NBC's Allen, CBS's Pitts Match ABC's Osunsami In Swooning Over Obama Win
ABC's Steve Osunsami wasn't the only black reporter to get emotional and swoon over an Obama victory on Election Night. Ron Allen of NBC and Byron Pitts of CBS also let their pro-Obama feelings loose on election night.
In the 11 pm hour on MSNBC, as anchor David Gregory proclaimed, "We want to keep soaking up the moment from Grant Park," he turned to Allen for his emotional reaction to the win. He said America opened its eyes and its heart and accepted Obama's skills and talents:
I've heard so many people in the African-American community say that they wish that there was a father, a mother, a relative who had lived to see this day. It's something so many people have said.
I also feel the same thing.
My father and Aunt Jeanette who recently passed away, who was so instrumental in trying to expose me and teach me things I might have learned in my own neighborhood. I've also heard so many people say that they hope that this essentially -- what people want, what people in the African-American community want is to be seen, is to be visible. And I think that Barack Obama, he is able to get the country to see him for who he was, to see his talents, to see his skills, to see his abilities and to accept him and to give him this incredible opportunity to lead the nation. I -- it's -- what does this mean to America? Someone asked that earlier.
You know, I think that's an interesting question. What will it mean? It means that America has opened up its eyes, has opened up its heart, is embracing this individual, his family, his background, and what he brings forward, to watch this sea of people, it's a very moving time and so hard to put into words. I think everybody just hopes from here we move forward."
NPR's media reporter David Folkenflik found the same with CBS correspondent Byron Pitts soon after the news hit (we couldn't record it due to local coverage):
Byron Pitts of CBS, an African-American correspondent who grew up in East Baltimore, shared a personal moment with anchor Katie Couric - and viewers.
"A little while ago, Katie, I called my mom, a black woman born in the segregated South - she's 76 years old - she was born at a time in this country when it would have been dangerous for her to look a white woman in the eye," Pitts said, a bit choked up. "I said, 'Momma, what do you think?' She said, 'Baby, I have four words for you - 'glory hallelujah. Glory hallelujah.' "
Couric, thinking she was off the air, turned to Pitts a moment later, and said, "I want to call your Mom!"
Neither of these reporters were prominent Obama boosters on their networks. The real offenders were paleface propagandists like NBC's Lee Cowan or ABC's David Wright. Pitts was much more noticeable as a flagrant John Kerry booster in 2004. We haven't called many fouls on Ron Allen over the years. Pitts did make Notable Quotables in June for this swoon on the news when Obama won the primary election:
Barack Obama and his wife Michelle walked into history's arms last night....Just like JFK's journey as the first Catholic President, America crossed a milestone....One of America's oldest and ugliest color lines has been broken, and there's a new bridge for a new generation.
Rachel Sklar at Eat the Press also noticed that NBC executive (and former top Newsweek editor) Mark Whitaker was also swooning, noting he shared Obama's biracial background. Whitaker and Lyne Pitts, the wife of Byron Pitts, both joined the executive ranks at NBC News in the wake of the Don Imus "nappy-headed hos" furor.
A conservative can surely grant some excitement over a color line crossed after all these years. But it's quite obvious that this same enthusiasm would not extend to a black conservative, whether it was Justice Clarence Thomas, or if, say, McCain had picked Michael Steele as a running mate and had won. Black journalists, like many other blacks, seem to find only black liberals and leftists to be authentically black, and find only their political victories as worth celebrating. That is not an encouraging note about the fairness of Obama coverage yet to unfold.