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From the September - October 1988 MediaWatch

Bites of Quayle

Page Five

During the August 23 Nightline Ted Koppel drove home the media's case against the Indiana Senator: "Quayle and his supporters throw a protective arm around the National Guard as though the institution itself were under attack. It, of course, is not. He and his apparent mediocrity and hypocrisy are."

On the Op-ed page of the September 1 Wall Street Journal NBC News President Michael Gartner offered his assessment of Quayle: "His academic record is mediocre, his memory (just how did he get into the National Guard?) is mediocre, his honesty (he fudged his resume) is mediocre and his judgement (who would go off on a golfing weekend, however innocent, with two pals and a female lobbyist?)is mediocre."

"The fact of the matter is that I've always said that I.Q. is a small part of the political world," San Francisco Examiner Washington reporter Christopher Matthews charged on the Sept. 17 McLaughlin Group. Matthews went on to blast Quayle: "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."

Referring to a couple misstatements Quayle made, Matthews claimed: "He apparently doesn't know the Holocaust occurred off this continent, he thinks it occurred on this continent. He doesn't know it occurred in this century...He explains his military policy in Europe on the basis of what Bobby Knight believes. What can he do? Can he talk or think? Which one can he do?"

Just a few days before CBS This Morning viewers saw Matthews, identified only as the show's "political columnist," smirk and snicker through a report he delivered on the same subject. CBS, however, failed to warn its audience that Matthews is a former top aide to retired House Speaker Tip O'Neill.

Media overkill provoked a response from Washington Post Ombudsman Richard Harwood who sharply criticized the staff of his paper. "We had insufficient hard evidence at the beginning to justify the excessive coverage that emanated from New Orleans. We were late in working the records offices and officers in both Indiana and the Pentagon. As a result, we published tentative and contradictory information and hearsay," he wrote.

In an internal memo obtained by The Washington Times, he continued: "It was not an issue in the presidential campaigns of Gephardt, Hart, or Biden. It has not been made an issue in the case of Dukakis who found refuge at Swathmore while tens of thousands of World War II veterans were called back to pump it through the paddies and mountains of Korea."

Most Americans agreed. A Gallup Poll found 55 percent believed news organizations treated Quayle unfairly.

Maybe they agreed with what Senator Alan Simpson concluded: "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."


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