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Anthology of On-Air "Gumbel Stumbles"

15 Years of Personal Liberal Bias Impeding Professional Journalism -- and he's back November 1!


The Opposite of Liberal
Not Conservative, but "Racist"

To Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater, January 19 Today – "Blacks have looked at the past eight years and seen this administration retreat from civil rights, retreat from affirmative action, make South Africa no priority, continue to see a greater disparity economically between blacks and whites, foster a spirit of racism that hasn’t been seen in 20-plus years."

"Largely as a result of the policies and priorities of the Reagan administration, more people are becoming poor and staying poor in this country than at any time since World War II." – July 17 Today.

Previewing his prime-time special The Racial Attitudes and Consciousness Exam (RACE), September 5 Today – "This test is not going to tell you whether you’re a racist or a liberal."



At "The Heart" of All "Potential Solutions"

"It is certain the President won’t mention the T word, and yet taxes are very much at the heart of what all our potential solutions are. How long can both sides pretend that a hike’s not needed?" – January 31 Today.

"The missteps, poor efforts, and setbacks brought on by the Reagan years have made this a more sober Earth Day. The task seems larger now." – April 20 Today.

Leading off Today, May 9 – "The bottom line is more tax money is going to be needed. Just how much will be the primary issue on the agenda when Congressional leaders meet with the President later today, Wednesday, May the 9th, 1990. And good morning, welcome to Today. It’s a Wednesday morning, a day when the budget picture, frankly, seems gloomier than ever. It now seems the time has come to pay the fiddler for our costly dance of the Reagan years."

Exchange on Today, October 5 –
Bob Squier, Democratic Strategist: "I think that it was a game of chicken. I think what you had was Gingrich, who is supposed to be part of the leadership, leading people literally out of the deal."
Bryant Gumbel: "Acting irresponsibly."
Gumbel: "....Is this the legacy of Ronald Reagan politics, I mean, feel-good politics of the ‘80s, no-responsibility politics of the ‘80s?"
Roger Ailes, Republican Strategist: "I think that’s a misnomer..."
Gumbel: "But weren’t the ‘80s about spending what we didn’t have? And that was Ronald Reagan."



Sexual Harassment
Reagan Years "Where the Problem Began"

To reporter Michele Gillen, September 20 Today – "Tonight the NBC News program Exposé, looks at incidence of sexual harassment in [federal low-income] housing....Well, I guess that’s where the problem began. Actually, it was when the budget was taken out of the affordable housing market during the Reagan years and thus, the problem came about."

Exchange on Today, November 13 –
Reporter Lea Thompson: "The Consumer Product Safety Commission can stop manufacturing; it can fine; it can even seize clothes right off the rack if PJ’s don’t meet flammability standards. None of that’s happened. So far the agency has only hoped a manufacturer will take its advice So you can’t depend on government police to do this for you. We did find this flammable sleepwear everywhere we went."
Gumbel: "Lea, Lea, real quick. Why is the government abdicating its responsibility on this? Is this another holdover from the Reagan years and the cutbacks?"
Thompson: "Absolutely. And somebody’s gotta do something."



Reagan Years:
"Great American Middle Class... in ever-deepening trouble."

"The boom years following World War II saw the economy take off, giving rise to the growth of the great American middle class. The rising standard of living meant homes, cars, TVS, college for the kids – all in all, a piece of the American dream. But in the Reagan years, economic erosion set in, so much so that the middle class now finds itself in ever-deepening trouble." – January 22 Today.

On the Los Angeles riots, April 30, 1992 Today (Gumbel refused to condemn the rioters) – "We keep looking for some good to come out of this. Maybe it might help in putting race relations back on the front burner after they’ve been subjugated so long as a result of the Reagan years."

"George Bush has been at the focal point of incidents that have exacerbated race relations in this country....the Willie Horton affair, for example. Making affirmative action a front-and-center proposal. Constantly discussing welfare as a problem in this country. Things that really separate the races rather than bring them together." – Today, May 18.



The Race Card as Get Out of Jail Free Card
The "Why Shouldn’t I?" Defense

To Roger Ailes, Today February 9 – "Rich Bond. As he stepped down as RNC chair, he had some parting shots for the religious right and fringe fanatics like Phyllis Schlafly. What did you think of his remarks?"

To author Gerald Swanson, March 17 Today – "It’s early yet, but for at least trying to address the deficit in a more serious fashion than anyone in 12 years, what kind of early marks do you give Bill Clinton?"

To the American Medical Association’s Richard Corlin, March 31 Today – "In the greedy excesses of the Reagan years, the mean income of the average physician nearly doubled, from $88,000 to $170,000. Was that warranted?"

To U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), April 15 Today – "If I’m a young black man in South Central L.A., where poverty is rampant and unemployment is skyrocketing, I see that Washington’s promises of a year ago have gone unfulfilled, I see that perhaps for a second time, the court’s inability to mete out justice in a blind fashion, why shouldn’t I vent my anger?"

"At alarming rates, America is losing its young people to gunfire and violence. Due in great part to the sad lack of gun control, murder is the second leading cause of teenage death in this country." – Today, June 28.



Second Amendment
Gun Ownership "Sickening"

To Mother Jones Editor Jeffrey Klein, January 7 – "Do you give Bill Clinton credit for addressing serious issues that went untouched for 12 years — deficit reduction, gun control, world trade, health care. He has certainly taken on tough questions, and made them not a question of if, but how much."

"Straight ahead in this half hour we’ll talk about a new book called Lethal Passage. It deals with America’s sickening love affair with guns." – Today, February 23.

To criminal-turned-Washington Post reporter Nathan McCall, March 22 Today – "It’s been written that being black in America is like being a witness at your own lynching. Why didn’t your experience make you more resentful than you are today?"

"We’ve got an awful lot to talk about this week, including the sexual harassment suit against the President. Of course, in that one, it’s a little tough to figure out who’s really being harassed." – Today, May 10.

To National Urban League President Hugh Price, July 28 Today – "In the wake of the somewhat new hostilities bred in the Reagan ‘80s, how do you assess the state of race relations in this country today?"

To U.S. Rep.-elect J.C. Watts (R-Okla.), November 9 Today – "You’re aligned to a party which owes many of its victories to the so-called religious right and other conservative extremists who are historically insensitive to minority concerns. That doesn’t bother you?"

To Rep. John Kasich (R-Ohio), November 14 Today – "Your critics have called your budget intentions, as you well know, Voodoo II. Is it your intention to turn back the clock and go back to the same Reaganomics that ballooned the deficit in the first place?"

Exchange on November 18 Today
Bryant Gumbel: "You’re a moderate, pro-choice Republican. Are you totally comfortable with some of the extremists and ideologues that seem headed for the 104th Congress and may dominate the Republican Party?"
Rep.-elect Sonny Bono: "I’m my own man, and so when I get there, I will just be me. In general, the philosophy I agree with totally, so I’ll get along fine there. The change Newt is talking about I’m all for. I’m all for the term limits. I’m all for the balanced budget amendment."
Gumbel: "You’re all for school prayer? You’re all for gutting social programs?"



Conservatives Don’t Care Because Bottled Water
"Economically Feasible"

To newly-elected House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, January 4 Today – "You called Gingrich and his ilk, your words, ‘trickle-down terrorists who base their agenda on division, exclusion, and fear.’ Do you think middle class Americans are in need of protection from that group?"

To Senator Ted Kennedy, March 15 Today – "Janet Reno has asked for an independent counsel to investigate charges against HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown is being investigated. Questions have been raised about Transportation Secretary Federico Pena. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy resigned under pressure, as did Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders. The Clinton White House seems to be having a hard time retaining high-profile minorities particularly. Do you think, Senator, they are being held to a higher standard in Washington than their white predecessors?"

"The bombing in Oklahoma City has focused renewed attention on the rhetoric that’s been coming from the right and those who cater to angry white men. While no one’s suggesting right-wing radio jocks approve of violence, the extent to which their approach fosters violence is being questioned by many observers, including the President....Right-wing talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Bob Grant, Oliver North, G. Gordon Liddy, Michael Reagan, and others take to the air every day with basically the same format: detail a problem, blame the government or a group, and invite invective from like-minded people. Never do most of the radio hosts encourage outright violence, but the extent to which their attitudes may embolden and encourage some extremists has clearly become an issue." – Today, April 25.

To Natural Resources Defense Council lawyer Erik Olson, June 1 Today – "This comes at a time when Republicans are looking to gut the Clean Water Act and also the Safe Drinking Water Act. What are our options? Are we now forced to boil water because bottled water is not an economically feasible option for a lot of people?"

From TV Guide’s June 17 interview –
TV Guide: "Imagine NBC gives you a blank check and says, `Go find the person to put in the chair next to you.’ Only one caveat: It can’t be Katie or Jane....Come on, just for fun. A choice of three." 
Bryant Gumbel: "Okay, here goes: my wife, June, to keep things peaceful at home. Oprah Winfrey, because she can do no wrong. And Hillary Clinton, just to tick off the right-wing extremists."

"Two weeks after his acquittal, we’ll see how O.J. Simpson is still being treated as if he were guilty." – October 16 Today.



Welfare Reform
Pray for the Children?

To Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes, January 18 Today – "Steve, isn’t this a souped-up version of the same kind of trickle-down Reaganomics that we saw through already? Lower taxes were supposed to spur growth. Instead we got record deficits."

Some of Bryant Gumbel’s questions to former Clinton business partner and convicted felon Susan McDougal and her attorney, September 17 Today:

  • "Have you any doubt that Kenneth Starr and his deputies are pursuing an agenda that is purely political?"

  • "Bobby McDaniel, you said that your client is being used as a political pawn. Have you any legal recourse but to sit there and watch this unfold?"

  • "Given that you think this is all just a Republican witch hunt, do you expect the pressure to ease somewhat after the election?"

To Children’s Defense Fund leader Marian Wright Edelman, September 23 Today – "In light of the new welfare reform bill, do you think the children need more prayers than ever before?"

Exchange on Today, Oct. 2 –
Bryant Gumbel: "Do you think if those two victims had been, say, Marguerite, his first wife, and Al Cowlings, his best friend, that there would have been the same amount [of media attention]?"
Cochran: "Absolutely not. And I think any person who wants to be honest about it would say the same."
Gumbel: "Why? Because America doesn't care about black victims?"

Bryant Gumbel to reporter Lou Cannon, October 10 MSNBC InterNight – "Lou, I know you feel as if Reagan had few, if any, character flaws. But let me ask you this. When one sidesteps, or refuses to acknowledge the consequences of their policies or actions, why shouldn’t that be viewed as a character flaw? Or when one lies. For example, let me roll a clip and then we’ll come back. This one deals with Iran-Contra."

Referring to Ronald Reagan on the October 10 MSNBC InterNight – "While he appeared to be empathetic, his policies caused enormous suffering for those who were least able to afford it."

To David Maraniss, MSNBC’s InterNight, October 10 – "In the first two years this is a man [Clinton] who tried his best to balance the budget, to reform health care, to fight for gay rights, to support personal freedoms. Couldn’t those be considered doing the right things, evidence of true character?"



"Fair Statement:"
"Very Difficult for a Black Man" to be Conservative

"I don’t know if I have a liberal bent...But it is fair to say it’s very difficult for a black man in this country to be of a conservative bent. That’s a fair statement. It’s very difficult to be an African-American male, and have an African-American son who is going to be 18 years of age, and hear things like cops want to crack down and send more to prison, to hear calls for tougher statutes, less welfare, less programs for the poor, and less things for people of color. If that says I’m not conservative, so be it." – In the January 2 USA Today, the day before his last morning as co-host of NBC’s Today.

"I said to somebody that if O.J. killed his first wife, Marguerite [who is black], and her friend, then do I think George Will and William F. Buckley would have written about it? No way. Not on God’s green earth. They wouldn’t have even noticed." – In a Los Angeles Times Magazine profile, January 12 (Brackets theirs).

"It’s hard to be defined as a conservative if you’re a black man and care about black people. I think it’s very difficult. Basically...‘conservative’ says the status quo is good. I mean, how can you look out there at the vast majority of people of color and say, ‘Oh, yes. This is something I can applaud. It’s a situation I’d like to keep. This is obviously working.’ I don’t see that. There are some conservatives of great character and some conservatives with great caring who would argue that proper conservatism says, ‘Oh, no, we do want to change the status quo, but we want to do it in a different fashion than liberals want to do it’; i.e., Jack Kemp. I don’t have a problem with that." – In the September 5-7 USA Weekend.



"Miss Tripp:"
The ‘When Did You Stop Beating Your Wife?’ Treatment

To CBS News reporter Scott Pelley, January 21 Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel – "Scott, as you and I both know, a popular move these days is to make a titillating charge and then have the media create the frenzy. Given Kenneth Starr’s track record, should we suspect that he’s trying to do with innuendo that which he has been unable to do with evidence?"

To James Carville, January 28 Public Eye on CBS – "Where does Lewinsky fit into this conspiracy theory? Is she victimizing the President or is she too a victim?"

"And Kathleen Willey also spoke about Linda Tripp, a Clinton-basher who seems to be at every ugly turn in this controversy. Tripp was outside the Oval Office when Willey emerged from her encounter with the President... Just how is it that Linda Tripp is so often conveniently involved in the President’s troubles? For some clues let’s bring in The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, who has profiled the controversial Miss Tripp in this week’s issue...You write that co-workers often viewed her as an inveterate busybody. Has she always been a snoop and a gossip with a particular interest in other people’s romantic lives?" – On Public Eye, March 17.

"Over five months have passed now since those first over-hyped reports alleged a sexual relationship between President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. Although Mr. Clinton has denied it and nothing has been proven, the mere suspicion seems to have obsessed a good number of media people and other Americans. What some view as high scandal in our country, is barely cause for concern elsewhere. Richard Schlesinger takes a look at the French connections." – On Public Eye, July 1.



Arbiter of Outrage
Deciding Who Has "No Right to Suddenly Claim Outrage"

"Finally tonight, a word about Holyfield and Lewis. Not about the decision, but instead about the ridiculous over-reaction of those who have no right to suddenly claim outrage or expertise. Since the fight, assorted gadflies who wouldn’t know Sugar Ray from Doris Day are now claiming the bout signals boxing’s demise. Legislators who can’t or won’t address problems in the real world, are staging hearings to assuage their own egos. And right-wing newspapers that care little for social injustices suffered by millions, are suddenly claiming outrage over the sporting injustice suffered by poor Lennox Lewis." – On HBO’s Real Sports, March 22.


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