The legendary broadcaster who earned lasting fame by getting kids to say "the darndest things" could have a heyday interviewing members of today's news media.
It turns out that they, too, say the darndest things.
The Media Research Center has again highlighted the year's "Best Notable Quotables," a collection of over-the-top condemnations of Republicans, religious people and conservatives, and exultations of everything liberal, from the so-called "mainstream" media.
This was a particularly outrageous year for liberal bias, with members of the media openly drooling with excitement over Barack Obama.
Even so, the winner of the Media Research Center's 21st Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting could never have been in doubt. It's this timeless on-air gem from former Democratic operative and current MSNBC show host Chris Matthews after an Obama speech:
"I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often. ... And that is an objective assessment."
That bit of video ought to be required viewing in every journalism school in America -- as an example of what not to do.
But there are plenty of other examples from 2008. Some examples:
- "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.
- "We'll be 8 degrees hotter in ... 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." -- CNN founder Ted Turner.
- "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.'" -- Bill Maher on HBO's Real Time .
- "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." --- Time magazine's Nancy Gibbs, in a cover story on "Prince" Barack Obama.
- "Today, the audacity of hope had its rendezvous with destiny. ... 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 .
- "To see (Jeremiah Wright's) career completely destroyed by three 20-second sound bites, 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." -- Washington Post writer Sally Quinn on PBS's Charlie Rose
- "The fact of the matter is, the comparison between (Sarah Palin) and Hillary Clinton is the comparison between an igloo and the Empire State Building!" -- Chris Matthews.
The line between news and commentary, between journalism and advocacy, blurred to indecipherable this year. How sad.
"Reporters didn't so much produce 'news' during this election year as they tried to make a sale," writes the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell. "Every story seemed to say, 'You know you want Obama.'"
That's not Obama's fault. That's the media's.
And, ultimately, ours, if we ever allow it again.