-- 'in the mist'
As printed in the December
31, 1999 edition
Column by Patrick B. McGuigan in the Daily
The 12th annual
"Best Notable Quotables" confirmed suspicions of accelerating malevolence toward conservatives in the nation's print and broadcast newsrooms. Led by
L. Brent Bozell III of the Media Research
Center, the process of judging the worst ("best"?) liberal bias has usually been odd fun.
But it's getting a bit scary. Past years brought one or two truly hateful comments about conservatives -- or a cluster of particularly shameless media apologia for liberal pols. Now, virtually every "nominee" distills world-class bigotry.
Wednesday's column listed winners for "Media Hero," "Alec Baldwin Hate Speech" and "Good Morning Morons." Today, I'll sketch results in two other categories.
For the "Damn Those Conservatives Award," the overall winner (my third choice) -- an example of same-race racism as we begin the final year of the old millennium -- comes from Lonnae O'Neal Parker of the Washington Post, in an Aug. 8 essay:
"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 n-----s.' '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."
Hyperbole? Hatred is a better word. You've heard a lot about John Rocker lately. Had you read Parker's words before now?
My first choice for this category was an utterance from Margaret Carlson on CNN's "Capital Gang" last July:
"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."
Conservatives who back smaller government, lower taxes and other conservative reforms suffer from lower intelligence than liberal neighbors? That explains it, I guess.
The "Quote of the
Year" was an example of journalistic fawning that would generate endless disdain if copied by a journalist questioning a conservative politician -- but who among us is still surprised by double standards in the big news media? Here's some of what ABC News anchor Carole Simpson said to Bill Clinton in a taped interview for "World News Tonight" on Nov. 7:
Simpson to Bill Clinton: "You've got the big plane, you've got the big house, you've got the cars, the protection. Aren't you going to suffer great post-partum depression after you leave office?"...
Simpson to Clinton while inside an Arkansas tomato factory: "I have to bask in this moment, for a moment, because I am here talking to the most powerful man on the planet, who was a poor boy from Arkansas ..."
Clinton: "A place like this."
Simpson: "Place like this. I am an African- American woman, grew up working class on the south side of Chicago and this is a pretty special moment for me to be here talking to you. How does it feel talking to me? That I made it, too, when people said I wouldn't be able to?"
Quite obsequious, but my vote went to Time magazine's Lance Morrow, in a July 12 "Viewpoint" piece: "[W]e are in the middle of a primal American saga and the important part is yet to come. Bill Clinton may be merely the prequel, the President of lesser moment -- except, so to speak, as the horse she rode in on...
"I think I see a sort of Celtic mist forming around Hillary as a new archetype (somewhere between Eleanor and Evita, transcending both) at a moment when the civilization pivots, at last, decisively -- perhaps for the first time since the advent of Christian patriarchy two millenniums ago -- toward woman."
Such pivotal stuff -- printed or broadcast by "mainstream" news organizations -- is beyond parody. The Media Research Center records every major network news broadcast and monitors key newspapers and magazines regularly. For information, contact:
Media Research Center, 325 S. Patrick St., Alexandria, VA, 22314, telephone: (703) 683-9733. Or visit its Web site: