NBC's Lee Cowan: Obama Inaugural Like Being in a 'Political Cathedral'

On Monday's inaugural edition of the "NBC Nightly News," well known Obama fan Lee Cowan made no effort to restrain his fawning over the new president, likening the experience of watching the Democrat's speech to being in a "political cathedral." After featuring clips of people viewing the address all over the country, Cowan cooed, "In the end, though, it really didn't matter where you were as long as you weren't alone." (audio excerpt available here)

He added, "Just ordinary street corners like this one here in Chicago fell silent, almost becoming a political cathedral of sorts." Cowan, the man who once announced that covering Barack Obama made his "knees quake," closed the segment by rhapsodizing, "And almost everyone was making that mental scrapbook, noting the time and place where they were on this day and, perhaps, shared a collective tear." It was, he said, "An event meant to be remembered and one meant to be shared."

Cowan's effusiveness was, perhaps, only surpassed by the individuals he chose to quote for the segment. One woman lauded, "The election was the wedding, but this is like the marriage!" Another asserted, "I will remember this forever and ever, ever until the day I die."

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:23pm on January 20, follows:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: While it was unfolding today here in Washington, you could feel the millions around the country who were watching it all. Tonight, our own Lee Cowan was watching them.

LEE COWAN: The lucky ones, of course, were there in person, packed shoulder to shoulder. But for the rest of us-

CHIEF JUSTICE JOSEPH ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.

COWAN: -today's inauguration was a long distance date with history.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: The words can't even describe. I was like, 'Oh my God. This is not happening.'

COWAN: Noon in the East was celebrated at 9 in the West.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: The election was the wedding, but this is like the marriage!

COWAN: Everywhere people gathered around high tech hearths, big screens in New York and small ones in Texas as it all streamed live on the Internet.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: I never thought I'd ever see anything like this in my life.

COWAN: It was living history in classrooms in Atlanta and a more boisterous history at Michelle Obama's old high school in Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: It's like hope for all of us, you know?

COWAN: And here-

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: Good morning, Barack Obama Elementary School.

COWAN: -students in their freshly-minted sweatshirts watched their namesake with pride. It was appointment television in a barber shop in south L.A. where racial tensions once simmered to a boil.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: For all of the right thinking people, black and white, it's a victory today.

COWAN: A victory that brought the nation to a standstill. There were cab drivers who stopped driving, shoppers who stopped shopping, diners who stopped dining.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #4: I have never felt so much a part of the world as I felt today.

COWAN: We even found doctors with a TV in the operating room who paused before surgery on a young Marine. In the end, though, it really didn't matter where you were as long as you weren't alone. Just ordinary street corners like this one here in Chicago fell silent, almost becoming a political cathedral of sorts. And almost everyone was making that mental scrapbook, noting the time and place where they were on this day and, perhaps, shared a collective tear.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #5: I will remember this forever and ever, ever until the day I die.

COWAN: An event meant to be remembered and one meant to be shared. Lee Cowan, NBC News, Chicago.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org