The Best Notable Quotables of 2001:
The Fourteenth Annual Awards for the
Year’s Worst Reporting
of Injustice Award
for Denigrating John Ashcroft
know, Attorney General is actually an important job. Why can’t they
buy off the right wing with unimportant jobs? I mean, this is a sop, I
assume, to buy off the wing nuts, but it’s like giving, I mean, the
Attorney General counts, it matters."
– Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas on
Inside Washington, December 23, 2000. [55 points]
John Ashcroft’s America, he said in 1999, ‘We have no king
but Jesus.’ But President-elect George W. Bush has nominated
Ashcroft to the position of Attorney General of the United
States. In the venerable halls of the Justice Department, where
he will work, it is the Constitution that is king....Ashcroft
will need to assure the nation that he can enforce the
Constitution and the laws of Congress when they run contrary to
the laws of Jesus, as they surely will. A larger question,
spoken or unspoken, will be: Can a deeply religious person be
– Opening of Jan. 16 USA Today op-ed piece by
USA Today Supreme Court reporter Tony Mauro. 
"What do you think
Senator Ashcroft’s distortion of your record and tarnishing of your
good name says about his character?"
– CBS’s Bryant Gumbel to Missouri Supreme Court judge
Ronnie White, January 19 Early Show. 
"Good evening on this
Martin Luther King holiday, a prelude to what begins tomorrow in
Washington: The confirmation hearings for John Ashcroft, the former
Missouri Senator who is George W. Bush’s choice to be Attorney
General. Race will be a major issue in the contentious hearings,
especially since Ashcroft defended the Confederate agenda of Robert E.
Lee in an interview with the Southern
Partisan, a magazine promoting the culture of the Old
– Tom Brokaw, January 15 NBC Nightly News. 
of Meaninglessness Award
for the Silliest Analysis
"What are you, a bunch of Jesus
freaks? You ought to be working for Fox."
– CNN founder Ted Turner on Ash Wednesday to CNN employees
with ash marks on their foreheads at Bernard Shaw’s retirement
party, as reported March 6 on FNC’s Special Report with
Brit Hume. [73 points]
"I want to ask you flat out, do you think President Clinton’s
an honest man?"
Dan Rather: "Yes, I think he’s an honest
O’Reilly: "Do you, really?"
Rather: "I do."
O’Reilly: "Even though he lied to Jim Lehrer’s
face about the Lewinsky case?"
Rather: "Who among us has not lied about
O’Reilly: "Well, I didn’t lie to anybody’s
face on national television. I don’t think you have, have you?"
Rather: "I don’t think I ever have. I hope I
never have. But, look, it’s one thing-"
O’Reilly: "How can you say he’s an honest guy
Rather: "Well, because I think he is. I think at
core he’s an honest person. I know that you have a different view. I
know that you consider it sort of astonishing anybody would say so,
but I think you can be an honest person and lie about any number of
– Exchange on Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor,
May 15. 
"You said that the air strikes are
deliberately designed not to hit residential centers, but you also say
that the Taliban is hiding weapons, stockpiling weapons in residential
areas. Have you ruled out the possibility of dropping leaflets days in
advance of an air strike to get residents out and saying, ‘This
could become a military target’? Is that something, without
discussing future operations, could you see that possibly coming to
– Question from an unidentified male reporter to Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Oct. 30 military briefing. 
"People send me e-mails full of
dopey attacks – ‘I bet you’ve never written anything positive
about a Republican in your whole life’ – obviously never having
read any of the columns I wrote praising John McCain during the
– Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter, quoted by Washington
Post media writer Howard Kurtz, June 4. 
Euro-Envy Award for
Advocating More Government Spending
|NBC News reporter
Keith Miller in Paris: "Break out the band, bring on
the drinks. The French are calling it a miracle. A government-mandated
35-hour work week is changing the French way of life. Two years ago,
in an effort to create more jobs, the government imposed a shorter
work week on large companies, forcing them to hire more
workers....Sixty percent of those on the job say their lives have
improved. These American women, all working in France, have time for
lunch and a life."
Avivah Wittenberg-Cox: "More Americans should be more
aware that an economy as successful as the French one managed to be
successful without giving up everything else in life."
Katie Couric, following the end of Miller’s taped piece:
"So great that young mother being able to come home at three
every day and spend that time with her child. Isn’t that nice? The
French, they’ve got it right, don’t they?"
– NBC’s Today, August 1. [78 points]
"The U.S. is
actually the least generous of the industrialized nations. In
Sweden, a new mother gets 18 months of maternity and parental
leave, and she gets 80 percent of her salary for the first year.
Mother or father can take the parental leave any time until a
child is eight. England gives 18 weeks maternity leave. For the
first six weeks, a mother gets 90 percent of her salary from the
government and $86 a week thereafter. German women get two
months of fully paid leave after giving birth. The government
and the company kick in, and either parent has the option of
three full years in parental leave with some of their salary
paid and their jobs protected."
– Peter Jennings, April 19 World News Tonight,
following a story on a study showing more aggression in children
who attend day care. 
"You know, the
U.S. is the only industrialized nation, I didn’t know this
until today, that doesn’t spend federal money promoting
tourism. Do you think it should?"
– Question from NBC’s Katie Couric to Maryland Governor
Parris Glendening on the October 1 Today. Glendening, a
liberal Democrat, said no. 
"More trouble at
the nation’s amusement parks, two dozen people injured. Why
won’t Congress let the government regulate those parks?"
– ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas, previewing an upcoming story on
the July 31 World News Tonight. 
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