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Winning Quotes in MRC's Annual Awards
for the Worst Reporting

The winning quotes in the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 2004: The Seventeenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting."

The annual awards issue provides a compilation of the most outrageous and/or humorous news media quotes from 2004 (December 2003 through November 2004). To determine this year's winners, a panel of 43 radio talk show hosts, magazine editors, columnists, editorial writers and media observers each selected their choices for the first, second and third best quote from a slate of six to nine quotes in each category. (See item #2 for a list of the judges.) First place selections were awarded three points, second place choices two points, with one point for the third place selections. Point totals are listed in the brackets at the end of the attribution for each quote. Each judge was also asked to choose a "

Quote of the Year" denoting the most outrageous quote of 2004.

The MRC's Kristina Sewell and Michelle Humphrey distributed and counted the ballots. Brent Baker and Rich Noyes assembled this issue and Mez Djouadi posted the complete issue, along with RealPlayer video clips, on the MRC's Web site:

For an Adobe Acrobat PDF that matches the eight-page hard copy version:

Now, the winning quotes in 18 award categories:

Blue State Brigade Award (for Campaign Coverage)

"He [John Kerry] also could make a virtue, it seems to me, of the so-called flip-flopping. The greatest flip-flop in American history is Lincoln, [who] in his first Inaugural was not for emancipation and then two years later he was. Is that statesmanship or is that a flip-flop?" -- Newsweek Managing Editor Jon Meacham during live pre-debate coverage on MSNBC, September 30. [66 points]

GI John Award (for Saluting John Kerry's Vietnam Record)

"Okay, time to do morning papers....Stars and Stripes starts it off: ?U.S. Troops Control Most of Fallujah,' the headline. 'U.S. Officials Believe Most Insurgents Have Fled the City.' Look at this picture here, if you can. 'Troops' Bravery Honored in Iraq.' These are all Purple Heart winners. Someday, one of them will run for President and someone will say they didn't earn the Purple Heart. Welcome to America." -- CNN's Aaron Brown on the November 10 NewsNight displaying a front-page photo of a line of U.S. troops in Iraq receiving their medals. [63 points]

Darth Vader vs. "The Sunshine Boy" Award

"One of the obstacles for Dick Cheney tonight is the fact that he has become a dark figure....There are those who believe that Dick Cheney has led this administration and this President down a path of recklessness, that maybe his approach, his dark approach to this constant battle against another civilization, is actually the wrong approach for ultimately keeping America safe." -- NBC White House reporter David Gregory during live convention coverage on MSNBC about 8:30pm EDT on September 1, about two hours before Cheney spoke at the Republican convention. [53 points]

The Madness of King George Award (for Bush Bashing)

"Even if Mr. Bush wins re-election this November, he, too, will eventually be dragged down by the powerful undertow that inevitably accompanies public deception. The public will grow intolerant of partisan predators and crony capitalists indulging in a frenzy of feeding at the troughs in Baghdad and Washington. And there will come a time when the President will have no one to rely on except his most rabid allies in the right-wing media. He will discover too late that you cannot win the hearts and minds of the public at large in a nation polarized and pulverized by endless propaganda in defiance of reality.... "Even now the privates patrolling the mean streets of Baghdad and the wilds of Afghanistan make less than $16,000 a year in base pay, their lives and limbs are constantly at risk, while here at home the rich get their tax cuts -- what Vice President Cheney calls 'their due.' Favored corporations get their contracts, subsidies and offshore loopholes. And even as he praises sacrifice, the President happily passes the huge bills that are piling up onto children not yet born...." -- PBS's Bill Moyers on his weekly newsmagazine Now, March 26. [73 points]

Bedazzled in Beantown Award (for Democratic Convention Coverage)

"John Kerry working himself literally into a sweat. Or as my high school English teacher would prefer, into a high state of perspiration. An almost literal thunder inside the hall, shaking the Fleet Center in a way that it seldom shakes, if ever, even during a Celtics basketball playoff game or a Bruins hockey playoff game. These Democrats, as the speech built, having what amounted to maybe a three-thousand-gallon attack about every three minutes, united in a way the Democratic Party has not been for about half a century." -- CBS's Dan Rather moments after John Kerry's speech to the Democratic convention, July 29. [72 points]

Bitter in the Big Apple Award (for Republican Convention Coverage)

"You and Olympia Snowe, the other Senator from Maine, are known as moderate Republican women. You have no place in this convention. The [Republican Party] platform does not seem to speak to a lot of women in this country. It's anti-abortion, it does not expand stem cell research, and other social issues in which women have some interest, for example, gay unions, is firmly opposed to that. Do you think that this platform and this party is doing enough to reach out to moderate women across the country?" -- Tom Brokaw to Senator Susan Collins on his 4pm EDT MSNBC show Brokaw in New York, August 31. [47 points]

Captain Dan the Forgery Man Award

"The story is true. The story is true....I appreciate the sources who took risks to authenticate our story. So, one, there is no internal investigation. Two, somebody may be shell-shocked, but it is not I, and it is not anybody at CBS News. Now, you can tell who is shell-shocked by the ferocity of the people who are spreading these rumors." -- Dan Rather in a September 10 sidewalk exchange with reporters, denying rumors that CBS would investigate whether or not the "memos" were forged. [62 points]

Damn Those Conservatives Award

"You have made so many offensive comments over the years. Do you regret any of them?" "You seem indifferent to suffering. Have you ever suffered yourself?" -- Two of the questions posed to National Review founder William F. Buckley by the New York Times Magazine's Deborah Solomon, July 11. [83 points]

Kooky Keith Award (for Keith Olbermann's Conspiratorial Rants)

"John Dean, who was at the center of the greatest political scandal in this nation's history, has produced a book with perspective, and that perspective is simply terrifying. The bottom line: George Bush has done more damage to this nation than his old boss, Richard Nixon, ever dreamt of....John Dean, joining us here in the studio...." "The feeling that I had been left after reading Worse Than Watergate was that this could have been the historical, essentially, prequel to George Orwell's novel 1984, that if you wanted to see what the very first step out of maybe 50 steps towards this totalitarian state that Orwell wrote about in his novel, this [President Bush's policies] would be the kind of thing that you would see...." -- MSNBC's Keith Olbermann to former Nixon aide John Dean on his Countdown program, April 5. [56 points]

Media Hero Award

"The best reaction shots were those of Ted Kennedy, whose stature seems to grow right along with his nose year after year after year. Kennedy has now reached a grand moment in the life of a Senator; he looks like Hollywood itself cast him in the role. Seriously....Kennedy looked great, like he was ready to take his place next to Jefferson on Mount Rushmore. He gives off the kind of venerable vibes that some of us got from an Everett Dirksen way back when." -- Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales in a January 21 Style section review of the State of the Union address. [69 points]

Bring Back Saddam Award

"The Sami sisters, ages 17, 15 and 11, listen to Madonna and Britney Spears. They read Agatha Christie novels and watch movies starring Russell Crowe. They also rarely venture outside their upscale home in central Baghdad out of fear of explosions and violence....Their teenage world was simpler when Saddam Hussein was in power. Back then, they said, they hung out with friends at the Pharmacists Club, a swanky place with a swimming pool to which their father, the vice president of Iraq's Pharmacists Union, belonged....Iraq's new freedom -- or chaos, depending on your point of view -- has imprisoned the girls." -- Chicago Tribune's Deborah Horan, May 24. [59 points]

Real Reagan Legacy Award

"Before Reagan, people sleeping in the street were so rare that, outside of skid rows, they were almost a curiosity. After eight years of Reaganomics -- and the slashes in low-income housing and social welfare programs that went along with it -- they were seemingly everywhere. And America had a new household term: 'The homeless.'" -- Reporter Kevin Fagan in the San Francisco Chronicle on June 10, five days after Reagan's death. [69 points]

Debbie Downer Award (for Economic Doom & Gloom)

NBC's Carl Quintanilla: "They're calling it the middleclass blues....the feeling that happy days aren't quite here yet..." Woman: "I've never been in a, like, depression, but I think this is pretty close to it." Quintanilla: "The numbers, of course, say different. A million new jobs added since February, gas prices back below $2, the cheapest in a month. Enough to give comfort to some....But overall, the price of life in America is up from last year, everything from hospital visits to tuition. Last month alone, milk prices made their single biggest jump since World War II." -- Report aired on NBC's Today, June 16. [35 points]

Barbra Streisand Political IQ Award (for Celebrity Vapidity)

"People don't realize that by voting Republican, they voted against themselves....I worry that some people are entertained by the idea of this war. They don't know anything about the Iraqis, but they're angry and frustrated in their own lives. It's like Germany, before Hitler took over. The economy was bad and people felt kicked around. They looked for a scapegoat. Now we've got a new bunch of Hitlers." -- Singer Linda Ronstadt, as quoted by USA Today reporter Elysa Gardner in a November 17 profile. [64 points]

Politics of Meaninglessness Award (for the Silliest Analysis)

"When you tell me, 'Let the states decide,' that scares me, okay? I've got a little map here of [the] pre-Civil War [United States], free versus slave states. I wish you could see it in color and large. But if you look at it, the red states are all down in the South, and you have the Nebraska Territories, the New Mexico Territories, and the Kansas Territories. But the Pacific Northwest and California were not slave states. The Northeast was not. It looks like the [Electoral College] map of 2004." -- Former World News Tonight/Sunday anchor Carole Simpson, who travels the country for ABC News to talk to high schoolers about how to consume news, at a November 8 National Press Club forum shown on C-SPAN. [62 points]

Good Morning Morons Award

Katie Couric: "Time magazine's Person of the Year issue hits news stands today and this year it honors the American soldier. Jim Kelly is Time's Managing Editor and veteran war photographer James Nachtwey was embedded with the Army's First Armored Division in Baghdad and took the remarkable images in this week's issue. He was also wounded while on assignment. Gentlemen, welcome, good morning, nice to have you both. I was so, I have to say, just personally, I was so pleased to see this....Tell me why you all decided to honor the American soldier? Wondering why there's no woman on the cover, too?" Time's Jim Kelly, pointing to cover: "This is a woman." Couric: "Oh, there you go, oh sorry....I couldn't tell because of her helmet." -- Discussing a Time cover showing three U.S. soldiers in combat gear, NBC's Today, December 22, 2003. [65 points]

Admitting the Obvious Award (for Acknowledging Liberal Bias)

"Let's talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win. And I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards -- I'm talking about the establishment media, not Fox -- but they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all. There's going to be this glow about them that some, is going to be worth, collectively, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points." -- Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas on the July 10 Inside Washington. [67 points]

Quote of the Year

"What drives American civilians to risk death in Iraq? In this economy it may be, for some, the only job they can find." -- Dan Rather teasing a report on the CBS Evening News on March 31, the day four American civilians were killed and mutilated in Fallujah, Iraq.

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Anyone notice that no one from FOX made this list? Hmmmmm!
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