if more flawed, human being."
"There is a lot of gleeful sexist reaction to her difficulties, a lot of piling on, a lot of men who never stood up for a woman's right to do anything who would be completely content to have her whispering sweet nothings to him in bed and manipulating him that way, and are simply terrorized by the thought that she may have real, formal, out-front power."
"As much as we try to think otherwise, when you're covering someone like yourself, and your position in life is insecure, she's your mascot. Something in you roots for her. You're rooting for your team. I try to get that bias out, but for many of us it's there."
"The American Spectator broke the story, as Gwen mentioned, because they're a very right-wing ideological publication....What really happened was there was a conspiracy, in my opinion, by right-wingers, including some right-wing journalists, to press this newspaper [the Los Angeles Times] into running this story before it was ready to, trying to get it out, and so they spread the rumor all around town that I had threatened to resign if it did run...I know one of the guys who was spreading it: Brit Hume of ABC, who covers the White House, who writes for The American Spectator. I know there's another conservative journalist who covers the White House, Fred Barnes, who's on the editorial board of The American Spectator...So they were all promoting this story."
"She [Hillary] is really convinced that the right wing is incredibly well-organized, and there is kind of a hate campaign going on in this country that is, is deeply and well-organized, and it poses a real threat to government and the Clintons personally. And I mean, she may be right."
"Some of us were called in by Caspar Weinberger, when he was the Secretary of Defense. This was after Grenada, after the Grenada invasion, which again was not covered. We don't know the full story today. No reporters got in for three days. I don't know whether we really found a warehouse full of AK-47s there or not. Maybe we planted them there. I'm not saying we did, but we had three days to do it if we wanted to because we had no reporters get there at the beginning."
"Questions abound about how and why Republican Kenneth Starr suddenly came to be the new Independent Counsel in the Whitewater case replacing Republican Robert Fiske. New disclosures are fueling questions about whether or not Starr is an ambitious Republican partisan backed by ideologically-motivated, anti-Clinton activists and judges from the Reagan, Bush, and Nixon years. Correspondent Eric Engberg has tonight's CBS Evening News reality check."
"Then one day in the summer of 1981 I found myself at the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine. I was a correspondent in the White House in those days, and my work -- which consisted of reporting on President Reagan's success in making life harder for citizens who were not born rich, white, and healthy -- saddened me....My parents raised me to admire generosity and to feel pity. I had arrived in our nation's capital [in 1981] during a historic ascendancy of greed and hard-heartedness....Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it."
[Clarification, November 2003: It has come to our attention that while the sentence, "Reagan couldn’t tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it,” appeared on page 84 of the book by Raines, it came in the midst of a multi-paragraph quote in a chapter in which he favorably recited the comments on things great and small (during a fishing venture to Hunting Creek near Thurmont, Maryland), from his companion on the trip, Dick Blalock. The other quotes attributed in the book to Raines are accurate and reflect his personal views.
The paragraph in full from which the quote came: "'See that pool?' said Dick. 'That was Jimmy Carter's favorite pool when he was President We’re only about a mile from Camp David. The Fish and Wildlife Boys kept the stream lousy with big brood fish from the hatcheries when he was up here. I knew a guy who used to slip in and give every big trout in the stream a sore lip whenever he heard Carter was coming. Of course, I liked Carter. Charlie Fox and Ben Schley taught him a lot about fishing, and he ties a good fly. Reagan couldn't tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it.'" We regret the confusion.]
"America is cheering [for Forrest Gump]. Much as it cheered Ronald Reagan, who more than Schweik or Candide, is the real proto-Gump. Reagan too was relentlessly upbeat. Reagan too was extraordinarily lucky. And his luck, like Gump's, was often built on the backs of people who suffered off-screen. Forrest had bankrupt shrimpers, martyred Vietnam buddies, and his wife, whose death was remarkably demure, considering her ailment. Reagan scored points off America's poor; somehow managed to cloak himself in heroism while apologizing for a needless screw-up that killed 241 servicemen in Beirut; and avoided tarnishing his reputation for optimism by spending too much time on AIDS."
"Both Greedy and The Ref find comic pay dirt in the spectacle of blood relations uncorking their revulsions and resentments in open insult. You could read them as belated tantrums against the patriarchal, money-obsessed Reagan '80s."
"A liberal bias? I don't know what a liberal bias is. Do you mean we care about the poor, the sick, and the maimed? Do we care whether people are being shot every day on the streets of America? If that's liberal, so be it. I think it's everything that's good in life -- that we do care. And also for the solutions -- we seek solutions and we do think that we are all responsible for what happens in this country."
"I won't make any pretense that the American Agenda is totally neutral. We do take a position. And I think the public wants us now to take a position. If you give both sides and `Well, on the one hand this and on the other that' -- I think people kind of really want you to help direct their thinking on some issues."
"It's a big loss for the President. It's a big loss for the Congress, and I think it's a big loss for the country."
"To his family, to his friends, he is not Rodney. They call him by his middle name, Glenn. He hurts inside. He's changed outside. Slimmed down, his 210 pounds resembling those of a pro football wide receiver. He leads his family with serious focus."
"In an essay on turning 60, Steinem writes: `I'm looking forward to trading moderation for excess' -- which is good news. And there's a precedent. In 1895 [Elizabeth Cady] Stanton finally published a book she had been planning for many years: a roaring attack on the Bible for its misogyny. The book was a best seller, the horrified suffrage association voted to censure her and to Stanton's pleasure, `the clergy jumped around...like parched peas on a hot shovel.' She was 80. Now that's a feminist."
"Everyone is applauding, I think, in the health care community, the emphasis on universal access, because they know that unless they're going to let some people just die in the streets, it makes sense to get medical care early, when it's going to be more effective and less costly....the insurance companies are the focal point for the dynamics of denial that are part of our present for-profit system."
"Bryant, a Democrat can get insurance reform. It will take a Republican President to get universal coverage to prove that it's not a Neanderthal party ten years from now."
"The Clinton plan proposes totally free coverage, no co-payment for preventive measures....The single-payer plan, and the House Education and Labor Committee would add free family-planning services and contraceptives for poor women."
"Most of the riders saw themselves as missionaries spreading the word about how the current health care system had failed them. Some were Republican, others Democrat; some were against abortion, others supported abortion rights. Most said they were not political. Their main focus was on assuring that every American be covered by health insurance. In their view, the Health Security Express was a nonpartisan effort to persuade Congress to pass legislation that provides universal coverage."
Reporter Tom Pettit: "Of all of the states, Hawaii has the most coverage, the closest thing to universal coverage, which the President has made the centerpiece of his health plan. Since 1974, twenty years ago, Hawaii has required employers to insure their workers and the state to cover the unemployed."
Governor John Waihee III: "We cover actually about 97, 98 percent of our population."
Pettit: "That is why Hawaii is a paradise, I guess."
"Well, it may seem the sheerest act of heresy to say so, but far from being pathologically dishonest, Bill Clinton has been more faithful to his word than any other chief executive in recent memory. He may have skirted the truth about the draft, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and so on. But Clinton has kept his contract with voters. On policy issues, he has done almost exactly what he said he was going to do, despite setbacks and enormous obstacles. And by so doing, he has made himself an excellent President."
"In less than two years, Bill Clinton had already achieved more domestically than John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush combined. Although Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan often had their way with Congress, Congressional Quarterly says it's Clinton who has had the most legislative success of any President since Lyndon Johnson. Inhale that one....The standard for measuring results domestically should not be the coherence of the process but how actual lives are touched and changed. By that standard, he's doing well."
Host Tina Gulland: "Are we agreed generally that it was a plus week for Clinton in the sense that he was viewed as presidential and in charge of foreign policy?"
ABC and National Public Radio reporter Nina Totenberg: "He was there in the middle of the desert. I mean, it was biblical!"
"Around the country, President Clinton is routinely trashed by conservative talk-show hosts and Repub- lican candidates for being the most liberal President in modern times...But based on the measures that Mr. Clinton succeeded in getting through Congress in his first two years, he looks like Mainstream Bill....The Clinton record is surprisingly pro-business and centrist."
"The first time I shot somebody, it felt, God, it felt great. I mean, years later, I read this like, magazine, and it likened the feeling to ejaculation, or orgasm, and I thought about it, and it really was....When John Wayne shoots somebody, he rides off into the sunset. Why can't I, you know? Young people don't make the logical connections that adults assume they make about those kinds of things. That's why you've got to get rid of the guns."
"One standard conservative argument against antipoverty policies is their cost: taxes burden the affluent and thus, by lowering work incentive, reduce economic output. But if one goal of the policy is to bolster monogamy, then making the affluent less so would help. Monogamy is threatened not just by poverty in an absolute sense but also by the relative wealth of the rich. This is what lures a young woman to a wealthy married or formerly married man. It is also what makes the man who attracts her feel too good for just one wife. As for the economic consequences, the costs of soaking the rich might well be outweighed by the benefits, financial and otherwise, of more stable marriages, fewer divorces, fewer abused children and less loneliness and depression."
"Programs designed to aid inner city youths...are not pork....`Pork!' scream the demagogues. `Give us the death penalty!' The next time you or a loved one find yourself trapped in the nightmare of a violent crime, ask yourself if it wouldn't have been better for the `perp' to have been off playing basketball somewhere. You may find yourself suddenly in favor of even an imperfect attempt at prevention."
"To his fans, David Brock, the writer who ruined the Clintons' Christmas, is a hard-hitting investigative reporter. To everyone else, he is a smear artist with a right-wing agenda. But a reading of Mr. Brock's oeuvre in the conservative journal The American Spectator suggests that his motives are at least as twisted as his facts. It's women, not liberals, who really get him going. The slightest sighting of female sexuality whips him into a frenzy of misogynist zeal. All women are the same to Mr. Brock: terrifying, gutter-tongued sexual omnivores."
"There is very little in the press accounts to suggest that he is, above all, a sophisticated propagandist, an avatar of the politics of meanness and envy....Limbaugh is defending the successful against the impudent demands of the poor; by making all that funny, he gives the comfortable a way to think that greed and a cold-hearted wit comprise a cohesive ideology....his style is pure demagoguery. Just as Reagan talked of welfare queens in Cadillacs, Limbaugh seizes on the absurd detail, gives it an absurdist twist of his own, and sends it out into the world under the guise of analysis and principle.... It is not enough for him to oppose liberalism. He must, like all demagogues, scare his listeners, get them to believe in conspiracy, rumor....Like Reagan, Limbaugh is neither curious nor brave; he would rather tell his audiences fairy tales than have them face the world; he would rather sneer at the weak than trouble the strong."
"Why does anyone take Rush Limbaugh seriously?....He's entertaining. But, come on, he is to truthfulness as President Clinton is to faithfulness -- he has but a passing acquaintance with it. He's toying with you, folks, getting you all riled up with a stew of half-truths and non-truths. He's making fools of you, feeding you swill -- and you're taking it in....So keep listening if you want. But just remember that he's a charlatan."
"One of my losers of the year is David Brock, who wrote that slimy magazine article that revived all those charges about Bill Clinton's personal behavior, and I regarded that as journalism which is truly out of bounds."
"Yes, the case is being fomented by right-wing nuts, and yes, she is not a very credible witness, and it's really not a law case at all...some sleazy woman with big hair coming out of the trailer parks...I think she's a dubious witness, I really do."
"We've got an awful lot to talk about this week, including the sexual harassment suit against the President. Of course, in that one, it's a little tough to figure out who's really being harassed."
"But [attorney Bob] Bennett says he has `people coming out of the woodwork' to discredit Jones and her story. He need look no further than Jones' brother-in-law, Mark Brown...`She went with one man and when she got there, she spotted another one. She goes right up to him, puts her leg between the legs of the other man and rubs herself up and down on him...Promiscuity? Good gosh. Her mother is fixing to get the shock of her life when Paula's life comes out...She went out and had herself a good time. I've seen her at the Red Lobster pinch men on the ass.'"
"What happened was a riveting hour and 12 minutes in which the First Lady appeared to be open, candid, but above all unflappable. While she provided little new information on the tangled Arkansas land deal or her controversial commodity trades, the real message was her attitude and her poise."
"She's been re-zoned back into the stratosphere. And when you watch that [commodities press conference], you just wonder why they waited so long. She's at least as good a communicator as her husband, and people have said about Clinton, `If you've got Elvis let him sing.' Well, I don't know what the analogy is, this was Streisand...For anybody except the Whitewater fanatics, this was an A-double-plus in both categories [style and substance]."
"But Whitewater so far is a parody of a political scandal, full of sound and fury, signifying next to nothing. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it must be a...turkey."
"The beauty of the special counsel is that he or she has to prove criminal wrongdoing, and not only criminal wrongdoing, but criminal intent, and I think, you know, everyone is certain that doesn't exist with the Clintons."
"You're aligned to a party which owes many of its victories to the so-called religious right and other conservative extremists who are historically insensitive to minority concerns. That doesn't bother you?"
"In the wake of the somewhat new hostilities bred in the Reagan '80s, how do you assess the state of race relations in this country today?"
"Let's not debate his presidency, but his passing. As opposed to a man like Reagan, Nixon is, was highly regarded as a genuine statesman with a first-class mind."
"What is it, do you think, government can do about this? If we declare that obesity is a disease, would that make any difference at all?"
"I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease....He is an absolutely reprehensible person."
"I think there's a big difference when people told Father Aristide to sort of moderate his views, they were concerned about people being dragged through the streets, killed and necklaced. I don't think that is what Newt Gingrich has in mind. I think he's looking at a more scientific, a more civil way of lynching people."
"Gays and lesbians are beaten to death in the streets with increasing frequency -- in part due to irrational fear of AIDS but also because hatemongers, from comedians to the worst of the Christian right, send the message that homosexuals have no value in our society. Sometimes that message has a major-party affiliation and a request for a campaign contribution. In the post-cold war era, gays have been drafted to replace communists as the new menace to the American Way: We're told gays corrupt youth and commandeer art and entertainment to win converts."
"Back then [when it received Soviet subsidies], the island may have been a thorn in Washington's side but it was a beacon of success for much of Latin America and the Third World. For decades, Cuba's health care and education systems were touted as great achievements of the revolution....Some say the trade ban has never given Cuba a chance to see whether or not Castro's socialism might work."
"Life has become so much worse for so many Russians under democratic pseudo capitalism...the first market reforms and the erosion of state authority have fostered a brutal cowboy capitalism. It is manifest in the emergence of a lavish lifestyle among a flamboyant and vulgar new class of businessmen, made up mostly of speculators, traders and outright criminals, all of whom are stealing the country blind...No freedom from fear and no freedom from want: Small wonder many Russians feel nostalgic for the days when there was bread and law and order."
"For more than 70 years, Russia dreamed the Soviet dream: the dream of a classless society, the dream of a workers' paradise. The classless state is now a state with a growing population of haves and an exploding population of have-nots. For many, the workers' paradise has become a homeless hell."
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"Stocks had their best performance in months this week, on news of sustained growth with negligible inflation, and the job picture is good as well. But does the President get credit? No."
"The recovery of the 1990s does not seem to be translating into better living standards. Wages are generally flat, job creation last month slowed, and the new jobs are often low-pay, dead-end service jobs, roughly one-fifth of them with temporary agencies."
"Around the global village, women cheered and grown men wept. At his press conference, [Gold medal-winning speed skater Dan] Jansen paused to take a call from the President, the man who's made America safe again for tears."
"To watch this President connect with people emotionally is an awesome thing. It's a raw, needy, palpable, electrifying thing that happens. There was no smile. It's as if he's soaking up the people like he's soaking up the sun, with the warmth pouring deep and direct into his political soul and recharging him, refilling him somehow once again with his own humanity and some sense of his role in the destiny of his country. Then, the hunger slaked, the great beast of Need fed once again, it seemed you could almost see the gratitude pouring off his brow like sweat as he made his way."
"Hillary Rodham Clinton is as pious as she is political. Methodism, for her, is not just a church but an extended family of faith that defines her horizons....If the Kennedy era was Camelot and the Reagan White House a ranchero on the Potomac, the Clinton presidency -- in the figure of its formidable First Lady -- is Washington's Methodist Moment."
"I think liberalism lives -- the notion that we don't have to stay where we are as a society, we have promises to keep, and it is liberalism, whether people like it or not, which has animated all the years of my life. What on Earth did conservatism ever accomplish for our country? It was people who wanted to change things for the better."
"I suspect that as long as the peccadilloes remain within reason, the American people will have great tolerance for a President who has not only seen the sunshine of Oxford, but also the dusky Dunkin' Donuts of the soul."
Ray Archer, Arizona Republic editorial writer
Brent Baker, Editor of MediaWatch & Notable Quotables
Mark Belling, talk show host, WISN, Milwaukee
Neal Boortz, talk show host, WSB in Atlanta
L. Brent Bozell III, Chairman, the Media Research Center
David Brudnoy, WBZ Radio and TV commentator, Boston
Priscilla Buckley, Senior Editor of National Review
Don Cook, Program Director, WCHS in Charleston, West Virginia
John Corry, American Spectator "Presswatch" columnist
Sandy Crawford, Editor of TV, etc.
Mark Davis, talk show host, WBAP, Dallas/Ft. Worth
Midge Decter, author
Jim Eason, talk show host, KGO in San Francisco
Mark Gilman, talk show host, WAVA, Washington, D.C.
Tim Graham, Co-Editor of Notable Quotables
Johnny Hart, cartoonist, creator of B.C. and The Wizard of Id
Kirk Healy, talk show host, WDBO in Orlando
Pat Hurley, anchor, WYHS-TV, Miami; talk show host, WFTL
Les Jameson, talk show host, WLAC in Nashville
Marie Kaigler, radio talk show host, Detroit
Cliff Kincaid, writer and broadcaster
Paul Koloski, Editorial Editor, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
John Leonard, talk show host, N. Ft. Myers
Jason Lewis, talk show host, KSTP, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Tony Macrini, talk show host, WNIS in Norfolk
Patrick McGuigan, Chief editorial writer, Daily Oklahoman
Jan Mickelson, talk show host, WHO in Des Moines
Wes Minter, talk show host, WCCO in Minneapolis
Robert Novak, syndicated columnist; television commentator
Kate O'Beirne, Vice President of the Heritage Foundation; panelist, PBS To the Contrary
Dr. Marvin Olasky, Professor of Journalism, U. of Texas at Austin
Star Parker, President of Coalition on Urban Affairs; talk show host, KGER in Los Angeles
Mike Pintek, talk show host, KDKA in Pittsburgh
Wladyslaw Pleszczynski, Managing Editor, American Spectator
Michael Reagan, syndicated radio talk show host
Mike Rosen, talk show host, KOA; columnist, Denver Post
William Rusher, Distinguished Fellow, Claremont Institute
Marc Ryan, editorial writer, Waterbury Republican-American
Melanie Scarborough, ed. writer, Richmond Times-Dispatch
Ted J. Smith III, journalism professor, Virginia Commonwealth U.
Philip Terzian, syndicated and Providence Journal columnist
Peter Wilkinson Thiele, talk show host, KSTP, Minneapolis/St.Paul
Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist; TV and radio talk show host
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., Editor-in-Chief of The American Spectator
Carl Wiglesworth, talk show host, WOAI, San Antonio
Armstrong Williams, syndicated radio talk show host
Dick Williams, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist
Walter Williams, economics professor, George Mason U. and syndicated columnist
Thomas Winter, Editor of Human Events
Barry Young, talk show host, KFYI in Phoenix