Best of NQ 2001 Contents
  Swiss Press Corps Award
  Media Hero Award
  Pushing Bush to the Left Award
  Poisoning the Planet Award
  Picking the Lockbox Award
  Carve Clinton Into Mount Rushmore Award
  Good Morning Morons Award
  Damn Those Conservatives Award
  Selected Not Elected Award
  Department of Injustice Award
  Politics of Meaninglessness Award
  Euro-Envy Award
  Nobody Here But Us Apolitical Observers Award
  Blame America First Award
  Glimpses of Patriotism Award
  Too Late for the Ballot
  2001 Award Judges
  Press Coverage

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Awards with Teeth
Media Watchdog Sinks
Into 'Year's Worst'
Columbus Dispatch

As printed in the December 31, 2001 edition


Editorial in the Columbus Dispatch

At the end of an especially newsy year, the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, has trotted out its 14th annual "Best Notable Quotables,'' a sort of reverse journalism-awards program for "the year's worst reporting."

The list makes for entertaining reading, although the term reporting is a misnomer. Most of the examples are not of news reporting but of the chitchat and navel-gazing that fills the space around the news within all media these days -- print, broadcast, online, you name it.

Take, for example, this excerpt from ABC's Good Morning America on July 24, in which ABC news personality and former Nixon administration employee Diane Sawyer fawned over ABC news personality and former Clinton administration employee George Stephanopoulos:

Sawyer: "Watching you and watching you cover the news over the past year, you are so much about passion for politics, and it doesn't matter to you, I mean -- I really mean this.''
Stephanopoulos: "Thank you.''
Sawyer: "You've been completely nonpartisan in covering the news.''

The Media Research Center, being a conservative watchdog group, chose its examples to back up its contention that the media have a liberal bias. Whether or not one shares that opinion, a common thread among the winning entries becomes obvious: The line between news on one side and promotional hype and celebrity worship on the other is not as distinct as it once was.

Here are some examples:

The Swiss Press Corps Award for Remaining Neutral in War Coverage went to David Westin, president of ABC News, for this profession of a complete lack of any trace of bias whatsoever, delivered during a panel discussion at Columbia University and aired Oct. 27 on C-SPAN:

"The Pentagon as a legitimate target? I actually don't have an opinion on that, and it's important I not have an opinion on that as I sit here in my capacity right now. . . .As a journalist, I feel strongly that's something that I should not be taking a position on.''

The Department of Injustice Award for Denigrating John Ashcroft goes to Newsweek assistant managing editor Evan Thomas for this un-David Westinlike revealing of his biases on Dec. 23, 2000, in comments on Washington's WUSA-TV:

"Well, you 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.''

The Carve Clinton Into Mount Rushmore Award was won by former UPI White House correspondent Helen Thomas, for this worshipful introduction of the former president at a meeting Oct. 9 of the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives:

"Throughout his eight years in office, President Clinton warned us that the next great menace was international terrorism. . . . He's also brought unprecedented prosperity to our nation, and because of that, President (Bush) can use the surplus Mr. Clinton left behind to pay for many of the nation's needs in this time of crisis. . . . He is the man from Hope, and that is what he has given us: hope. We miss him. Thank you, Mr. President.''

The Good Morning Morons Award goes to CBS Early Show anchor Bryant Gumbel, for starting this uninformed on-air nonargument on April 18:

Gumbel: "At the risk of starting an argument, are you a believer in global warming.''
Early Show weatherman Mark McEwen: "Absolutely.''
Early Show co-anchor June Clayson: "Of course.''
Early Show news anchor Julie Chen: "Yeah.''
Gumbel: "So am I. . . .And you wonder what it's gonna take. I mean, is it gonna take some kind of a real catastrophe? I mean, does an iceberg have to come floating down the Hudson before somebody stands up and goes, 'Oh yeah'?''

The Damn those Conservatives Awards went to Bill Maher, host of ABC's Politically Incorrect, for this exchange July 27 on CNN's Larry King Live:

Maher: "I do think, if it turns out that this beautiful young girl is gone, I think, and he (Gary Condit) is responsible in some way, you have to look to Ken Starr for a little bit of guilt.''
Larry King: "Why?''
Maher: Because, you know, Ken Starr made it so that you, in the old days, you had an affair with somebody, and, you know, OK, you had an affair. The press didn't report it. They didn't make a political criminal case of it. Now, it's almost like you have to get rid of them.''

And there is the Media Hero Award, which went to ABC News anchor Carole Simpson for this unrestrained "On My Mind'' commentary Jan. 7 for

"What an exhilarating moment it must have been for her -- the first first lady in history to be elected to public office. There, for all the naysayers to see, was the woman who had finally come into her own, free at last to be smart, outspoken, independent and provocative -- all qualities she had been forced as first lady to 'hide under a bushel.' Still, she was voted one of America's most admired women. Just wait. You ain't seen nothin' yet.''

Unfortunately, when it comes to fawning over political celebrities, Americans everywhere have seen plenty.

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