Networks Hype Obama's 'Powerful' Commencement Speech; Set Aside Over Five Minutes of Air Time

ABC, CBS, and NBC touted President Obama's Sunday commencement address at Morehouse College in Atlanta on their Sunday evening and Monday morning newscasts, devoting a total of five minutes and 14 seconds to the "powerful speech", as NBC's Tamron Hall labeled it on Monday's Today. On Monday's CBS This Morning, Norah O'Donnell gushed, "I think it's one of those speeches that will be looked at over the years."

Lester Holt played up the President's apparent "voice of experience" on Sunday's NBC Nightly News, and asserted that "the President is sharing in a way we rarely hear him."

Lester Holt, NBC News Anchor; Screen Cap From 19 May 2013 Edition of NBC Nightly News | NewsBusters.orgHolt played 1 minute and 29 seconds of soundbites from the President's speech uninterrupted on the NBC evening newscast. The anchor twice teased the segment with his "voice of experience" phrase, underlining that the chief executive advised "graduates to set an example and points to his own struggles as a man of color." Just before playing the clips from Mr. Obama's address, Holt pointed out that "the President spoke in very personal terms, tying Dr. King's journey to his own struggles growing up."

By contrast, fill-in anchor Jim Axelrod gave a 35-second news brief on the President's Morehouse speech on Sunday's CBS Evening News. Sunday's World News on ABC set aside 42 seconds in wider report about commencement addresses to the Democrat's speech, but also mentioned First Lady Michelle Obama's address to a high school graduation ceremony in Nashville.

The following morning, CBS This Morning played a 11-second clip of President Obama near the very beginning of the program. Fifty minutes later, O'Donnell and co-anchor Charlie Rose devoted a 1 minute, 4 second-segment to the Morehouse College commencement. Rose noted how his colleague was "saying how much you thought this speech was so in tune with a man trying to give you some sense of my experience." She replied with her "one of those speeches that will be looked at over the years" line.

On Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos followed the lead of World News in spotlighting both speeches from Mr. and Mrs. Obama during a larger segment. Altogether, the ABC morning newscast aired 49 seconds of reporting on the addresses. On Today, Chuck Todd mentioned the President's appearance at Morehouse at the end of a report on the IRS' targeting of conservative groups. Just under an hour later, Hall gave a 14-second news brief on the second-term executive's address where she used her "powerful" label. The NBC morning show's coverage of the President's speech totaled one minute and 1 second.

The transcripts of ABC, CBS, and NBC's coverage of President Barack Obama's commencement speech at Morehouse College on the Sunday evening and Monday morning newscasts are available at MRC.org.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center