"Good Morning America" kicked off its inauguration coverage on Tuesday with an anonymous announcer enthusiastically repeating the talking points of Barack Obama. During a 7am tease, this voice trumpeted, "Barack Obama sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. A new face from a new generation. Driven by an audacity to hope." (audio clip here)
The male announcer continued his introduction of the ABC show: "The nation's capital, filled to capacity. A journey of millions, fueled by hope and the shared dreams of a renewed America...And a call to overcome challenges not seen in generations." While discussing the throng of visitors descending on Washington D.C. a few minutes later, GMA host Diane Sawyer announced, "We saw a silent pilgrimage proceeding through this city."
Updated: 2009-01-20 18:30:39
As a comparison, how did "Good Morning America" begin its coverage of President Bush's second inaugural on January 20, 2005? For that show, an announcer narrated: "This is a special edition of 'Good Morning America.' The second inauguration of George W. Bush. Live from the Library of Congress, in Washington D.C., Charles Gibson, Diane Sawyer and Peter Jennings." There was no flowery introduction, no repeating of campaign talking points, just a simple opening accompanied by pictures and videos of past inaugurations.
During another segment in the 7am hour, correspondent Brian Ross examined the small group of wealthy donors who are funding elaborate inaugural celebrations. And although the piece operated under the liberal assumption of the corrupting nature of money in politics, Ross should be credited for focusing the same negative attention on Obama that would certainly be placed on a Republican.
He began, "Well, in this 'we are one' inaugural, some seem more equal than others." After observing that 216 wealthy donors had paid millions towards these celebrations, he chided, "Even in the middle of a brutal recession, there's been no shortage of wealthy Americans ready to pay for the most expensive inaugural ever."
In a challenging tone, Ross closed his piece by critiquing Obama: "When he announced he was running for president, Barack Obama railed against those who write a check and get access. Now, we'll soon find out if that was just campaign rhetoric or an honest pledge to go against the system of money in power that has long ruled Washington."
A transcript of the introductory segment, which aired at 7am, follows:
ABC ANNOUNCER: This morning, a new dawn: Barack Obama sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. A new face from a new generation. Driven by an audacity to hope.
PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: They said this day would never come.
ANNOUNCER: It has. It's here.
OBAMA: Change has come to America.
ANNOUNCER: The nation's capital, filled to capacity. A journey of millions, fueled by hope and the shared dreams of a renewed America.
OBAMA: Yes we can.
ANNOUNCER: And a call to overcome challenges not seen in generations.
OBAMA: I stand here as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure. That the dreams of our founders will live on in our time.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live, a special edition of "Good Morning America" from Washington D.C., the inauguration of Barack Obama.
DIANE SAWYER: And good morning, America. It is January 20th, 2009. The morning we will inaugurate the 44th president of the United States at a ceremony as old as the nation itself. Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts. And what scenes we have witnessed this morning. It started at the crack of dawn. People starting to arrive. Look at these pictures! Hundreds of thousands of people already with their blankets, their thermoses, their waves and their smiles. We saw a silent pilgrimage proceeding through this city. The sidewalks completely filled as people are already getting in place for inauguration ceremonies.
ROBERTS: The metro, which is the train system here in D.C. was packed at 1:45am. They closed it for a little bit. Reopened it at 4:00am. It was packed again. So, as Diane said, already over several hundred. More than two million expected today.
SAWYER: That's right. We want to give you a sense of the dimensions here. Because if we take a look at ceremonies past. Take a look at President George W. Bush. 400,000 people came to his inauguration. We can show you right there on the map of the capital leading down the mall. Then we had 800,000 at Bill Clinton's. And the most ever, Lyndon Johnson's at 1.2 million. But a projected two to three million expected to come today. Think of it this way. It's as if the entire population of New Mexico decided to come to the mall today.
ROBERTS: Keep that in mind.