The Worst ‘Notable Quotables’ of the Past 20 Years: Conservatives

October 23rd, 2007 10:26 AM
To commemorate the Media Research Center’s 20th anniversary this month, we’ve just published a special expanded edition of our ‘Notable Quotables’ newsletter with more than 100 of the most outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes we’ve uncovered over the past 20 years.

Yesterday, I wrote about the liberal media’s softness when it came to totalitarian communism. Today’s installment: The liberal media vs. Ronald Reagan and the GOP. TV reporters regularly condemned Reagan for his supposedly ruinous conservative policies, but it’s still astonishing to hear then-ABC reporter Richard Threlkeld castigate the Gipper on his last day as President, January 20, 1989.

Video (0:52): Windows (1.47 MB), plus MP3 audio (232 kB).

The background: On January 16, 1989, an Hispanic Miami police officer shot and killed a young black man as he fled from police on a motorcycle. The incident touched off three nights of rioting that left one person dead and perhaps $1 million in property damage, according to a Washington Post report from the time.

Despite this being a localized incident, Threlkeld decided to make the riots a symptom of what he claimed was Reagan’s “neglect” of inner cities for the Inauguration Day edition of ABC’s World News Tonight:

“After eight years of what many saw as the Reagan Administration’s benign neglect of the poor and studied indifference to civil rights, a lot of those who lived through this week in Overtown [rioting in a section of Miami] seemed to think the best thing about George Bush is that he is not Ronald Reagan,” Thelkeld intoned. “There is an Overtown in every big city in America. Pockets of misery made even meaner and more desperate the past eight years.”

Five and a half years later, when voters finally ended 40 years of Democratic control of Congress, then-ABC anchor Peter Jennings reflected the same attitude in a November 14, 1994 radio commentary smugly chastising “angry” voters:
“Some thoughts on those angry voters. Ask parents of any two- year-old and they can tell you about those temper tantrums: the stomping feet, the rolling eyes, the screaming. It’s clear that the anger controls the child and not the other way around. It’s the job of the parent to teach the child to control the anger and channel it in a positive way. Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week...Parenting and governing don’t have to be dirty words: the nation can’t be run by an angry two-year-old.”
Some of the other quotes that show the media’s disdain for Reagan and conservatism:
“The amazing thing is most people seem content to believe that almost everybody had a good time in the ‘80s , a real shot at the dream. But the fact is, they didn’t. Did we wear blinders? Did we think the ‘80s left behind just the homeless? The fact is that almost nine in ten Americans actually saw their lifestyle decline.”
— NBC reporter Keith Morrison, February 7, 1992 Nightly News. Census Bureau data shows median family income increased in all income classes from 1981 to 1989.

“In the plague years of the 1980s — that low decade of denial, indifference, hostility, opportunism and idiocy — government fiddled and medicine diddled, and the media were silent or hysterical. A gerontocratic Ronald Reagan took this [AIDS] plague less seriously than Gerald Ford had taken swine flu. After all, he didn’t need the ghettos and he didn’t want the gays.”
— CBS’s John Leonard on Sunday Morning, September 5, 1993. [Video (0:31): Windows (978 kB), plus MP3 audio (114 kB).]

“The new Republican majority in Congress took a big step today on its legislative agenda to demolish or damage government aid programs, many of them designed to help children and the poor.”
— Dan Rather, March 16, 1995 CBS Evening News.

“When NBC Nightly News continues: In Washington, if they cut food stamps, who doesn’t eat?
— Tom Brokaw, March 22, 1995.

“Next week on ABC’s World News Tonight, a series of reports about our environment which will tell you precisely what the new Congress has in mind: the most frontal assault on the environment in 25 years. Is this what the country wants?”
— Peter Jennings in an ABC promo during the July 9, 1995 This Week with David Brinkley.

“In light of the new welfare reform bill, do you think the children need more prayers than ever before?”
— Bryant Gumbel to Children’s Defense Fund leader Marian Wright Edelman, September 23, 1996 Today.

CBS’s Morley Safer: “You talk about a vision, and it’s some kind of abstract, vague idea. Did his [Ronald Reagan’s] vision include extraordinary deficits? Did his vision include cutting of the budgets for education and a back of the hand in terms of public education?”
Larry King: “History will not be kind to him?”
Safer: “No, I don’t think history particularly will be kind....I don’t think history has any reason to be kind to him.”
— CNN’s Larry King Live, June 14, 2004.
Tomorrow’s edition: The media’s love affair with Bill and Hillary Clinton. To read the full issue, and watch any of the 50 video clips that accompany the issue, please visit