Here are the highlights of the Media Research Center’s annual awards for the worst reporting of the year. For the complete list, go to: www.MRC.org. On March 19, MRC will hold its annual gala in Washington to announce the winners of the DisHonors Awards of 2009: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters.
The Obamagasm Award
“Some princes are born in palaces. Some are born in mangers. But a few are born in the imagination, out of scraps of history and hope….Barack Hussein Obama did not win because of the color of his skin. Nor did he win in spite of it. He won because at a very dangerous moment in the life of a still young country, more people than have ever spoken before came together to try to save it. And that was a victory all its own.”
— Time’s Nancy Gibbs, November 17
The Half-Baked Alaska Award for Pummeling Palin
“The fact of the matter is, the comparison between her [Sarah Palin] and Hillary Clinton is the comparison between an igloo and the Empire State Building!”
— Host Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, October 14.
Let Us Fluff Your Pillow Award for Soft & Cuddly Interviews
“What of the attacks has busted through to you? What makes you angriest at John McCain, the Republicans? What’s being said about your husband that you want to shout from the mountain tops is not true?”
— NBC’s Brian Williams to Michelle Obama in an interview shown on the August 27 Nightly News.
Damn Those Conservatives Award
Reporter Deborah Solomon: “You helped re-elect Bush in ’04 when you gave $3 million to the Swift Boat campaign to discredit John Kerry’s Vietnam service. Do you regret your involvement?”
Businessman T. Boone Pickens: “Why would I?”
Solomon: “Because it’s such an ugly chapter in American political history.”
Pickens: “Oh, I see. Well, it was true. Everything that went into those ads was the truth.”
Solomon: “Really? I thought it was all invented.”
— From a “Q&A” exchange published in the New York Times Magazine on Sunday, August 3.
The Irrelevant Reverend Wright Award
“To see his [Jeremiah Wright’s] career completely destroyed by three 20-second soundbites, all of the work he has done, his entire legacy gone down the drain, has been absolutely devastating to me — to him, sorry….We are still a racist country….I think that so many white people who had never been inside a black church were absolutely shocked by the tone and language that they heard [from Wright]….I think it brought out a lot of latent racism.”
— Washington Post writer Sally Quinn on PBS’s Charlie Rose, April 30.
Madness of King George Award
“As a final crash of self-indulgent nonsense, when the incontrovertible truth of your panoramic and murderous deceit has even begun to cost your political party seemingly perpetual congressional seats….When somebody asks you, sir, about the cooked books and faked threats you foisted on a sincere and frightened nation; when somebody asks you, sir, about your gallant, noble, self-abnegating sacrifice of your golf game so as to soothe the families of the war dead; this advice, Mr. Bush: Shut the hell up! Good night and good luck.”
— MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann in a “Special Comment” on Countdown, May 14.
From Camelot to Obamalot Award
“Today, the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny. No mere endorsement this, more like a political anointment from the Kennedys, merging ideals from two different eras….Obama is now an adopted son of Camelot. His candidacy blessed not just by the Lion of the Senate, patriarch of the clan, but by JFK’s daughter.”
— ABC’s David Wright on Nightline, Jan. 28.
“Pay Up You Patriots” Award
“It’s early April, which means these are the few days of the year when Americans of almost every political stripe unite in a perennial ritual: complaining about taxes. Count me out. I’m happy to pay my fair share to the government. It’s part of my patriotic duty — and it’s a heckuva bargain…. There seems to be an inconsistency about people who insist on wearing flag pins in their lapels, but who grumble about paying taxes….Genuine patriots don’t complain about their patriotic obligations….Pay up and be grateful!”
— Former ABC and CNN reporter Walter Rodgers writing in the Christian Science Monitor, April 2.
Politics of Meaninglessness Award for the Silliest Analysis
“Not doing it [fighting global warming] will be catastrophic. We’ll be eight degrees hotter in ten, not ten but 30 or 40 years, and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals. Civilization will have broken down.”
— CNN founder Ted Turner on PBS’s Charlie Rose, April 1.
Media Hero Award
“As we know this morning, there is another ground-breaking, crossroads moment. That is for Senator Hillary Clinton, who ran her campaign on her own terms. This woman, as we said, forged into determination and purpose her whole life. As someone said, ‘No thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.’”
— ABC’s Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America, June 4, quoting a 17th century discourse about Jesus Christ.
Good Morning Morons Award
Co-host Harry Smith: “In which ocean are the South Sandwich Islands located? A sixth grader from Nebraska answered that question. It’s in the — is it in the Atlantic? I thought the Sandwich Islands were actually named after the Earl of — it’s Hawaii. That’s not right. I’m so sorry. Other — you know what, let’s-“
Co-host Julie Chen: “No, it’s in which ocean, so that is right. So it’s the Atlantic Ocean.”
Smith: “Hawaii is not in the Atlantic Ocean.”
Chen: “Oh, it’s in the Pacific.”
— Discussing National Geographic’s geography bee on CBS’s The Early Show, May 22. [51 points]
The John Murtha Award for Painting America as Racist
“What do you think the bigger obstacle is for you in becoming president, the Clinton campaign machine or America’s inherent racism?”
— ABC’s Chris Cuomo to Barack Obama in a December 20, 2007 interview on Good Morning America. [89 points]
The Great Goracle Award
“Since he lost the election, Al Gore has become a certified celebrity, a popular prophet of global warming….When Al Gore ran for President in 2000, he was often ridiculed as inauthentic and wooden. Today, he is passionate and animated, a man transformed….What about the idea of the honest broker who goes to the two candidates [Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton] and helps push one or the other of them off to the side?…He’s not ruling it out, but he says he already has a job — as he puts it, ‘PR agent for the planet.’”
— CBS’s Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes, March 30. [48 points]
MSNBC = Maudlin Sycophantic Nutty Blathering Chris Award
Keith Olbermann: “For 42 minutes, not a sour note and spellbinding throughout in a way usually reserved for the creations of fiction. An extraordinary political statement. Almost a fully realized, tough, crisp, insistent speech in tone and in the sense of cutting through the clutter….I’d love to find something to criticize about it. You got anything?”
Chris Matthews: “No. You know, I’ve been criticized for saying he inspires me, and to hell with my critics!…You know, in the Bible they talk about Jesus serving the good wine last, I think the Democrats did the same.”
— MSNBC live coverage of Obama’s Democratic convention speech, August 28. 
The Crush Rush Award for Loathing Limbaugh
Author/humorist P.J. O’Rourke: “It’s the twilight of the radio loud-mouth, you know? I knew it from the moment the fat guy-“
Host Bill Maher: “You mean Rush Limbaugh and Sean-”
O’Rourke: “-from the moment the fat guy refused to share his drugs….”
Maher: “You mean the OxyContin that he was on?…Why couldn’t he have croaked from it instead of Heath Ledger?”
— HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, Feb. 8. [80 points]
Barbra Streisand Political IQ Award for Celebrity Vapidity
“I’d like to tip off law enforcement to an even larger child-abusing religious cult. Its leader also has a compound, and this guy not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats. That’s right, the Pope is coming to America….If you have a few hundred followers, and you let some of them molest children, they call you a cult leader. If you have a billion, they call you ‘Pope.’ It’s like, if you can’t pay your mortgage, you’re a deadbeat. But if you can’t pay a million mortgages, you’re Bear Stearns and we bail you out. And that is who the Catholic Church is: the Bear Stearns of organized pedophilia….The Church’s attitude: ‘We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,’ which is fine. Far be it for me to criticize religion.”
— Bill Maher on HBO’s Real Time, April 11. 
Admitting the Obvious Award
“When NBC News first assigned me to the Barack Obama campaign, I must confess my knees quaked a bit….I wondered if I was up to the job. I wondered if I could do the campaign justice.”
— NBC reporter Lee Cowan in an article for “The Peacock,” an NBC advertising supplement included in the March 23-29 edition of the American Profile magazine newspaper insert.
Quote of the Year
Co-anchor Chris Matthews: “I have to tell you, you know, it’s part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama’s speech. My — I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often.”
Co-anchor Keith Olbermann: “Steady.”
Matthews: “No, seriously. It’s a dramatic event. He speaks about America in a way that has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the feeling we have about our country. And that is an objective assessment.”
— Exchange during MSNBC’s coverage of the Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. primaries, February 12.