Year End Awards: The Best Notable Quotables of 1988

Welcome to the Media Research Center's annual Categorys issue, a compilation of the most outrageous and/or humorous news media quotes from 1988.

Quote of the Year

Washington Post

"Economic Surge Raises Concerns"
Washington Post, January 25.
See the Runners-Up for the Quote Of The Year
Reagan Record

Don Regan and Lesley Stahl

Don Regan: "What's the bottom line of the Reagan Administration? It's a great record."
Lesley Stahl: "Bottom line. Largest deficits in history. Largest debtor nation. Can't afford to fix the housing emergency."
Exchange on Face the Nation, May 15.

Roger Rosenblatt

"I think it's a dangerous failure at least in terms of programs. A mess in Central America, neglect of the poor, corruption in government....And the worst legacy of all, the budget deficit, the impoverishment of our children."
U.S. News & World Report Editor Roger Rosenblatt during CBS News GOP Convention coverage.

Connie Chung

"The nation's unemployment rate fell a tenth of one percent in March to 5.6 percent. That's the lowest it's been since May of 1979. But this low unemployment rate is not entirely good news. Fewer people are looking for work."
Connie Chung on the April 1 NBC Nightly News.

Tom Brokaw

"Unemployment in America in April was the lowest it's been in fourteen years, 5.4 percent. That, coupled with other encouraging signs in the economy, is obviously good news but, you guessed it, it may mean bad news in the form of higher inflation."
Tom Brokaw opening the NBC Nightly News, May 6.

Washington Times

"Inflation rate dips slightly in May"
Washington Times, June 22

Washington Post

"Consumer Prices Up Slightly During May"
Washington Post, same day

New York Times

"Greenspan Sees Stable Rates"
New York Times, July 14

Wall Street Journal

"Greenspan Signals Higher Interest Rates"
Wall Street Journal, same day

Washington Post

"Greenspan Warns of Inflation"
Washington Post, same day

Baltimore Sun

"Greenspan expects growth, low inflation"
Baltimore Sun, same day
Reprinted from The New Republic

Peter Jennings

"And, so we choose Betty Friedan because she had the ability and the sensitivity to articulate the needs of women, which means that she did us all a favor."
Peter Jennings on ABC's February 19 Person of the Week.
Cuban Communism

Ed Rabel

"There is, in Cuba, government intrusion into everyone's life, from the moment he is born until the day he dies. The reasoning is that the government wants to better the lives of its citizens and keep them from exploiting or hurting one another....On a sunny day in a park in the old city of Havana it is difficult to see anything that is sinister."
NBC reporter Ed Rabel on Cuban life, Sunday Today, February 28.
Human Rights

The Washington Post

"Soviet Rights Improved By 'Glasnost,' U.S. Says: Repression Eased Under Gorbachev Policy"
The Washington Post, February 11

The Washington Times

"North Korea, Cuba worst abusers of human rights"
The Washington Times, same day
Oliver North

Larry King

"The best favor anybody could do for Lt. Col. Oliver North would be to send him a copy of the U.S. Constitution."
Mutual Broadcasting and CNN talk show host Larry King in his March 28 USA Today column.

Thomas DeFrank

"North's speeches are a skillful blend of showmanship and demagoguery."
Newsweek White House reporter Thomas DeFrank, August 1 issue.
Ted Turner's Portrait of the Soviet Union

Roy Scheider

"The Soviet Union, draped in history, born in a bloody revolution, bound together by a dream that is still being dreamt. The dream of a socialist nation marching toward the world's first communist state."
"Once the Kremlin was the home of czars. Today it belongs to the people."
"Atheist though the state may be, freedom to worship as you believe is enshrined in the Soviet Constitution."
Statements by narrator Roy Scheider during three night WTBS cable "Superstation" series aired in March.
Grenada Liberation

Washington Post

"Prosperity Eludes Grenada 5 Years After Invasion"
Washington Post, October 25

Washington Times

"Grenada invasion halted communism in its tracks"
Washington Times, same day

A Hungarian pop singer

"Oh, Mr. Gorbachev!

You are so different from all the other boys!

I think I'm falling in love with you!

Clap your hands, clap your hands, Gorbachev!

Clap, clap, clap, clap your hands!"
A Hungarian pop singer featured during story by NBC reporter John Cochran, May 26.

William Lord

"It is a totally different world. Moscow is right now an open city. It is just as open as Washington, D.C."
William Lord, former Executive Producer of ABC's World News Tonight, quoted in the Washington Post by Tom Shales, in early June.

Lucy Spiegel

"Personally, I think the Contras are worthless."
CBS News producer/reporter Lucy Spiegel quoted by David Brock in the January 1987 American Spectator.

Washington Times

"Arias warns Ortega: No room for games"
Washington Times, front page, January 14

Washington Post

"Costa Rican Asks Nicaragua, Rebels To Aid Peace Plan"
Washington Post, same day

John Chancellor

"Why this sea of troubles? One reason is the old American tendency to ignore the Canadians, belittle the Mexicans, and invest in the armies of Central America. Another reason is that diplomacy has been replaced in recent years by sloganeering and belligerence. Instead of making deals with the Sandinistas, the President said he wanted them to cry uncle."
John Chancellor on why anti-U.S. feelings are on the increase. NBC Nightly News, May 3.

Ed Rabel

"For months the Sandinistas have been trying to influence favorably U.S. public opinion by being flexible, permitting democracy. But now the Sandinistas simply say flexibility is not working, and they will adopt a harder line."
NBC's Ed Rabel on July 12, after the Sandinistas expelled the U.S. Ambassador, arrested demonstrators, closed down La Prensa and Radio Catolica.

Bill Moyers

"And in Nicaragua, the Contras used weapons from the 'enterprise' against civilians. It's a terrorist war they're fighting. Old men, women and children are caught in the middle or killed deliberately as the Contras use violence against peasants to pressure their government. Thousands have died. Even when the hearings were taking place in Washington this summer, a Contra raid in Nicaragua killed three children and a pregnant woman. As the casualties mounted, the secret government in Washington knew that the Contra leaders were not such noble freedom fighters after all."
Bill Moyers in The Secret Government, the Constitution in Crisis, repeated by PBS on September 14.
Jim Wright

Washington Post

"CIA Attempted to Provoke Sandinistas, Wright Asserts: Aim Was to Erode Support, Speaker Says"
Washington Post, September 21

Washington Times

"Wright draws fire for spilling secrets"
Washington Times, same day
Tax Reform

Terence Smith

"Critics of the tax reform bill always claimed it would help the rich. And it certainly benefited the California millionaire named Ronald Reagan. Tax returns made public today show the First Couple paid less tax on more income."
CBS News reporter Terence Smith, April 8.
Geraldo Rivera

Geraldo Rivera

"Is there a lesbian baby boom? That's the focus of this edition of Geraldo."
Geraldo Rivera introducing his April 20 show.

Geraldo Rivera

"What happens when the man you marry becomes a woman? Transsexuals and their wives are the focus of this edition of Geraldo."
Opening his show, May 16.
Phil Donahue

Phil Donahue

Phil Donahue: "Let's fight communism by making it safe for your mother to be on the New York subway. Let's fight communism that way. Let's make America work. You and the Reagan ideologues have spent us into oblivion -- our children are going to have to pay this bill -- and you step forward, like some religious figure saying, 'more bombs, more bullets, let's get the beachhead!' Now the beachhead, as, like, Managua's a beachhead like World War II. You're living like in an old '40's movie..."
Pat Buchanan: "Phil, calm down."
exchange on the April 25 Donahue.

Phil Donahue

"The [Catholic] Church has always thrived on ignorance and oppression."
Phil Donahue, interviewed by Pat Buchanan on CNN's Larry King Live, May 31.
Carl Rowan

Carl Rowan

"Anyone found in possession of a handgun except a legitimate officer of the law goes to jail -- period."
Carl Rowan in a 1981 column.

David Brinkley, Sam Donaldson, and George Will

David Brinkley: "Suppose somebody was breaking into your house at night, and you didn't have a gun. Wouldn't you wish you had one?"
Sam Donaldson: "No, I'd call the police immediately, I'd slam the doors, I'd cower under the bed, or in the closet..."
Brinkley: "George?"
George Will: "I'd call Carl Rowan."
exchange on This Week with David Brinkley, June 19.
Cows & Dogs & Cats

Colman McCarthy

"Every month a truck would come from some slaughterhouse. I had become friendly with the cows; I knew them as individuals....I first realized something was ethically wrong with the milk industry - and I was right in the middle of it. You don't really know your relationship with an animal until you're making your living off of it. But I don't think it's right to exploit animals for money, or for any reason....I want [pets] to be free of humans. I think we should have a 20-year plan to phase out breeding [dogs]. Then, after a few centuries, we can move on to cats."
Washington Post columnist Colman McCarthy in The Animals' Agenda, an animal rights magazine. Thanks to Washington Times columnist John Lofton, September 16.

Tom Mathews

"As a practical matter, the homeless won't get very far unless they can persuade a Republican to break with Ronald Reagan's policies -- or elect a Democrat."
Tom Mathews, Senior Editor of Newsweek, in the March 21 issue.
Quote of the Year

Washington Post

"Economic Surge Raises Concerns"
Washington Post, January 25.
Sam Donaldson

Sam Donaldson

"You'd better be glad I'm leaving the White House beat in November, because if Bush gets elected, I'd savage him."
ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson, at the Republican Convention, quoted in Newsweek's "Overheard" column, August 29.
The Primaries

Peter Jennings

"When he entered the race nearly a year ago he had the courage to say that as President he would probably have to raise taxes. And he never recovered from his courage."
ABC's Peter Jennings on Babbitt's withdrawal from the race, World News Tonight, February 18.

Bruce Morton

"Jesse Jackson toured Chicago and brought tears and excitement wherever he went. Watch him as he walks to the Robert Taylor project, home of some of this city's poorest people. They gave him what they had, they gave him love. This week Jackson has been king. Greeted like a rock star, in a campaign more emotional, perhaps, than Robert Kennedy's in 1968."
Reporter Bruce Morton, CBS Evening News, March 15.

Robert Scheer

"Dukakis is a centrist."
Los Angeles Times reporter Robert Scheer on The McLaughlin Group, weekend of June 11.

Washington Times

"Dukakis would junk SDI, MX missiles"
Washington Times, June 15

Washington Post

"Dukakis Adopts Centrist Stance: On National Security Policy, He Seeks to Reassure Establishment"
Washington Post, on same speech, next day


"George Bush wants to convince voters that Michael Dukakis is a big spender who will raise taxes, coddle criminals, and disarm America. In other words, a 'liberal.' But does the dreaded 'L' word stick to Dukakis? Probably not."
Newsweek table of contents summary of lead story in the July 4 issue.

Frederick Allen

"Not only is the campaign getting stale, it's getting a little gruesome, and Dukakis may be sending the wrong message. He may be convincing voters the issue is: 'Do you vote for Bush and hope he lives, or Dukakis and hope he doesn't?'"
CNN political analyst Frederick Allen, October 11.

Willie Horton

"Obviously, I am for Dukakis."
Convicted murderer Willie Horton in USA Today, October 19.
Democratic National Convention

Walter Cronkite

"Jesse Jackson succeeded in conducting a brilliant presidential campaign in which he enlisted white support as well as black support...and conducted a mainstream campaign."
Walter Cronkite, July 20.

Eric Sevareid

"He [Jackson] has become here, a kind of new, he's acquired a new status. He's almost like Hubert Humphrey was, a sort of conscience of the country."
Eric Sevareid during CBS News coverage, July 20.

Bruce Morton

"Nobody almost is an old-fashioned liberal anymore in a sense of 'let's throw some money at a problem.'"
Reporter Bruce Morton on CBS, July 19.

USA Today

"Today's Jane Pauley, perky as ever on her Wednesday morning broadcast, has resilience. She arose for work at 4 a.m., as usual, after having stayed up until the wee hours. The compelling draw to keep her out late Tuesday night? Visiting the convention. 'I'm a Jesse fan,' she says."
USA Today, July 21.
Republican National Convention

Charles Kuralt

"He's against outlawing abortion, he's against President Reagan's Star Wars defense, he worries about the poor and homeless...Nine delegates to this convention describe themselves as liberals....Harold Fergiss: a lonely, rather brave figure out there on Canal Street. Symbol of the kind of Republican that once was, but almost isn't anymore."
Charles Kuralt on CBS, August 17.

Laurence Barrett

"But for all the talk about Bush's asserting his political independence, the Vice President cannot hope to defeat Michael Dukakis without standing on the shoulders of the President. Bush appears, on present form at least, overmatched as a candidate, offering the voters little more than a resume without a rationale."
Time National Political Correspondent Laurence Barrett, August 22 issue.
Dan Quayle

Alan Simpson

"What is really hypocrisy, as I hear that word bandied about, is to watch some pontifical powdered poop asking Dan Quayle questions and know that that person was hiding out during the Vietnam War carrying a Viet Cong flag."
Senator Alan Simpson on NBC Nightly News, August 18.

Chris Matthews

"I've always said that I.Q. is a small part of the political world....The minute he speaks his own mind, he reminds us of why Lady Di isn't allowed to talk, the guy has nothing to say and when he speaks it's frightening....He explains his military policy in Europe on the basis of what [Indiana basketball coach] Bobby Knight believes, ignoring the history of World War II, this century's history. In terms of strategic policy, he looks to Tom Clancy for his authority. These are not metaphors he uses....What can he do? Can he talk or think? Which one can he do?"
San Francisco Examiner reporter and CBS This Morning "political columnist" Chris Matthews on The McLaughlin Group, September 17.

Hendrick Hertzberg

"From a distance of two feet Quayle looks younger than he is, his face smooth and creamy, as if unmarked by life. He's good looking, no denying that. If he were a woman he would be described as beautiful. His facial bones are delicate, and his mouth is what pulp fiction writers call sensual."
New Republic politics editor and former Newsweek reporter Hendrick Hertzberg, October 31.

Mark Miller

"After the 1988 campaign, no one can any longer argue that network news reflects a 'liberal bias.'...Telejournalists...are indeed a bunch of liberals. But their ideological slant has worked against any 'liberal bias' by the TV news, as reporters bend over backwards not to seem at all critical of Republicans."
Johns Hopkins University instructor Mark Crispin Miller, in The New York Times, November 16.

Gary Wills

"Bush won by default, and by fouls. His 'mandate' is to ignore the threats to our economy, sustain the Reagan heritage of let's pretend, and serve as figurehead for what America has become, a frightened empire hiding its problems from itself."
Conclusion of November 21 Time article by Gary Wills.
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