The three network morning shows on Friday almost totally skipped any coverage of President Bush's farewell address to the country on Thursday. Despite having a combined eight hours of air time, NBC's "Today," CBS's "Early Show" and ABC's "Good Morning America" devoted only 55 seconds total to reporting on Bush's speech. Instead, important topics such as "Obama thongs" and cheddar biscuits were highlighted.
Over a period of two hours, "The Early Show" ignored the speech entirely. "Good Morning America," which has a similar running time, allowed a mere 17 seconds. The "Today" show, which now encompasses four hours of broadcast time, provided the most, with 38 seconds of information about the address. None of the three programs featured any clips of Bush's farewell. (In contrast, on March 19, 2008, the day after then-presidential candidate Barack Obama's speech on race, these same shows allowed nine and a half minutes of sound bites of the Democrat.)
Of course, much of Friday's programming recounted the incredible tale of passengers and pilots who survived a water landing on the Hudson River in New York. However, the three shows certainly had time to revel in the frivolous, including silly stories related to President-elect Barack Obama. On "Today," host Hoda Kotb held up the latest in Obama thongs. (Kotb and co-host Kathie Lee Gifford giggled at the "Momma Got Hope" logo on the front of one thong.)
Over on GMA, co-host Robin Roberts and others spent over four minutes cooking bacon and cheddar biscuits with Emeril Lagasse. Additionally, co-host Diane Sawyer discussed whether Obama had the right dancing moves for the inaugural dance.
Finally, the "Early Show," which had zero coverage of Bush's speech, featured two Obama related segments, one on patriotic arts and crafts and a second on a Harlem school that will be having a group of children perform at Barack Obama's inauguration.
What little coverage there was of Bush's speech often featured Obama. On GMA, guest news anchor Deborah Roberts announced, "President Bush's next public event will be attending Barack Obama's inauguration." Natalie Morales on NBC said of Bush: "And he praised President-elect Obama, calling him a man whose history reflects the enduring promise of our land."
Transcripts of the three January 16 news briefs follow:
NATALIE MORALES: And it was President Bush's farewell address last night. He said, while some don't agree with his decisions, he said [sic] he always acted in the best interests of the country and is leaving office filled with gratitude.
MORALES: President Bush is defending his two terms in office as he prepares to leave office on Tuesday. During his farewell speech last night, the President claimed foreign policy successes in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also said his administration took decisive action to save the nation's economy when it slipped into recession. And he praised President-elect Obama, calling him a man whose history reflects the enduring promise of our land.
DEBORAH ROBERTS: President Bush's next public event will be attending Barack Obama's inauguration. In his farewell address to the nation last night, Mr. Bush recognized that he's had good days and bad days. And he said while some in the nation didn't agree with his tough decisions, they must agree that he was willing to make them.