Anchors Rejoice: Obama Making History, 'Son of Gun, I've Done This?'

The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts all led Wednesday night with celebratory interviews with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama -- with ABC and NBC plastering “MAKING HISTORY” on screen -- as the three anchors luxuriated in Obama's success. ABC's Charles Gibson wondered: “I'm curious about your feelings last night. It was an historic moment. Has it sunk in yet?” Gibson followed up by prompting Obama to share his excitement: “When everybody clears out, the staff is gone, you're in the hotel room at night, and you're alone, do you say to yourself, 'Son of a gun, I've done this?'” On CBS, Katie Couric was so giddy she couldn't complete her question: “Did you ever think you'd see this day? I mean, are you still just completely-”

Echoing Gibson, NBC's Brian Williams began: “What was it like for you last night, the part we couldn't see, the flight to St. Paul with your wife, knowing what was awaiting?” Williams next cued him up: “And you had to be thinking of your mother and your father.” Then Williams excitedly informed Obama of the popularity on the Internet of the “fist pound” with his wife on stage the night before:
And your wife came up on stage with you last night, and in an otherwise private moment, attempted to give her husband a fist pound the way a lot of Americans do, the way a lot of couples do. Only problem was, it was an inside move shared in front of seventeen and a half thousand people in the arena and millions watching at home. It's the most talked about fist pound on the Internet today, you'll be happy to know.
All three pressed Obama about picking Hillary Clinton as his running mate, with Couric the most aggressive. The topic consumed five of her seven questions aired in the Evening News excerpt, starting with her stroll through history:
In our latest poll, 59 percent of Democratic primary voters, including 46 percent of your voters, think you should select Senator. Clinton to be your running mate. So, in the spirit of Kennedy *picking Johnson, and Reagan choosing Bush, why not pick Sen. Clinton? And please don't tell me it's premature to ask that question.
Only Williams posed a question that challenged Obama, an inquiry about McCain's much-greater experience, though from the angle of what he plan to overcome that reality:
In an election that, who knows, could turn on national security, how do you go up into a debate on national security with a man with the service record John McCain has from the Academy, to naval aviator, to five plus years as a POW, some in solitary confinement?
None mentioned to Obama the name Tony Rezko. News of his conviction was just breaking about the time of the late afternoon sessions with Obama. A later AP dispatch began:
A prominent fundraiser for Sen. Barack Obama and Gov. Rod Blagojevich was convicted Wednesday of fraud and money laundering after a high-profile federal trial provided an unusually detailed glimpse of the pay-to-play politics that has made Illinois infamous.

Antoin "Tony" Rezko showed no emotion as the jury found him guilty of 16 of 24 counts, including scheming to get kickbacks from money management firms seeking state business and a contractor who wanted to build a hospital in northern Illinois. He was acquitted of charges that included attempted extortion...
Separately, all three newscasts ran short items on the conviction of Obama's former fundraiser.

Only ABC's Gibson promised an interview Thursday night with Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Gathered with the help of the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, the questions posed by the three broadcast network anchors in the excerpts, of the interviews taped in New York City, aired on the Wednesday, June 4 ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts:

ABC's World News, questions posed to Obama by Charles Gibson:
Senator, I'm curious about your feelings last night. It was an historic moment. Has it sunk in yet?

What did she [Obama's grandmother] say?

The public moments are not your own, but when everybody clears out, the staff is gone, you're in the hotel room at night, and you're alone, do you say to yourself, "Son of a gun, I've done this"?

You don't get much time to enjoy this before people immediately start talking about the vice presidency. There obviously is one name that looms over all this. Hillary Clinton has already, to some extent, expressed her willingness. Is she a special case that you have to deal with before the others?

But does there have to be a yes or no on the issue of Hillary Clinton before you get to the others? In other words, can this issue linger on because it pervades everything?

[After a story on Hillary Clinton and a discussion with George Stephanopoulos, World News returned with a second Obama interview excerpt:]

And we turn back now to our conversation today with Barack Obama because we talked about what he will do between now and the convention, we talked about what he thought of Hillary Clinton's speech last night, how his daughters feel about his nomination, but first, what three issues he feels will decide this election?

John McCain has issued an invitation to do a series of town meetings through the summer, one a week. Going to do it?

Will you go to Iraq?

There's a picture of you in the paper this morning with your wife watching the Clinton speech. What did you think of the Clinton speech? She didn't exactly acknowledge your victory.

And finally, your daughters, what do they say to you? Do they take it as a matter of course that Daddy could be nominated to be President?
ABCNews.com has posted a transcript of the entire interview, with a two-minute video clip.


CBS Evening News, questions from Katie Couric:
Senator Obama, first of all, congratulations. In our latest poll, 59 percent of Democratic primary voters, including 46 percent of your voters, think you should select Senator. Clinton to be your running mate. So, in the spirit of Kennedy picking Johnson, and Reagan choosing Bush, why not pick Sen. Clinton? And please don't tell me it's premature to ask that question.

So you're not ruling her out?

As you know, a lot of it is about chemistry. So, just now, sitting here, talking about it, do you think you're chemically compatible? [Obama laughs] I'm serious. I mean, can you see working with her or does it just make you think ehhh, no?

What about chemistry, Senator?

It's also about liking someone, right?

You watched Hillary Clinton's speech last night. Did it disappoint you, Senator, that she didn't recognize fully this milestone that you had hit?

Did you ever think you'd see this day? I mean, are you still just completely-
CBSNews.com online version, with video of what aired on the Evening News, but text that does not include all the questions aired.

Couric promised more will air on Thursday's Early Show.


NBC Nightly News, questions from Brian Williams:
First of all, Senator, what was it like for you last night, the part we couldn't see, the flight to St. Paul with your wife, knowing what was awaiting?

And you had to be thinking of your mother and your father.

And your wife came up on stage with you last night, and in an otherwise private moment, attempted to give her husband a fist pound the way a lot of Americans do, the way a lot of couples do. Only problem was, it was an inside move shared in front of seventeen and a half thousand people in the arena and millions watching at home. It's the most talked about fist pound on the Internet today, you'll be happy to know.

As Senator Clinton points out regularly, there are a whole lot of Democrats who didn't vote for Barack Obama, some threatening they'd rather vote for John McCain. How do you now, going forward, run your own campaign, and if you're successful running your own presidency while paying homage, while paying tribute to the people who voted the other way, to those people who believe passionately in Senator Clinton's candidacy and what she stands for?

Specifically on this vice presidential issue, Maureen Dowd writes in the New York Times this morning, she has tried to emasculate you. In basketball terms, has she, at minimum, tried to jam you?

What's your biggest hurdle, as you view it, from the perch of less than 24 hours as the presumed nominee of your party?

In an election that, who knows, could turn on national security, how do you go up into a debate on national security with a man with the service record John McCain has from the Academy, to naval aviator, to five plus years as a POW, some in solitary confinement?
MSNBC.com has Flash video of the entire 18 minute interview session.

Video of what aired on the NBC Nightly News.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center