As printed in the
December 26, 2001 edition
Column by Patrick B. McGuigan in the Daily
things don't change, i.e., that childlike longing for Christmas morning, the
dash to open gifts, the anxiety as you begin to suspect that what you want
isn't there. It brings to mind the story about the kid digging around torn
wrapping paper and empty boxes, muttering, "I just know there's a pony
under this tree, somewhere."
As for Christmas traditions, few are now as
cherished for me as helping to decide the Media Research
"Notable Quotables" competition -- a task sometimes amusing,
oft-times infuriating. Of the program's 14 years, I've judged 12. Reviewing
bias in the "mainstream" television and print media, as compiled by
the center's outstanding staff, made my blood boil all over again.
The Swiss Press Corps Award for Remaining
Neutral in War Coverage went to David Westin, president of ABC News, for Oct.
27 comments on C-SPAN. Answering a question, he observed, "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....I can say the Pentagon got hit, I can say this is what their position
is, this is what our position is, but for me to take a position this was right
or wrong, I mean, that's perhaps for me in my private life, perhaps it's for
me dealing with my loved ones, perhaps it's for my minister at church. But as
a journalist I feel strongly that's something that I should not be taking a
position on. ..." Westin was also my
first choice -- but my next two picks were also worthy.
Steven Jukes, global head for Reuters News
Service, sent instructions to reporters after Sept. 11: "We all know that
one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and that Reuters upholds
the principle that we do not use the word terrorist....To be frank, it adds
little to call the attack on the World Trade Center a terrorist attack."
To be frank, the comment was reported by the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, a
liberal who deserves credit for frequently reporting news media excesses.
My third place "Swiss" finisher was
another ABC gem. Michele Norris, on "World News Tonight" for Oct.
12, assessed President Bush's noble appeal for U.S. children to contribute $1
each to help children in Afghanistan: "Behind the scenes there are quiet
grumblings about this dollar drive. There are concerns that American children
are being used in a propaganda campaign.
But school officials said they wouldn't dare air those concerns publicly, not
when America appears to be swept up by symbolism." Was the food delivered
over there also symbolic? And what "scenes" did Norris check behind?
Newsweek's Assistant Managing editor Evan
Thomas won the Department of Injustice Award for Denigrating John Ashcroft,
for this hateful screed, no doubt uttered this week: "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."
Oh wait, that wasn't this week, it was Dec. 23, 2000 on WUSA-TV's "Inside
Thomas actually got my fourth-place vote. I
much preferred Al Hunt, the left-wing Washington editor at the Wall Street
Journal, speaking on CNN's "Capital Gang" -- also on Dec. 23, 2000:
"I would quickly say that John Ashcroft across the board, I think ... has
been mean-spirited. He's a guy who led fights against special education
funds....I think Frank Keating, who I would have disagreed with strongly,
would have brought charm."
I have credentials here. Keating was my first
choice for attorney general. I know both Ashcroft and Keating. Hunt would have
found as many ways to trash our current governor as he has the former senator
from Missouri. (This despite Keating's well-known ability to charm liberal
journalists -- contact Tulsa World editorial writers for clarification).
Ted Turner, founder of Cable News Network, won
the Politics of Meaninglessness Award for the Silliest Analysis. As CNN
employees arrived at a retirement party for anchor Bernard Shaw, the king of
tolerance said to CNN employees who bore ashes on their foreheads in
observance of Ash Wednesday: "What are you, a bunch of Jesus freaks? You
ought to be working for Fox." My thanks to Brit Hume, of Fox News, for
reporting Turner's comments on March 6.
MRC's awards are great fun, of course -- but
it's scary to recall that most of these "winners" insist
"liberal media bias" is nothing but a myth propagated by