NBC News Panel 'Emotional' Over Obama's Inauguration

The truly historic moment of the first African-American to be sworn-in as President cannot, nor should not, go without some comment but to the degree NBC News' anchors and reporters were willing to share their personal feelings, on air, about the moment was a bit remarkable for purported objective journalists.

During NBC News' live coverage on Tuesday of Barack Obama's Inauguration, Meredith Vieira observed: "I think the hardest thing is, is not getting emotional because it is such an emotional morning, you just want to, you want to laugh, you want to cry," and later claimed she was "blissful."

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams admitted, repeatedly, that their panel, which included Tom Brokaw and Lester Holt broke down: "Lester and I were remarking that 'No Drama Obama,' kept it together, none of the rest of us did."

The following exchanges occurred during NBC News' January 20, live coverage of the Obama Inauguration: 

MATT LAUER: I was gonna say it's at a moment like this, as we get set to hand it off to you folks, what great jobs we have. You have to stop and think about the privilege that we all have this morning and you'll have for the next several hours to bring this story, in some way, to the American people because this is a rare opportunity and to, and to have a seat, even though we're in the studio. There's Magic Johnson right there.

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Magic Johnson, yep.

LAUER: We have a seat far from the Capitol, where we are, but to be able to bring these images to you is just extraordinary.

TOM BROKAW: The job is so great you can't get rid of me.

VIEIRA: I think the hardest thing is, is not getting emotional because it is such an emotional morning, you just want to, you want to laugh, you want to cry. It's, it's so moving. And it hits you that you will probably never see anything like this again. It's quite something.

PEGGY NOONAN: I keep thinking of the, the old poem. The end of the old poem about the French Revolution that says, "Bliss was it then to be alive, but to be young was very heaven." You're seeing so many young people here.

VIEIRA: Yeah.

NOONAN: It's very moving for them, very beautiful.

VIEIRA: Well I'm not young but I'm blissful, that's for sure.

...

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Well make no mistake this a huge and sweeping political change today. And Lester, then there's everything else. And-

LESTER HOLT: Ah so much.

WILLIAMS: You know the nickname "No Drama Obama," comes to mind. He was able to easily hold his emotions in check, how come nobody else was?

...

WILLIAMS: And we want to bring in several more friends of ours beginning with Mark Whitaker, who is our NBC News Washington bureau chief, who is a lot of things actually. Former editor of Newsweek magazine. And I've been sitting here today thinking, Mark you went to Harvard with about half of the incoming administration. I haven't spoken with you today, yet. Certainly since the Oath of Office. Lester and I were remarking that "No Drama Obama," kept it together, none of the rest of us did.

...

AL ROKER DESCRIBING BUS TRIP WITH HIGH SCHOOL BAND: You know Brian I gotta tell ya it was a very emotional trip. We were on one of the, the Presidential Inaugural Committee busses with the Brattleboro High School. And we were listening when, when President Obama took the Oath of Office and a cheer went up on that bus and there were people crying on the bus. And these were all very young people, high school students, all very moved.

And as we came across the Memorial Bridge and, and the Washington Monument, you could see in the distance and the Lincoln Memorial came up in the fore and as we crossed over we saw this sea of people. And as we continued along the, in between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Memorial the crowd grew and we could see everybody on the bus, a hush fell over the bus. We were in awe of the number of people that had come to hear this president. To be a part of this Inaugural.

And, and I gotta tell ya it, it, really moved. I had tears in my eyes. A producer, the band director. It, even the bus driver was crying. It was, it was one, a moment that I think this entire country is sharing. Republican, independent, Democrat. Everybody has these hopes with this President. And, and I gotta tell ya it was one of the most moving moments in, in my life.

To come across that bridge with this group of kids I've never met before, but we were all together. And that's the sense you get here, we're at the paraded route where, where the President is going to review the parade. This sense of family, of the country coming together. That's what people are looking for, I think.

WILLIAMS: Al I'd love to tell you that I have no idea what you're talking about, that everybody here kept their emotions thoroughly in check during the ceremony, but I'd be lying to you my friend.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.