'America Matured by Choosing Obama,' Makes 'A More Perfect Union'

The broadcast network evening newscasts on Wednesday night all marked Barack Obama's victory with stories on celebrations around the world, the joy expressed by African-Americans and how newspapers sold out as people cheered in the streets. NBC anchor Brian Williams hailed: “As one columnist put it, America  matured in 2008 by choosing Barack Obama.” CBS, however, aired the most triumphant story. Though Ronald Reagan earned nearly 59 percent of the vote in 1984 and George Bush captured more than 53 percent four years later, an awed Byron Pitts began by proposing about Obama's win with 52 percent: “When was the last time our nation cheered this much?”

Pitts proceeded to cite anecdotes about several people, black and white, who saw vindication in Obama's victory, including two women at “a suburban home in Iowa. Iowa, the state that first bought into Obama's audacious hopes and where a life-long Democrat like Deb Tekippe and a life long Republican like Brenda Myer made a toast with champagne.” He concluded:
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union.” That's what the Constitution says. Last night, all across America for so many people, that's how it felt. A more perfect union.
On the NBC Nightly News, Williams set up a story on general public reaction, as opposed to a separate piece on black reaction: “This nation  woke up this  morning changed. As one columnist put it, America matured in 2008 by choosing Barack Obama. Tonight, NBC's Kevin Tibbles takes stock of a new day.”

I searched for any such line from a columnist and came up empty, but I did locate that formulation attributed, in a Reuters dispatch, to Jesse Jackson:
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson said his satisfaction at Obama's success was conditioned by a sense of history. Jackson witnessed the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968 and twice ran for president in the 1980s. “His (Obama) winning means America's getting better. We are more mature. We are less anxious around each other,” he said in an interview.
Over on ABC's World News, anchor Charles Gibson introduced a story:
In many cities all across the country last night, it was as if the local team had won the World Series or the Super Bowl. Barack Obama supporters danced in the streets, wept, halted traffic, and lifted their voices in prayer.
The Pitts retrospective on the Wednesday, November 5 CBS Evening News, which Couric set up by employing the same World Series analogy as had Gibson:
KATIE COURIC: The celebrations we saw overnight were like none we had ever seen. In many towns in America it was as if they just won the World Series. But then the country has never seen an election like this one. Here's our national correspondent, Byron Pitts.

MAN SELLING NEWSPAPERS: Obama won!

BYRON PITTS: It's hard to capture it in the headline or in an overhead shot [of crowd at Grant Park], but when was the last time-

BARACK OBAMA: It's been a long time coming.

PITTS: -our nation cheered this much?

OBAMA: Change has come to America.

PITTS: Wept this long? From a park in Chicago, a church basement in Cleveland, a church where the pastor's own distant cousin was shot and killed for simply trying to vote in 1930.

PASTOR: It sends chills up my spine.

PITTS: To Ann Nixon-Cooper's living room. President-elect Obama called her by name.

ANN NIXON-COOPER: I stayed up to listen for it.

OBAMA: Ann Nixon-Cooper is 106 years old.

PITTS: To a suburban home in Iowa. Iowa, the state that first bought into Obama's audacious hopes-

OBAMA: Thank you, Iowa.

PITTS: -and where a life-long Democrat like Deb Tekippe and a life long Republican like Brenda Myer made a toast with champagne.

VOICE: 2008, Iowa!  

DEB TEKIPPE: I just think it just kind of shows what Brenda and I have gone through the same way the country has gone through. The fact that we can have our differences, we can discuss them and we can come together with a common goal.

PITTS: For Barack Obama, that goal started with a speech near the very same steps where Lincoln once spoke.

BARACK OBAMA: I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America!

PITTS: Just words that energized so many, made use of so much.

INTERNET VIDEOS: Yes, we can. Yes, we can.

PITTS: Yes, the road had its moments.

OBAMA DURING PRIMARY DEBATE: I was fighting these fights.

PITTS: Some heart felt.

HILLARY CLINTON: I have so many opportunities from this country.

PITTS: Some hurtful.

JEREMIAH WRIGHT: Not God bless America-

PITTS: Old demons and new ones. What Barack Obama started actually began long ago. Out of the huts of history's shame, the poet wrote, a history reflected upon inside Atlanta's historic Ebenezer Baptist church last night, the church where Dr. King once preached of dreams. Dreams his long-time friend, Reverend Joseph Lowery, finally saw come true.

REVEREND JOSEPH LOWERY: The minute t the card clicked out of the voting machine it dawned on me I had just voted for an African American for President, for the 44th President of the United States. And I froze and out of my mouth came "Hallelujah."

PITTS: That history was on the minds of millions of Americans last night. People like Sondra Hollinger Samuels of Minnesota. We first met her at the Democratic convention this summer, the night Obama's name was put into nomination. Then and now, she remembered what her father might say.

SONDRA HOLLINGER SAMUELS: He would say "God almighty, I can't believe it!" I mean, he would, he would be so, he would be so proud.

PITTS: Her father is actually still alive. At 72, Alzheimers is stealing away Richard Hollinger's mind and his memories. But not ours, not his daughter's.

SAMUELS: It's more than I ever thought that it could be, you know? I mean, the words in our Constitution are coming to life in a real tangible way.

PITTS: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union." That's what the constitution says. Last night, all across America for so many people, that's how it felt. A more perfect union. Byron Pitts. CBS News, New York.
My June 9 NewsBusters item, “CBS's Byron Pitts Concedes He's 'Excited' by Obama's Nomination,” recounted:
On Sunday's Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz played a clip of CBS reporter Byron Pitts on Wednesday's CBS Evening News hailing Barack Obama's Democratic nomination victory as proof "one of America's oldest and ugliest color lines has been broken, and there is a new bridge for a new generation," then proposed: "You obviously are paid to be an objective journalist, but some part of you must be excited that Barack Obama won this nomination." Pitts confirmed his excitement: "Well, certainly. I mean, as an African-American man, this is significant. I mean, look, for my entire life I've been able to, as a man, dream of doing great things. But a dream I could never have was being President of the United States. Now, for instance, my sons, my nephew, they can have that dream. And I think those kinds of images are important."...
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