NBC's Lee Cowan Glows Over Obama Frosh Photos: 'Humble Beginnings!'

NBC's Lee Cowan, on Thursday's "Today" show, giddily highlighted new found photos taken of Barack Obama when he was a freshman at Occidental College and even cooed at a shot of him sitting on an old Goodwill couch, "Humble beginnings!" Cowan interviewed Obama's old college classmate Lisa Jack who took the photographs, because she claimed she was told to get pictures of the then freshman because he "definitely had personality," and added, "He was cute. I mean look at him."

The following Obama puff piece was aired on the May 28, "Today" show:

NATALIE MORALES: Well the President, President Barack Obama is one of the most photographed people in the world but it's never before seen pictures of the President, before he was famous, that are turning heads these days. NBC's Lee Cowan has that story.

[On screen headline: "'Barry The Freshman,' Early Photos Of Obama Revealed]

LEE COWAN: It started with Barack Obama's first big win in Iowa.

BARACK OBAMA: They said this day would never come.

COWAN: That got Lisa Jack thinking about her former college classmate and a box in the basement.

LISA JACK, PHOTOGRAPHER: I was like, "Oh my God!" I mean it's really one of those "ah-ha!" moments.

COWAN: In a battered blue notebook, wrapped in wax paper, were 36 forgotten pictures of a freshman she was told she had to photograph because-

JACK: He had, definitely had personality. And he was cute. I mean look at him. You gotta admit.

COWAN: Barry, as she called the future president back in 1980, had just started at Occidental College. It's a two-year part of his life he rarely talks about, and one from which there are few pictures until Lisa found hers.

JACK: We have essentially an entire roll of film that's good and usable. Which is, he was a natural.

COWAN: She took the pictures as part of a class project in photography.

JACK: We have the future President of the United States sitting on a wrinkled blanket, over a decrepit Goodwill couch. And it just doesn't get better than that, does it?

COWAN: Humble beginnings.

JACK: Humble beginnings!

COWAN: There are light-hearted pictures.

JACK POINTING AT PHOTO: I just, I just love that.

COWAN: The Panama hat was his, by the way, along with the bomber jacket and a couple of cigarettes. But there were the pensive photos too.

JACK: Look at those eyes. It shows strength to me. He had presence, even back then.

COWAN: Lisa decided to keep the pictures in a safe deposit box, until the election was over.

JACK: I didn't want in any way, shape or form to have an impact on an election, in any way.

COWAN: Time magazine did use a few in their Person of the Year issue, but the rest have never been seen, until now. History from a class project. By the way Lisa got an "A." For "Today," Lee Cowan, NBC News, Los Angeles.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.