Welcome to the Media Research Center's annual awards issue, a compilation of the most outrageous and/or humorous news media quotes from 1995. To determine this year's winners, a panel of 57 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. (This issue covers quotes from December 1994 through Nov. 1995.) The first quote under each award heading is the winner, followed in order by the top runners-up.
"I think he ought to be worried about what's going on in the Good Lord's mind, because if there is retributive justice, he'll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it."See the Runners-Up for the Quote Of The Year
"When you look at the reality of cutting people off, of saying you can't have more benefits if you have children while you are on welfare, you're talking about putting children on the street who are hungry and naked, and that's a sin."
"Public antagonism toward government has been one of the principal themes of American political discourse for nearly two decades, growing in shrillness in the past year. This sentiment has been voiced and amplified by the new Republican House, which just this month completed its 100 days of action, much of it aimed at paring back the growth of the federal government. But now that an attack on a government building has left scores dead, including children, the allure is coming off the anti-government rhetoric."
"The new Republican majority in Congress took a big step today on its legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor."
"This is some of the greatest redistribution of income I've ever seen, from have-nots to the haves...This is enough to put Robin Hood to shame."
"The Republican Congress, of course, is not likely to embrace raising taxes and cutting defense spending. It is beholden to three constituencies: The corporations, whose lobbyists finance politicians and then finagle billions in bizarre subsidies for clients. The rich, who write campaign checks and simply ask to be left alone. And many hard-working, middle-class men and women -- mostly white -- who resent handouts to the needy....About the best [the Democrats] can do is temper excesses of Republican plans -- excesses that could lead to class warfare or race warfare, excesses that will widen the already widening gap between rich and poor."
"In practice, personally, I think it will destroy the future competitiveness and security of the country, in terms of education, infrastructure, and medical practice as we know it today."
"These days Washington seems to be filled with white men who make black people uneasy, like Newt the slasher, Bill the waffler, and Jesse the crank -- Helms, that is, not Jackson. But the scariest of all the hobgoblins may well be a fellow African American, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In the four years since George Bush chose him to fill the `black seat' vacated by Thurgood Marshall, Thomas has emerged as the high court's most aggressive advocate of rolling back the gains Marshall fought so hard for. The maddening irony is that Thomas owes his seat to precisely the kind of racial preference he goes to such lengths to excoriate."
"Even your sister concedes, although some supporters might like what you have to say about the economy and these very specific issues you just mentioned, they're very turned off by some of your social policies. And you know you've got political enemies out there calling you an isolationist, a bigot, you're anti-gay, and some even go as far as saying that your social stands are reminiscent of Nazi Germany. How are you to win them over?"
"Its story line could be a Republican parable about 1995 America: A marvelous vessel loses its power and speeds toward extinction, until it's saved by a team of heroic white men. I can imagine the political commercials in which Hanks morphs into Phil Gramm. Although the movie's publicity trumpets its historical accuracy, the movie itself celebrates the paradisiacal America invoked by Ronald Reagan and Pat Buchanan -- an America where men were men, women were subservient, and people of color kept out of the damn way."
"Unless Gingrich and Dole and the Republicans say `Am I inflaming a bunch of nuts?', you know we're going to have some more events. I am absolutely certain the harsher rhetoric of the Gingriches and the Doles...creates a climate of violence in America."
"The conservatives' agenda, if it goes through, is going to depress the quality of cultural and educational life for everyone in America, young and old, black, brown, male or female. This is one of the most ill-conceived, profoundly anti-democratic ideas ever to get loose in Congress. Private philanthropy will never be able to restore what seems about to be taken away. Some will not notice it; others won't care; given the shortness of American social memory, perhaps the next generation won't know what happened. Partial lobotomies work that way. They favor Beavis and Butt-head. Is that the business of American government?"
"Next week on ABC's World News Tonight, a series of reports about our environment which will tell you precisely what the new Congress has in mind: the most frontal assault on the environment in 25 years. Is this what the country wants?"
"This is deregulation madness! We're gonna have dirty water, dirty air. OSHA regulations are being rolled back. There's gonna be no competition in the telecommunications industry. And between local cable and local phone, there's not gonna be competition at the present time. It's gonna take awhile and there's gonna be no regulation in the meantime. And so no, he [Clinton] can't go along with this. And the people, the public isn't going to go along with this. They don't want E. coli bacteria in their drinking water."
"Safe food, safe water, safe air, safe transportation. You have this protection now, but you might be about to lose it. Why? Watch a special In Depth report on NBC Nightly News tomorrow."
"There will be change, but most hope the original intent of the law will not be lost. Because if the plants and animals can't survive, what future is there for the human species?"
"Cut off the funding for NPR, or gradually reduce its funding to the point where it becomes a mere shadow of its usually robust, sensible self, and the American people may find themselves left with nothing much more than Rush and dozens of his mini-clones for information about the world. For Limbaugh's `dittoheads,' this may be the most splendid of tomorrows, but for other more thoughtful listeners, it may be the bleakest of forecasts."
"Some people are very concerned about talk shows, radio talk shows in general, of course. Most of them around the country have a decidedly conservative bent. The rap that some people give them is that they reflect the views of a very vocal minority, the extremists in this country, and don't really reflect the true nature of political debate in the United States. And, as a matter of fact, they tend to be quite divisive and sort of have a bad, a negative impact on the country."
"The issue is whether what's going out over the airwaves here and elsewhere is fanning the flames, is making the situation worse, that talk radio is not democracy in action, but democracy run amok."
"In a nation that has entertained and appalled itself for years with hot talk on the radio and the campaign trail, the inflamed rhetoric of the '90s is suddenly an unindicted co-conspirator in the blast."
"The bombing in Oklahoma City has focused renewed attention on the rhetoric that's been coming from the right and those who cater to angry white men. While no one's suggesting right-wing radio jocks approve of violence, the extent to which their approach fosters violence is being questioned by many observers, including the President....Right-wing talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Bob Grant, Oliver North, G. Gordon Liddy, Michael Reagan, and others take to the air every day with basically the same format: detail a problem, blame the government or a group, and invite invective from like-minded people. Never do most of the radio hosts encourage outright violence, but the extent to which their attitudes may embolden and encourage some extremists has clearly become an issue."
"House Republicans denied any impropriety when they approved federal budget reductions of $17 billion and outlined $190 billion more, slashing programs that largely benefit women, children, and the poor, to pay for that `pouting sex kitten' mistress of their dreams -- tax cuts."
"When NBC Nightly News continues: in Washington, if they cut food stamps, who doesn't eat?"
"The Democrats, the big mistake they've made is they ought to have advertisements about deterioration of quality, they ought to show an elderly person in a hospital bed, ringing for a nurse who doesn't show up. That's where the cutbacks are going to be."
"March madness has begun on Capitol Hill, and almost as predictable as a B horror film, the slashing has begun. House Republicans have made a small down payment on their plan to make massive budget cuts."
"The election returns start with a stark fact so disturbing that no one in the media wants to state it plainly: The U.S. House of Representatives is now to be led by a world-class demagogue, a talented reactionary in the vengeful tradition Gov. George Wallace and Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Like Wallace before him, Newt Gingrich evokes the nation's boiling anxieties as a rancid populism of `us vs. them,' though he is too shrewd to make the racial resentments explicit. Like Joe McCarthy, Gingrich depicts his adversaries not simply as mistaken in their political views but as sick, traitorous people who are invidiously subverting the national character....We shall soon find out if there is a kinder, gentler Newt lurking beneath the rock. Somehow I doubt it. His hatred seems to be from the heart."
"Newtie has gone too far. When you take food out of the mouths of babes and claim it is in their best interests, as Gingrich did in defending his Draconian budget cuts, you cross the line from mere heartlessness to dangerous demagoguery. It is one thing to play the mean-spirited reactionary, gutting one social program after another while pandering to the greed of the more affluent voter. That is a morally wrong but logically consistent position. Taking $500 from a child on welfare and giving it to one whose parents earn more than $200,000 a year is a loathsome but defensible position to advocates of a social Darwinism that holds that only the strong deserve to live."
"Let's face it: to most African Americans Newt Gingrich is one scary white man....One can only hope Gingrich was sincere in his speech to Congress last week....That could mean Gingrich is serious about shedding his party's whites-only image. If so, blacks ought to meet him halfway -- if only to temper the wilder impulses of one very scary white man."
"You called Gingrich and his ilk, your words, `trickle-down terrorists who base their agenda on division, exclusion, and fear.' Do you think middle class Americans are in need of protection from that group?"
"Janet Reno has asked for an independent counsel to investigate charges against HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown is being investigated. Questions have been raised about Transportation Secretary Federico Pena. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy resigned under pressure, as did Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. The Clinton White House seems to be having a hard time retaining high-profile minorities particularly. Do you think, Senator, they are being held to a higher standard in Washington than their white predecessors?"
"He has hope of staying out [of a gang] as long as he has a basketball in his hands....Without the basketball this kid is running drugs, carrying a gun and soon to kill somebody. And that's true in place after place. Now we get to decide: Do you want a basketball in his hands, to continue trying to convince him to stay out of a gang, or do you want to face him in a dark street some night with a nine-millimeter Glock in his hands?"
"President Clinton will be attending more ceremonies in Hawaii marking V-J Day, Victory over Japan. Saturday, Mr. Clinton went to a ceremony on a hill high above Honolulu. He praised those who served in the military 50 years ago, saying they saved the world. After today's ceremonies marking the end of World War II, President Clinton will head back to the United States."
"Two weeks after his acquittal, we'll see how O.J. Simpson is still being treated as if he were guilty."
Thomas Friedman, New York Times reporter and columnist: "Governor, I'm kind of a foreign policy wonk, and it scares the bejesus out of me to have someone as President of the United States, Commander-in-Chief, and finger on the nuclear button who is such an outsider to Washington and American foreign policy."
Lamar Alexander: "Well, did Ronald Reagan scare you, Tom?"
Friedman: "He sure did."
Alexander: "Did he? He didn't scare me. I thought he was the best national defense and Commander-in-Chief and foreign policy President we've had since Eisenhower." Friedman: "Ask 245 Marines in Beirut about that."
"How much did Reagan fool the American people and how much did he simply play into their wishes? Were they misled by the nature of his campaigning or were they led into ways they wanted to go? Was Reagan sort of a modern Pied Piper? It's my instinct about it that he very successfully delayed the apprehension of reality by this country for about a decade. He made people feel that things were better than they were, that the external dangers were greater than they were."
"Despite her soaring popularity and role as queen of the Democratic Party, she was ousted from office in the nation's sweep to the right. Today more than half a year since her surprising defeat, she remains as popular as ever....Six months after her defeat, the light of this Lone Star legend doesn't seem to have dimmed one bit."
"A lot has been written about you in the last couple of weeks. Much of it has a sense that Mario Cuomo is a man full of promise and now that your 12 years in Albany is done, much of that promise is unfulfilled. Do you disagree with that?....The sense of the promise that you may have been able to deliver to people, your eloquence, your intelligence, that did not translate, for lack of a better term, into dynamic governance?....How are you going to use this? Are you, will you continue to use this passion, will you continue to use this eloquence? Some people have suggested you should become a counterbalance to Rush Limbaugh."
"It's one of the great political myths, about press bias. Most reporters are interested in a story. Most reporters don't know whether they're Republican or Democrat, and vote every which way. Now, a lot of politicians would like you to believe otherwise, but that's the truth of the matter. I've worked around journalism all of my life, Tom Snyder has as well, and I think he'll agree with this, that most reporters, when you get to know them, would fall in the general category of kind of common-sense moderates. And also, let me say that I don't think that `liberal' or `conservative' means very much any more, except to those kind of inside-the-Beltway people who want to use it for their own partisan political advantage. I don't think it holds up."
"I don't think the coverage of Gingrich and the GOP Congress has been liberally biased."
Question: "...The liberal bias of your network is obvious."
ABC News Washington anchor and reporter Carole Simpson: "I challenge you to give me examples of that. I disagree wholeheartedly. I think it's again, an example of the mean-spiritedness that is these days also directed at the media."
"The Republican jihad against the poor, the young and the helpless rolls on. So far no legislative assault has been too cruel, no budget cut too loathsome for the party that took control of Congress at the beginning of the year and has spent all its time since then stomping on the last dying embers of idealism and compassion in government....If anything is funny in this dismal period, it's that the Republicans are touchy about being called heartless and cold. That's a riot. Has anyone listened to Newt Gingrich lately? To Dick Armey? To Phil Gramm? This is the coldest crew to come down the pike since the Ice Age."
"[Clinton] can get in high dudgeon about mean-spiritedness, and when the Republicans get feverish and clammy and speak in tongues and handle snakes, he can go out to Omaha and Houston and be charming and graceful....The Republicans are going to be the Party That Canceled the Clean Air Act and Took Hot Lunches from Children, the Orphanage Party of Large White Men Who Feel Uneasy Around Gals."
"I fear that the Contract with America, if enacted, may be detrimental to the family, especially those of single women and their children....But my fear is that Mr. Gingrich, given his history, may increase what I see as a new mean-spiritedness in this country....I would like to think that the American people care about poor people, about sick people, about homeless people, and about poor children. I am shocked by the new mean-spiritedness."
"Most of the KKK has joined the Republican Party. They don't have to be there [marching]."
"For urban dwellers, and especially the poor, the Republican Party as currently constituted is the enemy -- the source of endless destructive, mean-spirited and racist initiatives....The unspoken question on Kelly Street [in the Bronx] was how, in good conscience, General Powell could serve as the standard-bearer of a party that is waging all-out war against the poor and racial and ethnic minorities (and which is hostile to the interests of the middle class as well)....For years, the insidious and blatantly racist strategy of the Republican Party has been to pit the middle classes against the lower classes, while sucking money from both groups up the economic pyramid to the smiling faces at the top."
"From the pronunciamentos out of Washington, you'd think the new Congress were a slash-and-burn Khmer Rouge, determined to rid Phnom Penh of every member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, every painter who ever got a dime out of the National Endowment for the Arts, every child who was ever difficult, and other inconvenient co-dependents who ought instead to be growing rice and eating fishpaste in the boondocks."
"Too bad he didn't say a word or two on behalf of public broadcasting, currently under attack by a crowd of power-drunk crackpots in Congress who want to exterminate it. Kermit the Frog will wind up in the kitchen of a French restaurant if they get their way."
"It's nice, of course, if we have a President we like. But there's more to governing than likability. We learned that from the likable Ronald Reagan, who charmed us with stories as he amassed huge deficits and spent billions on goofy defense plans. No, the record is more important. And Bill Clinton's record is just short of terrific."
"I'd like to start, if I may, with what I think you may think is a puzzlement. You've reduced the deficit. You've created jobs. Haiti hasn't been an enormous problem. You've got a crime bill with your assault weapon ban in it. You got NAFTA, you got GATT, and 50 percent of the people don't want you to run again. Where's the disconnect there?"
"...Here's another one. In our poll today, the absolute critical items for Congress to address. Number one, cutting the deficit. Number two, health care reform. The two issues which were absolute priorities for two years, and you don't get any credit for them?"
"So perhaps the weekend of World War II commemoration was somewhat of an epiphany for Clinton, and for the nation. Maybe the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II was a time when he came to the realization that his reluctance to answer his country's call was a mistake, and those who answered without a second thought forgave him. How else do we explain aging World War II veterans, as giddy as children, jockeying to get their pictures taken with the President, and camouflaged young soldiers with shaven heads shouting out `Four more years!'"
"But aren't most medical procedures, when you describe them in detail, pretty disgusting? Isn't, for example, the production of veal, when you describe it in detail, and how people eat meat, when they crunch down on the flesh of living beings, formerly living beings with their teeth. Isn't that pretty gruesome, too?"
"The good news for Russians? They no longer have to worry about being shipped to Siberia for defying the old communist state. The bad news? They may have to come to Moscow, where the chances of dying in a car crash are greater than expiring in Siberia. This city is one large wreck 'em derby....Isn't capitalism grand?"
"In the post-Oklahoma City debate over the links between violent rhetoric and violent action, some social critics have begun looking beyond talk radio, focusing instead on the metaphors and imagery that have helped to define America from the earliest days of the Republic. What they conclude is that the disturbed and disgruntled -- who have already made up their minds to kill or terrorize -- can lean on a slew of cultural icons to legitimize their feelings of aggression. After all, these theorists say, the United States is a nation founded in rebellion and riddled with mottos, slogans and images grounded in battle and aggression. `Live free or die,' says the New Hampshire license plate. `With the sword we seek peace, but under liberty,' goes the less-known Massachusetts state motto. And what schoolchild cannot recite Patrick Henry's stirring words, `Give me liberty or give me death'? Whether consciously or not, a growing number of academics say, some homegrown terrorists and killers may warm themselves in the rhetorical glow of the rocket's red glare."
"One of the interesting things about Newt Gingrich is to become Speaker without running in a national election. This is almost like a parliamentary system where he ran in one small borough, and then because his party won the majority, he becomes a national figure. So it's an oddity that we're not used to in this system."
"I think he ought to be worried about what's going on in the Good Lord's mind, because if there is retributive justice, he'll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it."
"A passionate and out-of-character defense of animals produced our Moment of the Week this week. It was Thursday on the floor of the House of Representatives. In the midst of a week that saw close to $10 billion in proposed cuts, House Speaker Newt Gingrich suddenly rose in defense of a comparatively tiny $800,000. But the cause was apparently dear to him, preserving endangered animals....Humans, however, didn't fare that well: funding for the National Endowment for the Arts was voted out of existence in two years."
"This comes at a time when Republicans are looking to gut the Clean Water Act and also the Safe Drinking Water Act. What are our options? Are we now forced to boil water because bottled water is not an economically feasible option for a lot of people?"
"The noises coming from [Rep. Sonny] Bono and many of his fellow Republican signers of House Speaker Newt Gingrich's `Contract with America' signal a radical shift in Congress's attitude toward environmental issues -- a shift that may bode ill for the health of snail darters, spotted owls, and even the human species."
"Still ahead, the latest round of bloodshed and violence at abortion clinics. The anti-abortion movement has been creeping to the edge of bloody fanaticism for a decade."
Ray Archer, Arizona Republic editorial writer and columnist
Brent Baker, Editor of MediaWatch and Notable Quotables
Mark Belling, talk show host, WISN in 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, WVa.
John Corry, American Spectator “Presswatch” columnist
Sandy Crawford, Editor of TV, etc.
Mark Davis, talk show host, WBAP in Dallas/Ft. Worth
Midge Decter, author and retired troublemaker
Jim Eason, talk show host, KGO in San Francisco
Barry Farber, syndicated radio talk show host
Don Feder, Boston Herald writer and syndicated columnist
John Fund, editorial writer, The Wall Street Journal
Mark Gilman, talk show host, KKHT-FM in Houston
Tim Graham, Co-Editor of Notable Quotables
David Gold, talk show host, KLIF in Dallas
Johnny Hart, cartoonist, creator of B.C. and The Wizard of Id
Kirk Healy, talk show host, WDBO in Orlando
Arianna Huffington, Chair, Center for Effective Compassion
Marie Kaigler, independent journalist and broadcaster, Detroit
Cliff Kincaid, media columnist, Human Events
Paul Koloski, Editorial Editor, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Tim Lamer, Editor of MediaNomics
John Leonard, TV interviewer, N. Ft. Myers, Florida
Jason Lewis, talk show host, KSTP in Minneapolis/St. Paul
G. Gordon Liddy, nationally syndicated radio personality
Tony Macrini, Program Director, WNIS in Norfolk
Marlin Maddoux, syndicated radio talk show host, USA Network
Patrick McGuigan, Editor, editorial page, Daily Oklahoman
Jan Mickelson, talk show host, WHO in Des Moines
Wes Minter, talk show host, WCCO in Minneapolis/St. Paul
Oliver North, husband, father, small businessman, talk show host
Robert D. Novak, syndicated columnist; TV commentator
Kate O'Beirne, Washington Editor for National Review
Marvin Olasky, Professor of journalism, U. of Texas at Austin
Henry Payne, editorial cartoonist, Scripps Howard Newspapers
Joseph Perkins, syndicated columnist, San Diego Union Tribine
Dan Pierce, talk show host, WGIR in Manchester, NH
Mike Pintek, talk show host, KDKA in Pittsburgh
Wladyslaw Pleszczynski, Executive Editor, American Spectator
Michael Reagan, host, the Michael Reagan Talk Show
Mike Rosen, talk show host, KOA; columnist, Denver Post
William Rusher, Distinguished Fellow, Claremont Institute
Ted J. Smith III, journalism professor, Virginia Commonwealth U.
Philip Terzian, syndicated columnist, The Providence Journal
Peter Wilkinson Thiele, TV producer, freelance writer, talk host
Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist; CNBC talk host
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., Editor-in-Chief of The American Spectator
Carl Wiglesworth, talk show host, WOAI in San Antonio
Armstrong Williams, syndicated radio talk show host, columnist
Dick Williams, Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist; author of Newt: Leader of the Second American Revolution
Walter Williams, Professor of economics, George Mason U.
Thomas Winter, Editor of Human Events
Barry Young, host, WestStar TalkRadio Network; KFYI, Phoenix