Douglas Brinkley predictably gushed over President Obama on Saturday's CBS This Morning, and hailed the Democrat's Friday speech on the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial: "It certainly was historic....I think it elevated the Trayvon Martin story, really, to the annals of DayGlo, top-tier history....it was quite memorable." Brinkley later heralded the President as a "constant grief counselor."
Substitute anchors Maurice DuBois and Vinita Nair also gushed over the address, and seconded the liberal historian's praise for Obama: "This was really a historic speech, in the sense that he also got very personal and said, this could have been me 35 years ago." [audio available here; video below the jump]
DuBois wasted little time before asking Brinkley a leading question about the supposed historical significance of the President's speech: "Now, this was certainly extraordinary for a sitting president to make remarks like these. Could we call it historic?" The Kennedy-praising writer replied with his over-the-top analysis:
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: It certainly was historic. I mean, you have the first African-American president weighing in on a case that took part in Florida. I think it elevated the Trayvon Martin story, really, to the annals of DayGlo, top-tier history.
In many ways, this president has been a constant grief counselor. We flash back to Newtown or Tucson or Aurora – he always seems to be hand-holding, and, in this particular moment, he was talking – he used the term 'black folk' – and he was trying to explain – tell the rest of America how black people are seeing this particular case in Florida. So, it was quite memorable.
Nair continued with her "this was really a historic speech" line, and asked the historian, "Did he [Obama] choose sides? Is he choosing sides? You're a historian. How will history remember the speech?" Brinkley continued his praise, but also added his own prediction about how the aftermath of the case might affect the upcoming congressional elections:
BRINKLEY: Well, I think he split it down the middle in the sense that he, kind of, let the judge and the jury off of the hook from getting any heat. But I think the aim now is on the Florida law – you know, and this notion that you can carry a weapon around like this and 'stand your ground'. So, you may see, in the upcoming mid-term election, Democrats saying, no more 'stand your ground' laws. We've got to get rid of this. This is a product of Governor [Rick] Scott of Florida. It's a product of right-wing extremism.
So, this was a political statement at the very end of the line. I mean, it comes after you as a personal sentiment. And Barack Obama had to comment on this. Imagine what history would say if he just stayed – stayed quiet. There was a drumbeat for him to come out. And I think you might see larger numbers today at the vigils – a hundred supposedly – going on around America, because now it's – it's got that presidential imprimatur.
DuBois ended the segment by wondering "how different it is for this president – say, than any of his predecessors...to talk about race in America. I mean, people were waiting for him to come forward, as if he had to, more so than – say, President Clinton or President Bush, or even President Reagan?" The historian answered, in part, that "this was a man speaking from the heart. He just is really bothered by Trayvon Martin. I think we have to really feel that it was emotional for all Americans, but particularly, for African-Americans – that verdict in Florida."
Brinkley has a history of hyperbole about the incumbent President. Back in January 2013, the liberal writer took part in a CNN panel that hyped Obama's second inaugural address: "I thought it was a marvelous speech and it's brave and it's bold and I think it's going to play well in history. Not enough people are talking about the climate change part." He also played up the President's apparent personal qualities during a October 26, 2012 segment on CBS This Morning: "He's [Obama] a very natural person....He's a really warm and genial person. What he has going for him is he exudes family values."
The full transcript of the Douglas Brinkley segment from Saturday's CBS This Morning is available at MRC.org.