The Best Notable Quotables of 1999:
The Twelfth Annual Awards for the
Year’s Worst Reporting
I Am Woman Award
(for Hillary Rodham Worshipping)
|"She emerged on health care, only to beat a very bruised retreat. She clearly
hated being thought of as just Bill Clintons wife. But ironically, it would take his
scandals, finally, to free her. Finally, last November 1998, Hillary Clinton showed the
world what she could do on the campaign trail without him. Political mastery, every bit as
dazzling as his, the thoughtful speech, unapologetically strong, emboldening Democrats,
electing Senators. So her friends say she has really earned this campaign, this moment, if
she chooses, earned it by changing herself, searching, stumbling, and at the end, by
standing, not by her man, but by herself."
-- Co-host Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America, March 12. 
"Forget the Senate. Over the last 12 days, Hillary Rodham Clinton has
looked and sounded more like a candidate for Secretary of State. There she was in Egypt,
gently urging tolerance for the minority Coptic Christians. There she was in Tunisia,
lashing out at Islamic radicals in other countries who oppress women. And here she was in
Morocco, speaking out on everything from the Middle East peace process to the NATO
airstrikes in Yugoslavia....
"But the sight of the First Lady back on the world stage where she feels so
sure-footed brought into sharp focus the peculiar trade-offs facing her as she decides
whether to run next year....How does a woman who eagerly told an audience this morning
about education and economics in Guatemala and Uganda turn her attention to the
pork-and-potholes issues that arise in places like Utica and Ithaca? How does a woman
whose international profile is so high that bystanders in Africa two years ago referred to
her as the queen of the world adjust to becoming a low-ranking member of the
-- Washington Post reporter Peter Baker in an April 1 news story about Hillary
Clintons trip to Africa. 
"Once a political lightning rod, today she is political lightning. A crowd-pleaser
and first-class fundraiser, a person under enormous pressure to step into the arena. This
time on her own....Polls show she is one of the most admired women in America. But even
after seven years in the spotlight, she remains a riddle for many people. Its hard
to know what keeps her going through marital problems made public, political fights turned
ugly, through triumphs, disasters and always the demands of her work. Tonight we get some
answers about how she does it from the only person in the world who really knows."
-- Dan Rather on Hillary Clinton in his May 26 60 Minutes II interview. 
"For a while...she was our leading contender. Her strength and her almost surreal
ability to assert her dignity were remarkable to some and mystifying to others. She also,
for many months, helped determine how the nation framed the scandal debate by portraying
it as a partisan battle and disgusting prosecutorial invasion of personal privacy. So why
didnt we choose her? Sentimentally, a lot of us wanted to; I personally was
fascinated and impressed by her."
-- Time Managing Editor Walter Isaacsons "To Our Readers"
article on Person of Year pick, Dec. 28/Jan. 4. 
"A lot of the women that I meet from traveling overseas are very impressed by you and
admire your dignity. A lot of the people you meet are people who suffered, people you saw
today, and who believe that they identify with you because they have seen you suffer. And
in a speech in Africa last year, you spoke about living for hope and reconciliation,
living for forgiveness and reconstruction, and living for a new life have you been
able to apply that to your own circumstances? Have you been able to forgive your
-- CNNs Christiane Amanpour to Hillary Clinton in Macedonia after a tour of
refugee camps, May 14. 
Media Hero Award
"Yet his achievements as a Senator have towered over his time, changing the lives
of far more Americans than remember the name Mary Jo Kopechne....He deserves recognition
not just as the leading Senator of his time but also as one of the greats in the history
of this singular institution, wise in its workings, especially its demand that a Senator
be more than partisan to accomplish much."
-- Excerpt in the August 2 Time from a forthcoming biography of Ted Kennedy by New
York Times reporter Adam Clymer. 
"If his private life is shaped by his love for children and stepchildren, his
public one is still shaped by his concern for the little guy, the one who parks your car,
rings the cash register at the convenience store, catches the early bus. As he left town
he was trying to expand health care, and when he comes back from burying his nephew, he
will be fighting to raise the minimum wage."
-- Time columnist Margaret Carlson on Ted Kennedy, August 2. 
"Now Janet Renos thing is that she doesnt know many people in this town.
I dont think shes done much to socialize, to befriend people, to build a
constituency, even with the Clintons. You know, I heard Donna Shalala say the other day
she [Reno] now has Abe Lincoln status. People just assume shes honest, honest Janet
-- Washington Post writer Juan Williams on Fox News Sunday, September 5.
"Good evening. The man who presided over the best economy in a generation is going
back to private life. The Secretary of the Treasury Bob Rubin, who said today that he
really was resigning, has been described in such glowing terms that hed begun to
sound indispensable. All sorts of people today, including the President, have called him
the best Treasury Secretary since Alexander Hamilton, who was the first Secretary in 1789
and did an enormous amount to put the United States on firm financial footing."
-- Peter Jennings starting ABCs World News Tonight, May 12. 
"In a grand jury appearance last March, he [Vernon Jordan] testified that Lewinsky
told him she did not have sex with the President, though he added he purposely did not
press her for details, saying, I thought Id heard enough....His friends
would say thats classic Vernon Jordan: smart, careful, always ahead of the game.
Hes a dazzling contradiction, a man who can charm an entire room and never give away
his secrets, a man who fixes other peoples problems and never seems to break a sweat
over his own....Vernon Jordan, grandson of an African-American sharecropper, the only
black man in his class at DePaul University, went from tending bar at an all-white club
for lawyers, to become himself one of the most influential lawyers in America...."
-- Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer, February 2. 
Damn Those Conservatives Award
"There is a scene [in Roots] where kidnapped African Kunta Kinte
wont settle down in his chains. Want me to give him a stripe or two,
boss? the old slave, Fiddler, asks his Master Reynolds. Do as I say,
Fiddler, Reynolds answers. Thats all I expect from any of my
niggers. Oh, I love you, Massa Reynolds, Fiddler tells him. And
instantly, my mind draws political parallels. Ward Connerly, I think to myself. Armstrong
Williams. Shelby Steele. Hyperbole, some might say. I say dead-on. Clarence
Thomas, I say to my Cousin Kim. And she just stares at me. She may be a little
tender yet for racial metaphors. I see them everywhere."
-- Washington Post reporter Lonnae ONeal Parker, on watching Roots
with her 20-year-old cousin, August 8 "Style" section piece. 
"Lets talk a little bit more about the right wing because I know
thats something you feel very strongly about. But this is actually not necessarily
about the right wing, but perhaps a climate that some say has been established by
religious zealots or Christian conservatives. There have been two recent incidents in the
news I think that upset most people in this country, that is the dragging death of James
Byrd Junior and the beating death of Matthew Shepard. I just would like you to reflect on
whether you feel people in this country are increasingly intolerant, mean-spirited,
etcetera, and what, if anything, can be done about that because a lot of people get very
discouraged when they hear and see this kind of brutality taking place."
-- Todays Katie Couric to former Texas Governor Ann Richards as she hosted
a 92nd Street Y appearance in New York City on March 3 shown by C-SPAN April 3. 
"The term wacko right-winger is redundant. For example, theyre the only people
who dont like being called compassionate. Someone remarked that many now defend the
tobacco industry because its products kill people early, saving us dollars in having to
care for aged people."
-- "Larry Kings People" item in USA Today, March 8. 
"The vocabulary has changed so that tax cuts now look like irresponsible spending and
spending on investments and education and Medicare looks like the responsible thing to do
because if I get $100 back, I cant go fix a school or clean a river, and people are
more interested in these things than they are in the tax cut, and the poll numbers, you
know, dont explain this. I mean the only thing that could explain this love of tax
cuts is a lowered IQ."
-- Times Margaret Carlson, July 24 Capital Gang. 
Washington Week in Review moderator Gwen Ifill: "Tom Reid is with us in
London, and Im really curious about the degree to which in London and abroad
youre hearing whether, Im just curious, are people laughing at us?"
T.R. Reid, The Washington Post: "You know, I think they are. The tone,
actually, is very harsh: You call this leadership? The Senate vote was irresponsible. It
was disgraceful. It was dangerous. But you know, at some level, I think they actually
loved this....they love this in the British media because it portrays Americans as kind
of, you know, humorless fanatics, and they kind of believe that about us, anyway."
ABC News reporter Martha Raddatz: "...I think Trent Lott may, I mean, Trent
Lott talks about, well, we dont care, you know, what the allies are saying. We
dont trust the nuclear test-ban treaty anyway. I think what it showed is they
dont really care about the world at all."
-- Oct. 15 exchange on rejection of test ban treaty. 
View the 8-page printed version of this newsletter in
Adobe Acrobat PDF
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe