Networks Swoon Again for Barack Obama, Tout His 'Big Step' Toward Presidential Bid

Just as when Democratic Senator Barack Obama said he was considering a presidential campaign last October, his announcement Monday -- via a Web video that he has set up an exploratory committee -- unleashed media excitement. The CBS Evening News treated it as one of the two big stories of the day: “I'm Katie Couric. Two major stories tonight: A vicious attack in Baghdad....And Senator Barack Obama takes a big step toward running for President. He says it's time for a change.” After that tease, Couric announced: “Hi everyone. He's generated a lot of excitement. And now it looks like Senator Barack Obama is, indeed, jumping into the presidential race. We'll have more about that in a moment.”

Over on ABC's World News, which devoted more than four minutes to the topic, anchor Kate Snow trumpeted how “Democratic rising star Barack Obama takes a major step toward a run for the White House.” She soon trumpeted how “the presidential race got a major jolt today. The man who could become the first African-American President took a major step toward becoming a candidate.” Snow even spun a negative into a positive: “His political resume is rather thin, but in the 2008 race, that could be a plus.” NBC anchor Brian Williams teased “a big step tonight for Barack Obama” before touting how “a bit of political history was made today, kind of, when Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama almost declared his candidacy for President.”

NBC Nightly News, at least, held it's Obama story to a 1:30 piece from Chip Reid and Williams, unlike ABC and CBS, took 20 seconds to note the opening of an presidential exploratory committee by Republican Tom Tancredo.

Of the coverage aired on the three networks, only ABC's Jake Tapper uttered the “liberal” label in connection with Obama: “In recent trips to key early primary states Iowa and New Hampshire, Obama drew praise for presenting fairly traditional liberal views as fresh and inspiring.”

Last October 23, my MRC CyberAlert item, “ABC & NBC Hail 'Remarkable' and 'Exciting'
Obama Presidential Bid,” recounted the media's excitement after Obaama announced on Meet the Press that he was considering a presidential run. That thrill continued, as detailed in my NewsBusters item that night: “For 2nd Night, Nets Trumpet 'Political Phenom' Obama, a 'Sensation' and 'Rock Star.'”

The teases and story set-ups on the January 16 evening newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC:

ABC's World News with Charles Gibson (4:15 to Obama story)

Kate Snow's tease:
“On his mark: Democratic rising star Barack Obama takes a major step toward a run for the White House. Why is a first term Senator causing such a stir?”
Snow's introduction:
“To political news now. The presidential race got a major jolt today. The man who could become the first African-American President took a major step toward becoming a candidate. Senator Barack Obama opened an exploratory committee to raise money and hire staff. His political resume is rather thin, but in the 2008 race, that could be a plus. ABC's senior political correspondent Jake Tapper joins us now.”

CBS Evening News (3:00 on the Obama story, not counting Couric's top of show tease and intro)

Couric's tease:
“I'm Katie Couric. Two major stories tonight: A vicious attack in Baghdad....And Senator Barack Obama takes a big step toward running for President. He says it's time for a change.”
Obama in exploratory site video: “I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics.”
Couric at top of newscast:
“Hi everyone. He's generated a lot of excitement. And now it looks like Senator Barack Obama is, indeed, jumping into the presidential race. We'll have more about that in a moment.”
Couric set up fpr the Obama story:
“Now to the Barack Obama story. After months of speculation, the freshman Senator from Illinois says yes, he does want to be the next President of the United States. The official announcement will come next month. But today he said he's forming an exploratory committee. Gloria Borger is our national political correspondent. Gloria, Obama had a thoroughly modern way of getting his message out today.”
NBC Nightly News (1:30 on Obama)

Brian Williams' tease:
“A big step tonight for Barack Obama. One step closer to running for President. Is it a game-changer for the Democrats?”
The story intro from Williams:
“And in this country, a bit of political history was made today, kind of, when Illinois Democratic Senator Barack Obama almost declared his candidacy for President. Officially, he's forming an exploratory committee, which usually means, unofficially, he's running. Chip Reid will explain all of it for us tonight. He's on the Hill. Chip, what are we seeing here?”
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