Catching up with Newsweek's Howard Fineman on Wednesday's Countdown, he came across as a parody of an in-the-tank for Barack Obama journalist as he gauzily proclaimed: “Obama's changing everything as he moves. His victory speech last night in Grant Park...was so memorable on so many levels.” Asked by host Keith Olbermann to predict “an overarching theme” for Obama's appointments, such as “competency, bipartisanship, diversity, newness,” Fineman went beyond Olbermann and trumpeted:
Well, it's going to be all of those. But I think, if you had to pick one, it would be excellence. Barack Obama is a guy who appreciates excellence and focus. He's a guy who appreciates results.
Okay, it’s probably a small thing to quibble about, but does everybody remember the impressive county-by-county election map that the New York Times published after the 2004 election, showing the United States as a sea of Republican red, with a few Democratic blue counties clustered on the coasts and a few urban pockets?
Well, today’s New York Times has a large map of the U.S. showing county-by-county election results as a sea of Democratic blue, with red areas limited to a few southern states, Arizona and Alaska. It looks like a Democratic landslide.
According to "Good Morning America" reporter Dan Harris, "No matter how you voted, it's hard to deny that we're having something of a national moment right now" over the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. The ABC correspondent appeared on Thursday's show to explain how the national and international celebration for the Democrat's victory was continuing.
In a tease for the piece at the top of the show, co-host Robin Roberts bubbled that the president-elect "woke up to a chorus of worldwide approval." (At no point did any of the journalists question whether foreign approval over an American president was a good thing or not.) Harris did allow that Obama wouldn't receive a "permanent honeymoon," but co-host Diane Sawyer closed the segment by cooing, "I was saying, my sister in France has people coming up to her and saying, American? Obama!"
Beware the tendency for media liberals to paint the new Team Obama as a surplus of centrists. Just after 8:30 on CNN's American Morning, Frank Sesno declared that Rep. Rahm Emanuel, projected as Obama's chief of staff, is seen as "on the center to center-right." But that's not what his congressional voting records suggest.
Examining “what went wrong” with John McCain's campaign, ABC's David Wright charged Wednesday night that by asserting Barack Obama would “be redistributionist in chief” McCain had “distorted Obama's policy positions” (how that was a distortion Wright did not say) and painted McCain as a hypocrite for having “mocked Obama as an empty-headed celebrity” before “he created a celebrity of his own,” Sarah Palin. While “many were impressed” with her, Wright snidely contended “plenty of others came to see Sarah Palin as an empty designer suit.” In castigating McCain from the left, Wright failed to offer any conservative critiques, such as McCain's lack of consistent conservative positions to contrast himself with Obama.
“If Barack Obama was driving the Cadillac of campaigns,” World News anchor Charles Gibson quipped, “John McCain was driving one that seemed in constant need of a tune-up and by the end it simply ran out of gas.” Wright fretted that after McCain won the GOP nomination “he started to change” and cut off media access, as if that led to his defeat: “The free-wheeling exchanges that put the Straight Talk Express on the map didn't last past the maiden voyage of Straight Talk Air.” Wright pointed out how “McCain had always promised to run a clean campaign on the issues,” but soon, Wright scolded, “McCain attacked Obama's associations....Obama's experience....and distorted Obama's policy positions.”
The broadcast network evening newscasts on Wednesday night all marked Barack Obama's victory with stories on celebrations around the world, the joy expressed by African-Americans and how newspapers sold out as people cheered in the streets. NBC anchor Brian Williams hailed: “As one columnist put it, America matured in 2008 by choosing Barack Obama.” CBS, however, aired the most triumphant story. Though Ronald Reagan earned nearly 59 percent of the vote in 1984 and George Bush captured more than 53 percent four years later, an awed Byron Pitts began by proposing about Obama's win with 52 percent: “When was the last time our nation cheered this much?”
Pitts proceeded to cite anecdotes about several people, black and white, who saw vindication in Obama's victory, including two women at “a suburban home in Iowa. Iowa, the state that first bought into Obama's audacious hopes and where a life-long Democrat like Deb Tekippe and a life long Republican like Brenda Myer made a toast with champagne.” He concluded:
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union.” That's what the Constitution says. Last night, all across America for so many people, that's how it felt. A more perfect union.
"Good Morning America" foreign correspondent Jim Sciutto rhapsodized about international reaction to Barack Obama's victory on Wednesday and described the president-elect as "the winner who's capturing the world's heart." Sciutto described much of the foreign response with the phrase "only in America."
Then, taking a shot at President Bush, he then added, "That's what we keep hearing in so many places around the world, a sense that Barack Obama embodies the American dream, a dream that, frankly, has been tarnished overseas in recent years by a very unpopular war in Iraq, a very unpopular president in President Bush."
Staff writers Jessica Garrison, Cara Mia DiMassa, and Nancy Vogel, who wrote the LA Times article, gave a straight-forward outline of the battle over Proposition 8 during the past months, summarizing who had supported and opposed the proposal. On the other hand, the unsigned CNN story devoted only the first three paragraphs to the California proposition, and spent the rest of the article to ballot initiatives in other states.
"Good Morning America" reporter Bill Weir gushed on Wednesday morning about the "transcendent" reaction to Senator Barack Obama's presidential victory. Discussing Tuesday night's jubilant crowds in New York City, where the ABC program is produced, Weir described the "melting pot of communal joy."
Weir enthused that the celebration was "the kind not seen on New Year's Eve or championship parades. At the crossroads of the world, voices from around the world shouted of the greatness of America." He added, "When the announcement was made, literal dancing in the streets...And people were locking in embraces, watching the speech there as well."
The journalist even recounted how he attempted to remind an African American mother of America's history with slavery. After this woman and her daughter saw a graphic on a jumbotron of all the presidents, one that included Obama as the nation's 44th commander in chief, Weir went over to the pair and attempted to invoke a negative reaction. He explained, "And I leaned over and said, you know, 12 of those men owned slaves. And the mother turned to me and said, 'That stain is washed.'"
Three of "The View" co-hosts are comedians by profession, but they unintentionally provided some comedy to the November 5 edition of "The View." After two segments of basking over Barack Obama’s victory, and the historic nature of the first African-American president, Sherri Shepherd and Whoopi Goldberg hammered away the need for more affirmative action. [audio excerpt here]
The panel’s two rich black women, whose children do not need a head start over poor white children, expressed disappointment that Nebraska voters approved a ballot initiative banning affirmative action. Sherri Shepherd felt that "there are some people who just need a leg up." Whoopi Goldberg, who just moments before celebrated Obama’s historic victory, opined that "if we lived in the country that we always pray that we’re going to wake up in where everything works and everybody is equal, you wouldn’t need affirmative action."
Earlier in the segment, Joy Behar, giddy over Obama’s victory, proclaimed it as "a triumph over negative campaigning." Did Joy forget the Obama ad mocking McCain’s age and war wounds?
If Michelle Obama gets tired of merely entertaining dignitaries as first lady, she might try her hand at editing for the Associated Press. After all, according to the AP, her husband has made it "cool" to be an American again. Yahoo.com is giving play to the story by featuring it as a top headline in the "World" section of its news page (see image at right).
From AP writer William J. Kole:
VIENNA, Austria – She was a stranger, and she kissed me. Just for being an American.
It happened on the bus on my way to work Wednesday morning, a few hours after compatriots clamoring for change swept Barack Obama to his historic victory. I was on the phone, and the 20-something Austrian woman seated in front of me overheard me speaking English.
Without a word, she turned, pecked me on the cheek and stepped off at the next stop.
Nothing was said, but the message was clear: Today, we are all Americans.
Before the networks had even declared Barack Obama the winner Tuesday night, CBS historian Douglas Brinkley announced that the “Age of Ronald Reagan” was “coming to an end tonight.” Shortly before 11pm EST, Brinkley told anchor Katie Couric: “We're looking at a historic victory for the Democrats and Barack Obama. I think you have to go back to 1964 when Lyndon Johnson had such a landslide over Barry Goldwater to see how momentous this is.”
In a Tuesday night piece wrapping up yesterday’s election, Newsweek’s Michael Hirsh sought out liberal historian Robert Dallek, who similarly declared that Obama’s win “is probably going to mark the end of the Reagan era — this whole conservative impulse that has dominated the country's politics for the last generation....I think you're going to see a whole new era of federal progressive activism.”
Now that America's demonstrated it's not as hopelessly racist as many minorities (and minority journalists) assumed, should we expect more optimism from the media? Not from NBC anchor Brian Williams, who insisted to Tavis Smiley on PBS Monday night that this country suppresses discussions of race and "If Obama wins this election, if these polls hold true, I think the national conversation about race -- game on. It's underway starting Wednesday morning if this happens, and the world is different." Obama only surpassed racism because he was the "perfect candidate."
This is a weird argument, to suddenly declare "game on" for race matters, since the Obama campaign and the media left race relations and issues like racial quotas off the discussion table on most days over this long campaign.
I've always said this about race: Every day, millions of Americans get up and see this elephant in the room, and choose to put it back under the bed, close the door, go to work, come home, it's still there. We see it every day, and we suppress it. We don't talk about it. We talk about the fringe, it flares up every once in a while, but we don't talk about it.
As the election postmortems continue, it seems a metaphysical certitude media representatives will cast Tuesday's results as indicative of a continued national shift to the left they believe began when the Democrats took over Congress in 2006.
However, the exit polls don't reflect such a shift at all.
In fact, there has been virtually no change to the percentage of folks claiming to be liberal or conservative in their political ideology since 2004.
Here are the relevant numbers (2004 here and 2008 here):
During a special post-election edition of American Morning on early Wednesday morning, CNN correspondent Carol Costello seemed to be confused as to what California’s proposed Proposition 8 would do and hinted that she was opposed to the effort. The initiative would amend the state’s constitution to ban same-sex "marriage." Costello first stumbled as she tried to explain the proposition: "These are the results that we have -- voting yes means you -- you would overturn -- voting yes means there would be a ban on same-sex marriage -- that's 52%. The no votes have 48%." She then continued as to when the results would be certain, and gave a hint as to where she stood on the issue: "We probably won't be able to call that until much later this afternoon, although we do remain hopeful." [audio excerpt here]
Co-anchor John Roberts introduced Costello’s segment, which began 23 minutes into the 4 am Eastern hour of the CNN program, and stated how, besides the presidential race, "from same-sex marriage to abortion, there were some hot-button issues on state ballots across the country, and our Carol Costello has been tracking the results of those." Costello actually focused on the same-sex "marriage" ballot questions during her report and didn’t mention anything of the other issues.
The co-hosts of Wednesday’s "CBS Early Show" used as many glowing adjectives as they could think of in reporting Barack Obama’s election to the presidency, with Harry Smith leading the way:
"America votes for change. Barack Obama elected the 44th President of the United States after a decisive victory over John McCain. The nation opens a new era, a powerful moment in history."
Maggie Rodriguez described what it was like to be at Obama’s victory speech in Chicago: "I have to say that to be here last night for that moment was to live history, it was a privilege...the sea of waving American flags and feeling the euphoria and the emotion that was emanating from that crowd here last night...a chilling victory speech, it -- it left people here just speechless, it was breath-taking."
Jaws dropped among NBC viewers just after President Bush's gracious White House speech today in the 10am hour of Today welcoming President-Elect Obama. NBC political analyst Chuck Todd accused Bush of looking like he "wanted to bask in the reflected glory of the history that was made...just like John McCain did last night." Todd also said it was striking since Bush was "the man who's probably more responsible for not just Obama's election but John McCain's defeat than anybody else." Todd also insisted Bush was "responsible" for all the GOP congressional losses. [audio available here]
Is this how NBC wants to greet two Republicans energetically offering gracious concessions? Trashing them for "basking" in Obama's glory? Here's a fuller transcript:
LAUER: Very gracious comments from the president during extremely difficult times for him this morning.
My NewsBusters colleagues, and conservatives across the blogosphere, are sure to be vying to document the most outrageous examples of the MSM's fawning reaction to the Obama victory.
Hopefully I'll have the honor of at least a brief clubhouse lead with my entry, the words of CBS Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen during this morning's opening segment.
JULIE CHEN: Yeah, it was so moving, um, last night. You couldn't help but feel so emotional, and I agree with you [Maggie Rodriguez], I think John McCain did a really classy job in his speech [he did, but MSM loves Republicans best as losers] in acknowledging Barack's [Julie on first-name basis] big win. And what was most inspiring to me was when Barack Obama was addressing that huge crowd, was watching such a diverse group of faces, all with so much hope in their eyes. That made me feel really good.
At about 2:50 AM EST Wednesday morning, MSNBC went live to NBC News reporter Dawna Friesen in London for world reaction to Barack Obama's election and she triumphantly declared: “It's not an overstatement to say that this is what the world wanted. Poll after poll done in countries around the world over the past few months has showed that people wanted Barack Obama to win.”
After blurry video of Kenyans dancing and singing a song which “had only two words, 'Obama' and 'miracle,'” Friesen held up the front page of London's left of center The Independent and explained how the newspaper's headline “dubbed” Obama "The history man." She also decided to highlight:
The diplomatic editor of The Independent interestingly writing that now is the time to undo the damage done by George W. Bush. I think much of the world does see this as really turning a page, moving on from George Bush. And the diplomatic editor says there's a global yearning for a seismic shift in American foreign policy.
At 11:49 PM EST, live from Morehouse College in Atlanta, ABC News reporter Steve Osunsami choked up and came near tears as he recalled how “my father used to tell us that there's no way this country would elect a black President,” but “this evening, the country has proved my old man wrong -- and we're the better for it.”
As he stood with cheering students, Osunsami told anchor Charlie Gibson:
Charlie, I've watched a number of students here call their parents, call their fathers, their brothers and sisters. I received a text from a friend of mine who said black Americans everywhere should thank the country.
From a personal note, as a kid, I grew up in a neighborhood that was mostly black and my father used to tell us that there's no way this country would elect a black President. Well, this evening, the country has proved my old man wrong -- and we're the better for it.
In an interview from Chicago's Grant Park taped shortly beforehand and aired on ABC just past 10:30 PM EST/9:30 PM local time, an excited Oprah Winfrey told Good Morning America's Robin Roberts:
I haven't seen this sense of unity since 9/11, really, really, and 9/11 was this tragic experience that brought us all together and now we're all brought together in the name of hope. Not since 9/11 have I experienced anything even kind of close to this.
Of course, the 47 percent who voted for McCain may not share Winfrey's unity.
She had prefaced that contention: “It's my town. My town's been vibrating all day. I mean, from the moment I left the building this morning -- the doorman, everybody vibrates, just great. It's one of the greatest experiences of, certainly my lifetime and it's been wonderful, I think, for everybody in the country who has called somebody or somebody has called them. Everybody was e-mailing everybody standing in line.”
NBC anchor Brian Williams appeared on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS on Monday night and trashed Joe the Plumber's anti-tax cause as a silly issue, not a serious question about the redistribution of wealth: "Look at how our attention was able to get pulled into pigs and lipstick and plumbers. We got a plumber who's the third member of the GOP ticket, in effect, and that's - it's all of our fault, yes, and there will be time to bloody our own backs with chains, but it's also the sorry state of our discourse as if, Tavis, we don't have enough serious issues to concentrate on." Williams added: "I think we may find out it was a movement year, we may find out we all had to step aside and just let it happen, and we may decide we went down too many rat holes of distractions on our way there."
Williams also complained once again about the delay in his Sarah Palin interview, given his network’s leading stature. "I went more than third -- I went fifth or sixth," even as he added: "I think she's a professional at her job, I try to be at mine, and we kind of quickly got over it." Sounds like he hasn’t.
During live coverage, on Tuesday's "Today" show, of Barack Obama voting in his home state, Andrea Mitchell postulated that he will have to confront a "liberal" Congress because Obama, himself, is a "centrist." The Senator with the most liberal voting record, according to Mitchell, will be the one to "rein in expectations from and empowered liberal majority in the House and Senate."
Mitchell made the following proclamation on the November 4, edition of "Today" show:
ANDREA MITCHELL: If Obama is elected and if it is a big margin, two big "ifs" he's also gonna have to rein in expectations from an empowered liberal majority in the House and Senate. House might be harder to deal with than the Senate because they have been not only making promises but building expectations for people, for health care and for all sorts of reforms in Medicare and more benefits on.
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Well that's been the Republican cry, right? "Watch out for Pelosi and Reid and everybody if, if the Democrats take over!"
MITCHELL: As we saw in 1992 with Bill Clinton. Smaller issues but back then he had to deal with a Congress that was more liberal than he. And Barack Obama, if you look at whom his advisers are, is more centrist than the Democrat majority.
It's taken them awhile, but good to see that MSNBC has now seamlessly integrated its own promotional advertising with that of the Obama campaign.
An MSNBC promo that just aired, touting the network's election coverage, concludes: "Watch MSNBC, and experience the power of change." And as you'll see from the screencap, who is at the center of MSNBC's coverage but Keith Olbermann. Oh, and prior to its parting shot, the promo's soundtrack is the voice of JFK, in his famous "ask not" line from the 1961 inaugural address.
In a Thursday night appearance on the PBS show Charlie Rose, it was revealed that the Democratic ticket could have been Obama-Brokaw. Rose reported: "I think it was Caroline Kennedy who said that when they have the short [running mate] list for Barack Obama, there was a name down there somewhere?" Tom Brokaw replied: "My name was on it." Rose pestered Brokaw to go into public service after his latest NBC stint ends: "There comes a time, you are reminding me of a conceited anchorman who once said to raise your right hand to enlist." Brokaw didn’t utterly reject the idea of serving a new administration: "I understand the need to step up from time to time, and if the right opportunity came along, I would certainly be willing to take a good, hard look at that."
Rose also curiously worried that a President Obama might end up being a very cautious centrist: "What do you make of him? Tell me what you see there. Because I was talking to a friend of mine, and he said, I see someone who is clearly aspirational, someone who is clearly bright, someone who is clearly ambitious in the best sense of that, but who is clearly cautious, and in the end, he may very well be a man of the center."
New York Times reporter Katharine Seelye set the Election Day scene in her front-page story "Election Night (Popcorn Included)," an hour-by-hour guide for interpreting tonight's electoral results. It contained several dire predictions for McCain and the future of the GOP if various states (including Indiana, Virginia, and New Mexico) go for Obama.
On the other hand, Seelye warned that if McCain managed to win Pennsylvania, it would not be a crushing blow for Obama, but would instead bring up deep concerns about latent racism and the (perhaps mythological) "Bradley effect," in which white voters lie to pollsters, saying they favor a black candidate, but then vote for the white one.
In the 8:30AM half hour of Tuesday’s CBS Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez led live coverage of Barack Obama voting in Chicago and asked Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer: "Bob, how must he be feeling right now?" A choked up Schieffer replied: "Well, I mean, this is a -- this is a remarkable moment in American history. Stop and think about this, 150 years ago there were 31 million people who lived in this country, 4 million of those people were slaves, 4 million people. And, today, here you have an African-American who may be elected president of this country. This is not -- people keep talking about the American people may be ready to turn a page, but it's not just a political page, this is a page of American history." Rodriguez agreed: "Absolutely."
Co-host Harry Smith joined the coverage and actually wondered if Obama was voting for himself: "I'm wondering, I would love to ask him afterwards whether or not he voted for himself...Because having voted in school elections and stuff like that, we were taught as kids sometimes you vote for the other guy because that's how -- that's how -- it's an honorable thing to say that 'I honor your presence here. This was a battle well fought.' And I would be very interested to know whether or not he voted for himself." A realistic Schieffer replied: "I'm betting he did." Smith responded: "Yeah, I'm betting he did. I'm just bringing up a question."
Whoopi Goldberg, in defending Reverend Wright, admitted to, at times "cuss[ing] out America." On the November 4 (Election Day) edition of "The View," a conversation about Sarah Palin’s clearance in the "Troopergate" probe quickly morphed into a fight (three on one) over Reverend Wright. In justifying Wright’s "God damn America" remark, Whoopi confessed "I have been guilty of cussing this country out because we have not always shown our best and put our best foot forward."
Aiding Whoopi’s tirade against Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Sherri Shepherd defended Obama’s decision to forego public financing "because they’re swift boating Barack Obama with this Jeremiah Wright stuff." Sherri and Whoopi also scolded Elisabeth for allegedly not understanding black issues and Reverend Wright’s bitterness towards his country.
Adding to the pile on, Joy Behar, for her part, claimed she did not want to sit in judgment as a white woman stating "I don’t really think that I have any business to discuss what goes on in a black church because I am not black." When Elisabeth called out Joy for defending Wright when "Obama hasn’t," Behar comically denied defending Wright. When Elisabeth questioned Obama for sitting in Wright’s church for 20 years, Behar made a bizarre comparison claiming "A lot of people sat- a lot of people sat for eight years while Bush committed his little atrocities. So let’s not cast stones."