Morning Shows Sell Barack Obama's N.H. Trip Like An Inspirational Movie
It was an all-Obama Monday as each of the three network morning shows highlighted the Illinois Senator’s weekend trip to New Hampshire. NBC, ABC and CBS all hyped the prospect of a potential Barack Obama presidential campaign as the senator made his rounds through the state, host of the first presidential primary. The trip was hailed as a successful venture by all the networks. ABC’s Jake Tapper on Good Morning America declared Obama’s appearance to be "very successful", while Norah O’Donnell over on Today, as the MRC’s Geoff Dickens noted, stated that Obama was "mobbed by supporters" and "ignited excitement," among New Hampshire Democrats. CBS’ Harry Smith on The Early Show went further, calling the buzz surrounding Obama’s trip a "sensation," during a question to political analyst Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report:
Harry Smith: "Front page USA Today, Barack Obama right there, front page, Washington Post, Barack Obama right there. I could go on and on and on and on and on. Why is this single appearance causing such a sensation?"
To their credit, both ABC and NBC’s reports featured concerns that Obama is too inexperienced on national matters to be a formidable presidential candidate. Tapper acknowledged Obama’s "relatively thin resume and little experience" during his piece, while O’Donnell noted that the senator’s "biggest challenge may be his political inexperience, especially when it comes to national security."
On CBS, however, there was no mention of Obama’s inexperience during correspondent Trish Regan’s report on the visit. Harry Smith also ignored the issue during his interview with Amy Walter. Walter, however, did mention his inexperience, and spun it into a possible asset for the senator:
Smith: "And for his part I thought it was very interesting. He said 'I know this was, you know, part of my 15 minutes of fame.' He, he seems to have stepped back a little bit from it. It's not like he's breathing the ether."
Walter: "Well that's, in so many ways, what Democrats, so many Democratic activists like about him is that he hasn't -- he's not Washington. He's not establishment. He's not part of the system. He doesn't live and breathe it in the same way so many of the other potential candidates do. And while, you know, some folks would say 'well, he really lacks a lot of experience, he's only been in the Senate a very short time.' That very fact of his lack of Washington experience makes him an attractive candidate. He doesn't sound or look or talk like somebody from Washington."
All the morning shows also mentioned the threat an Obama campaign would have on another prominent potential Democratic candidate, Senator Hillary Clinton. O’Donnell stated that Obama, who if victorious would become the nation’s first black president, had stolen the spotlight from Clinton, who would be the first female president:
Norah O’Donnell: "Obama would be the first black president and for now he's stolen the spotlight from the early frontrunner Senator Clinton who would be the first female president."
John Harwood: "She's watching and waiting and her team is a little chagrined by how much Obama has taken over the, taken over the landscape."
Tapper featured a new Obama fan as Clinton’s "worst nightmare":
Tapper: "Even with a relatively thin resume and little experience, Obama is winning converts. Meet Hillary Clinton's worst nightmare, New Hampshire voter Kim Cain, who used to like Hillary until she met Barack."
Kim Cain, voter: "I would love to have a woman president. But I think she's too--too much of a politician."
On CBS, Walter portrayed the Obama buzz as a positive for Clinton:
Smith: "It's so interesting. Because just in the last week or so, Hillary Clinton has named all kinds of people to certain positions to prepare her way for the future. If you're in her camp, sort of the defacto front-runner, what are you thinking as you're here, as you wake up this morning and everybody is talking about Barack Obama?"
Walter: "Well, you know, this is one of those things that might actually be better. It's always hard being the front runner, right, because all the attention, all the spotlight, the media goes to you and sometimes it means that, then you're getting the brunt of all the criticism. Sometimes it's a little bit easier when somebody else may take start taking some of that flack, start taking some of that heat and putting it off on him and see how he responds. We all know that she's going to have the money, the name I.D., the expertise to run a solid campaign. What she's waiting for right now is to see just what, what kind of candidate Barack Obama becomes."
As it gets closer to the 2008 election and the campaigns start to heat up, it will be interesting to see if the media’s giddy fascination with Obama continues. As Tapper himself noted at the end of his piece, "with so little known about him, we don’t know if the headlines are always going to stay this positive."