Best of NQ 1999 Contents
  The Alec Baldwin Award
  Soft on Crime Award
  China Syndrome Award
  I Am Woman Award
  Media Hero Award
  Damn Those Conservatives Award
  Good Morning Morons Award
  Littleton Shop of Horrors Award
  Shooting the Constitution Award
  Politics of Meaninglessness Award
  See No Evil Award
  Politics of Personal Destruction Award
  Doris Kearns Goodwin Award
  Too Late for the Ballot
  Quote of the Year
  1999 Award Judges
  Press Coverage

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  30-Day Archive
  Media Reality Check
  Notable Quotables
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The Best Notable Quotables of 1999:

The Twelfth Annual Awards for the
Year’s Worst Reporting

I Am Woman Award
(for Hillary Rodham Worshipping)

First Place

Diane Sawyer


"She emerged on health care, only to beat a very bruised retreat. She clearly hated being thought of as just Bill Clinton’s 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. [63]

"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 seniority-conscious Senate?"
-- Washington Post reporter Peter Baker in an April 1 news story about Hillary Clinton’s trip to Africa. [50]

"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. It’s 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. [42]
Part 1      Part 2

"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 didn’t we choose her? Sentimentally, a lot of us wanted to; I personally was fascinated and impressed by her."
-- Time Managing Editor Walter Isaacson’s "To Our Readers" article on Person of Year pick, Dec. 28/Jan. 4. [33]

"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 husband?"
-- CNN’s Christiane Amanpour to Hillary Clinton in Macedonia after a tour of refugee camps, May 14. [31]


Media Hero Award

First Place

"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. [59]

"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. [51]

"Now Janet Reno’s thing is that she doesn’t know many people in this town. I don’t think she’s 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 she’s honest, honest Janet Reno."
-- Washington Post writer Juan Williams on Fox News Sunday, September 5. [50]

"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 he’d 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 ABC’s World News Tonight, May 12. [27]

"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 I’d heard enough.’...His friends would say that’s classic Vernon Jordan: smart, careful, always ahead of the game. He’s a dazzling contradiction, a man who can charm an entire room and never give away his secrets, a man who fixes other people’s 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. [24]


Damn Those Conservatives Award

First Place

"There is a scene [in Roots] where kidnapped African Kunta Kinte won’t 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. ‘That’s 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 O’Neal Parker, on watching Roots with her 20-year-old cousin, August 8 "Style" section piece. [65]


"Let’s talk a little bit more about the right wing because I know that’s 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."
-- Today’s 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. [56]

"The term wacko right-winger is redundant. For example, they’re the only people who don’t 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 King’s People" item in USA Today, March 8. [43]

"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 can’t 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, don’t explain this. I mean the only thing that could explain this love of tax cuts is a lowered IQ."
-- Time’s Margaret Carlson, July 24 Capital Gang. [42]

Washington Week in Review moderator Gwen Ifill: "Tom Reid is with us in London, and I’m really curious about the degree to which in London and abroad you’re hearing whether, I’m 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 don’t care, you know, what the allies are saying. We don’t trust the nuclear test-ban treaty anyway. I think what it showed is they don’t really care about the world at all."
-- Oct. 15 exchange on rejection of test ban treaty. [19]




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