Brian Williams Lauds Obama's 'Beautiful, Soaring Concession Speech'

On a Wednesday blog entry on The Daily Nightly, NBC anchor Brian Williams candidly admitted the media screwed up in expecting a massive Obama wave, but then said "virtually everyone got it wrong." He also said "Give us a few weeks – we will promptly forget the lessons of this debacle in polling, predictions and primary politics" and "live to screw up another day." But then, Williams went back to swooning over the historic moments of Obama touching voters in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and his "beautiful, soaring concession speech." He even defended Obama for thinking he was going to win big: "A colleague of mine contends Obama got caught up in the history he was making. I don't think that's quite fair. The candidate didn't change his message as much as Iowa changed the way we heard it. That day, I saw people embrace Obama the way people embrace loved ones returning from foreign battlefields."Doesn’t Williams see that once again, he’s only underlining his utter lack of objectivity and identifying himself as Swooner-in-Chief? (Another sign he doesn’t care about the appearance of objectivity: he allows this swoon to be cross-posted for the trendy Left at The Huffington Post). It seems more plausible that he wants fellow liberals to know that he is one of them and yes, he, too, is caught up in the magic.Williams began the liberal editorializing by suggesting the need for a "thorough airing" of the idea that New Hampshire liberals are racists who lied to pollsters about their intention to vote for a black man. He referred to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder, North Carolina Senate candidate Harvey Gantt (who lost to Jesse Helms in 1990), and Jesse Jackson:

There will be numerous deconstructions over the days to come. Theories about how African-American candidates for office have confounded pollsters (see: Bradley, Wilder, Gant [sic], Jackson) will receive a thorough airing, and deservedly so. We in the media will beat ourselves (and deservedly so) for reaching conclusions before the voters have spoken. A further prediction? Give us a few weeks — we will promptly forget the lessons of this debacle in polling, predictions and primary politics. We will all live to screw up another day, though our performance in New Hampshire will be hard to beat.It should be noted that virtually everyone got it wrong. The only point of agreement among all the competing campaigns in New Hampshire was that Barack Obama was headed for a double-digit victory, as they told anyone who would listen. I have an e-mail from a Clinton fundraiser who denounced Hillary as a lost cause and threw his support to Obama while the polls were still open on Tuesday. A veteran Clinton loyalist spoke of the campaign in New Hampshire in the past tense on the morning of the election, saying the senator from New York had run smack into "an ideal... a movement," called Barack Obama. There was no defeating an ideal, said this completely defeated politico. Not this year, not in New Hampshire.In his beautiful, soaring concession speech, Obama mentioned the town of Lebanon for a reason. I was with him in Lebanon the day before — and what we saw there was a defining moment in the campaign. It surprised him, his staff members, the Secret Service on board the campaign bus, even the bus driver. We turned the corner toward the event and saw hundreds of people lined up through the streets of the town just to see him, to feel his aura and to later say that they'd done it — they'd been there. There were hundreds more than the venue could hold, and they stood there anyway, and kept coming. Obama, overwhelmed by the overflow crowd, insisted on an outdoor speech before his indoor speech. This much is important, and should be said: Any journalist covering any candidate that day, in that town, would have come away as I did after seeing those people, saying something akin to the old song lyric, "Something's happening here." A colleague of mine contends Obama got caught up in the history he was making. I don't think that's quite fair. The candidate didn't change his message as much as Iowa changed the way we heard it.That day, I saw people embrace Obama the way people embrace loved ones returning from foreign battlefields. I saw people with small children, brought along simply so their parents could years later tell them, to the point of predictable annoyance, "You were there." Losing in New Hampshire may well make Obama a better candidate. While it's the kind of thing that is always said at times like these by those of us whose names have never appeared on a ballot, I think it might just be true in this case.

Williams is right. With his journalistic method here -- see large rallies, see touched people, assume massive victory -- he's going to screw up again. His theory that "something's happening here" is geared more toward his own liberal hopes for Obama than the New Hampshire end result. Liberal reporters did the exact same swoon when Jesse Jackson impressed white liberal voters and won a few primaries in 1988. Was Jesse Jackson's 1988 campaign "historic"? In a small sense, yes, in that march to an eventual election of a black president. But the fact that few fixtures in the liberal media can recall just twenty years later whether he won a primary suggests it's already being forgotten.But let's assume Williams had been right, and Obama won New Hampshire by two points instead of lost by two points. If he cared about liberal bias, wouldn't he still see the possibility of self-fulfilling media prophecy, that the constant media insistence to voters that history is in the making will affect the result? Or is that what he's hoping for?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis