On Monday's inaugural edition of the "NBC Nightly News," well known Obama fan Lee Cowan made no effort to restrain his fawning over the new president, likening the experience of watching the Democrat's speech to being in a "political cathedral." After featuring clips of people viewing the address all over the country, Cowan cooed, "In the end, though, it really didn't matter where you were as long as you weren't alone." (audio excerpt available here)
He added, "Just ordinary street corners like this one here in Chicago fell silent, almost becoming a political cathedral of sorts." Cowan, the man who once announced that covering Barack Obama made his "knees quake," closed the segment by rhapsodizing, "And almost everyone was making that mental scrapbook, noting the time and place where they were on this day and, perhaps, shared a collective tear." It was, he said, "An event meant to be remembered and one meant to be shared."
It seems inaugural attendees weren't the only ones cheerful about George W. Bush's departure from Washington, D.C., Tuesday, for only the Fox News Channel aired a live broadcast of the homecoming ceremony held in Midland, Texas, for our 43rd President.
The rest of the networks, however, did not see the Bush address as news fit to broadcast. At 6:40 p.m. EST, MSNBC was in the middle of "Hardball," with host Chris Matthews and guests batting around the meaning of Obama's swearing-in. CNN was carrying live ongoing coverage of the final moments of the inaugural parade, with the Obamas beaming from the White House reviewing stand.
Too bad, for it might have been one of his finest speeches ever (video embedded below the fold):
It appears the good folks at Comedy Central noticed the same thing that many on the right have been saying for many months: Barack Obama's vision of hope and change when distilled down is actually nothing new.
In fact, according to "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart, parts of Obama's inaugural address Tuesday sounded like what George W. Bush has been telling the nation for eight years.
Strap yourselves in tightly, for Stewart in the video embedded below the fold went where no Obama-loving media member would dare (h/t our dear friend MsUnderestimated):
NBC's Andrea Mitchell encapsulated the veneration for Barack Obama and what his inauguration means to the media elite as she began a Tuesday NBC Nightly News story about her day watching the festivities: “It may take days or years to really absorb the significance of what happened to America today, even for those of us who were lucky enough to have a very close up front view.” Showing a clip of the new President saying “I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear,” Mitchell proudly trumpeted: “His very name opening doors, as did his speech, to the rest of the world.” And while most saw a sea of people waving flags, Mitchell saw something more meaningful for Obama, though it reflected more about her: “The mass flickering of cell phone cameras on the mall seemed like stars shining back at him.”
She also touted “the final blessing from a civil rights icon, the Reverend Joseph Lowery, changing the tones of official Washington,” but his prayer hardly saw a unified nation. In the soundbite she aired, he lectured the American people: “We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right.”
Nightline's slug for its Tuesday night story about President Obama's inauguration: “America the Beautiful.”
With that iconic song title on screen over images of Barack Obama being sworn in as President, President Obama and Michelle Obama walking during the parade and views of the crowd, at the top of the program ABC's Terry Moran plugged a segment:
America the Beautiful: The nation and the world pause to witness an extraordinary milestone as nearly two million people come together to hail the new chief and celebrate an era of change.
Offering the most hyperbolic take of the night on the crowds who attended President Obama's inauguration, on World News ABC's Bill Weir delighted in wondering “can national pride make a freezing day feel warmer?” He decided it can indeed since “never have so many people shivered so long with such joy” while “from above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity.” Weir was certainly awed.
Meanwhile, over on the NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams must have been as awed as those seagulls since he contended he could “feel” the masses watching from around the nation: “While it was unfolding today here in Washington, you could feel the millions around the country who were watching it all.”
Reflecting on the mood of the crowd at Barack Obama's Inauguration, NBC's Tom Brokaw likened it to when he was present for the fall of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. During NBC's live coverage of Obama's swearing-in on Tuesday, Brokaw declared, "It reminds me of the Velvet Revolution," and while Brokaw noted "a communist regime," was not being overthrown he pointed out, "an unpopular president is leaving and people have been waiting for this moment." [audio available here]
The following Brokaw blurb was aired at around 10:02am EST on NBC's January 20 pre-Inaugural speech coverage:
There's no pleasing the greeniacs, I suppose. Eco-evangelism knows no holiday as environmentalists take aim at the buses ferrying caravans of Obama fans to the swearing-in.
Perhaps showing that the only criticism of Obama the print media finds worthy of printing is mild critiques from the left, today's "Inauguration Watch" digest in the Washington Post has the story in a 5-paragraph squib printed on page B4:
Environmental advocates are concerned about the impact on air quality caused by the thousands of buses that are descending on Washington.
Clean Air Watch Director Frank O'Donnell said the "virtual armada of diesel buses" rolling into town might actually have a positive impact. Black clouds of soot might be exactly what it will take to raise awareness for policy change, he said.
Less than an hour before Barack Obama took the oath of office, ABC News anchor Charles Gibson spotted former Vice President Al Gore arriving at the inauguration, and Gibson fantasized about how this could have been Gore's last day in office, not George W. Bush's.
"Had he gotten a second term," Gibson began before correcting himself, "had he been elected president in the first place in the year 2000, and then gotten a second term -- he would be there as the outgoing President of the United States."
Over on NBC, Tom Brokaw merely pointed out how Gore would be an advisor on climate change to the new president, while CBS's Katie Couric enthused about how such high-profile individuals from different parties seem to get along so well at inaugurations.
During Tuesday morning’s inaugural coverage on MSNBC, Chris Matthews twice compared the Bush family to the Romanovs as he contended that the Bushes are now likely to go into hiding because of President Bush’s unpopularity: "It’s going to be like the Romanovs, too, and I mean that. There’s a sense here that they are fallen from grace, that they’re not popular, that the whole family will now go into retreat." Even liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson had to call him out on the exaggeration as it sounds like he says in the background that "it didn’t happen exactly like the Romanovs," referring to the overthrow and execution of the Russian royal family after the Bolshevik communists seized power in 1917.
A few minutes earlier, claiming "this isn’t a partisan statement," Matthews raised the possibility that Obama could give such a good speech that he would join the "oratorical Mount Rushmore" of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy in making memorable inauguration speeches. Matthews: "And it seems like there’s a third opening there for Barack Obama. It’s almost the oratorical Mount Rushmore, that there’s so much open space among those Presidents. And only two stand out. And this isn’t a partisan statement. This is a fact. There’s FDR. There’s JFK. And there may be Barack Obama."
"Don't you hate it when you pop a bottle of champagne and it's flat? So, too, with some of these inaugural balls," Washington Post gossip gals Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts alerted their readers in the January 20 edition of "The Reliable Source."
While none of the official PIC balls have been cancelled, the unofficial ones that have been cancelled or are on life support to be the ones geared towards the average Joe Sixpack and to America's military veterans:
If you nabbed a ticket to one of the official balls sponsored by the Presidential Inaugural Committee tonight, you're fine. But some of the other high-profile parties have been canceled or are still scrambling to cut costs and sell last-minute tickets, leaving ballgoers disappointed or out in the cold.
The People's Ball at the Grand Hyatt announced a blue-light special yesterday: Tickets slashed $100 -- to $250! The American Music Ball, hosted by Dionne Warwick, which planned two big-name events at the Marriott Wardman Park, was scrambling to sell enough tickets ($450 for the Legends ball with George Clinton, Chaka Khan and the Temptations; $350 for the Urban ball with Ludacris, Fantasia, and Cedric the Entertainer) for the show to go on -- and it wasn't looking good last night, said sources.
During live coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration at 9:30AM on Tuesday, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric spoke to historian Douglas Brinkley, who observed: "And it reminds me of Franklin Roosevelt in March of 1933 in this regard, I mean the economy was in tatters, Herbert Hoover was an unpopular president, President Bush is not very popular, and he was able to galvanize people with his speech, FDR, move the nation, you know to have nothing -- you know, to fight for all of the civil rights and to start pushing forward the hundred days of the New Deal. And so you see the echoes of that." On the January 11 Sunday Morning program, Brinkley declared Bush in the "...the very bottom-rung of American Presidents."
Brinkley’s comment was prompted by Couric remarking: "...a confluence of events that will make him perhaps one of the most powerful presidents in history. It's hard to predict an administration and how successful it will be, but he really is starting off things in an enviable position, isn't he?" Later, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer shared his thoughts on that point: "But the interesting thing, Katie, is when we stop and think about it, our greatest presidents have always come to us during the worst of times. If history's any guide, the pieces are in place here for the making of a great president." On Monday’s Early Show, Schieffer compared Obama to Abraham Lincoln.
"Up to this point, there's very much a mirage going on. Barack Obama is what people want him to be. It is not the real thing, yet. He hasn't been tested yet. Once he's tested, then we are going to see the real Barack Obama. I hope he does well," Brent Bozell told the crew of "Fox & Friends" this morning. (audio available here)
The MRC president and NewsBusters publisher braved the cold and heavy inaugural security to appear with FNC's Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade on the roof of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, where he gave some advice to the incoming president, assessed the outgoing chief executive's engagement with the media, and slammed the media for failing to cover President Bush's farewell address.
On the latter:
BRENT BOZELL, MRC President: Let me give you a fascinating statistic. And this is truly, I think, offensive. On Thursday night, George Bush gave his farewell address to the American people. It's the only real public thing he's done.
STEVE DOOCY, "Fox & Friends" co-host: We covered it the next day a lot.
BOZELL: Friday morning, ABC, NBC, CBS, a grand total of 7 hours combined coverage. Guess how much time they gave to George Bush's farewell address, combined? Fifty-eight seconds.
As we prepare to say goodbye to our 43rd President, an important question needs to be asked: will those suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome be cured on Inauguration Day?
As most informed people are aware, BDS was first identified by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer. In his December 5, 2003, Washington Post article, Krauthammer described the malady as "the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency - nay - the very existence of George W. Bush."
Although Krauthammer addressed others in the grips of this pernicious affliction that "generally struck people with previously compromised intellectual immune systems" such as Barbra Streisand, his real concern was for Democrat presidential candidate Howard Dean:
Abandoning any pretense of balance, MSNBC's Inauguration coverage will be quad-anchored by four left-wingers: the network's three night time hosts -- Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow -- plus regular analyst Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. Plugging the team at the end of the 7 PM EST Hardball on Monday night, Matthews trumpeted how “this is one of the great opportunities in journalism to cover history in the face” and declared “it's going to be the honor of our lifetimes.” With a graphic on screen showing pictures of the four and announcing MSNBC's 9:45 AM to 4 PM ET coverage, Matthews trumpeted:
This is one of the great opportunities in journalism to cover history in the face. We're going to see history in the face and when you get up tomorrow morning I recommend you stay tuned all day because I don't think you're going to stop seeing history being made, from the very beginning in the morning. It's going to be our best coverage all day. We're going to end up -- Keith and I and Rachel and Gene Robinson -- it's going to be the honor of our lifetimes to be here on the Washington Mall.
Is there anything President-elect Barack Obama's very aura cannot make better? Apparently, he has eliminated road rage -- and even honking.
ABC's David Muir, over video of stuck traffic followed by the sound of singing, in a Monday World News story on the crowds coming to Washington, DC:
So many of the streets are closed those that are open are clogged. But there were no car horns, no shouting. Instead, the San Francisco Boys and Girls choruses practicing for their Inaugural moment on the steps of the Capitol.
In a 7:43AM commercial break during Monday’s CBS Early Show, the network aired a promo for a new episode of the show ‘Two And A Half Men,’ that used an Obama campaign slogan: "Can CBS show you the funny side of families?...Yes we can." The words appeared on screen in red, white, and blue, soon followed by a flash of the CBS logo in the same colors, looking very similar to Obama’s campaign logo.
At the end of the promo, the screen displayed the cast of the show in red and blue, similar to a famous Obama portrait, with the show title and time. The bottom of the screen declared: "Yes We Can Monday."
Never mind how Barack Obama will magically bring “diversity,” “excellence” and “unity” to America, “Santa Claus” loves the incoming administration. Seconds before 5 PM EST Monday afternoon on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall asked a woman in the crowd around MSNBC's platform on Washington's Mall: “What do you think this next administration brings to the country?” The woman, wearing a Santa Claus hat more than three weeks after Christmas, excitedly replied:
I think they bring diversity. I think they bring a spirit of excellence. I think they bring unity and they bring love. Santa Claus loves them.
You'd think Santa Claus would be jealous of Obama for intruding on his specialty of giving away stuff. But maybe the woman was mixed up and meant to say that Obama is just as great as Santa Claus because she expects to get hand outs from him too.
And the media, 'one of Barack Obama's major constituencies,' don't complain.
The Obama Inauguration Committee sold coverage of inaugural events, effectively limiting the number of Americans who can view them and undercutting Obama’s claims of accessibility, according to Business & Media Institute VP Dan Gainor.
“Barack Obama, in his last radio address before he becomes president says this is going to be the most accessible administration in history,” Gainor said in an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Weekend Live” on Jan. 18. “Well, they’re already proving the lie to that.”
HBO paid $5 million to broadcast Sunday’s concert from the Lincoln Memorial. That meant that only HBO subscribers and the 37 percent of cable customers that have digital cable could watch. The Inauguration committee made a similar arrangement for coverage of a children’s concert scheduled for Monday night. Even C-Span was denied access to the events.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked Sunday Morning liberal commentator Nancy Giles about the incoming Obama Administration and Giles could not resist bashing Bush: "Well, Barack Obama's going to have his hands full with a lot of the carnage that was left by the previous administration." Republican strategist Bay Buchanan was seated next to Giles and Giles defended her statement: "I had to put it that way, Bay. It is carnage." Buchanan joked: "I was told it would cease-fire here for two days." Giles replied: "I know, I'm sorry, carnage just slipped out, but I mean, he's going to have his hands full."
Co-host Harry Smith then chimed in, saying to Giles: "I spent the entire afternoon yesterday talking to people, and there were actually very few people who were echoing the sentiments you were echoing...There were some people who were angry and still carrying grudges. But moreover, it was a sense of for the moment, no more Republicans, no more Democrats, we're all on the same page, at least for a moment."
In contrast to her view of Bush’s "carnage," Giles praised Obama: " Barack Obama said something last year that I heard him say about his definition of homeland security and national security. It had to do with making education a real important thing. He felt that educating our young people would make the nation that much more secure. And I love that way of thinking."
In the run-up to Barack Obama's inauguration, the New York Times has run several articles praising the President-elect's "eloquence," the most visible being Monday's front-page story by the paper's lead book critic (and prominent Bush-basher) Michiko Kakutani, "From Books, New President Found Voice," who praised Obama for...reading:
In college, as he was getting involved in protests against the apartheid government in South Africa, Barack Obama noticed, he has written, "that people had begun to listen to my opinions." Words, the young Mr. Obama realized, had the power "to transform": "with the right words everything could change -- South Africa, the lives of ghetto kids just a few miles away, my own tenuous place in the world."
Much has been made of Mr. Obama's eloquence -- his ability to use words in his speeches to persuade and uplift and inspire. But his appreciation of the magic of language and his ardent love of reading have not only endowed him with a rare ability to communicate his ideas to millions of Americans while contextualizing complex ideas about race and religion, they have also shaped his sense of who he is and his apprehension of the world.
Next time someone dismisses the idea that mass media can exert influence on American culture, point to a Jan. 18 New York Times article titled, "How the Movies Made a President." In that piece, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott argue that fictional depictions of black U.S. presidents helped pave the way for a real one.
“The presidencies of James Earl Jones in ‘The Man,’ Morgan Freeman in ‘Deep Impact,”’ Chris Rock in ‘Head of State’ and Dennis Haysbert in ‘24’ helped us imagine Mr. Obama’s transformative breakthrough before it occurred,” the authors wrote. “In a modest way, they also hastened its arrival.”
Furthermore, Dargis and Scott say that a number of black filmmakers and movie stars have “helped write the prehistory of the Obama presidency.”
If the authors are correct and Hollywood did help lessen the role of race in the electoral equation, then it has performed a service to the nation and is to be commended. The mass media clearly holds tremendous power to influence public attitudes, and did so in this case for the better.
On the eve of becoming the nation's 44th President, Barack Obama went to Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a Washington, D.C., residence for homeless, runaways, and troubled youth, and actually assisted in painting the walls what appeared to be an aqua blue (video embedded right).
Watching the proceedings on various cable news networks, my heart welled with pride as I realized my new president was a much better painter than Winston Churchill.
For those missing the joke, this is what fictional playwright Franz Liebkind told Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom as they discussed producing his "Springtime for Hitler" in the Mel Brooks classic "The Producers":
Imagine for a moment that Sen. John McCain won the election in November and that John Hagee gave a sermon at Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University the Sunday preceding the inauguration wherein he slammed the "egregious menage a trois of homosexuals, Hollywood, and hell-bound atheists" for destroying the United States.
The coverage would be non-stop and President-elect McCain would be pressed to repudiate the remarks from his stalwart evangelical supporter, even though he's already distanced himself during in the campaign.
Yet it's a vastly different story when it was Rev. Jeremiah Wright at Howard University's chapel and the "egregious menage a trois" was that of "racism, militarism and capitalism."
While his colleague Michelle Boorstein helpfully edited Wright's more embarrassing rhetoric (see more below the fold), Washington Post's Dana Milbank reminded readers just how loopy Rev. Wright is in his page A9 January 19 article, "You Thought the Jeremiad Was Over?" (emphasis mine):
People don't even worship God like they worship Barack Obama.
So said comedian Jackie Mason in his most-recent video blog just posted at YouTube.
But that's not all. According to Mason, "Mao Tse Tung wasn't so venerated and people weren't so fearful of disagreeing with him as the Congress of the United States including the Republicans who are afraid to disagree with anything he says or does because they'll be called a racist."
Mason also deliciously went after "a yenta like Hillary Clinton" for being completely unqualified to be Secretary of State, and Timothy Geithner, "a thief that never paid his income taxes [who's] now going to be in charge to make sure you pay your income tax."
Strap your seatbelts tightly, folks, for the video embedded below the fold addresses inconvenient truths Obama-loving media dare not:
Catching up with something from Saturday I just came across, Newsweek's Howard Fineman pointed out on MSNBC just before 6 PM EST, as the Obama-Biden train arrived at Washington, DC's Union Station, that he was reading “the pool reports that have been filed by reporters on the train and they refer to Barack Obama as PEBO, which is short for 'President-elect Barack Obama.'” Fineman felt that illustrated how “there's an intimacy and a familiarity on that train,” presumably between the journalists and Obama, one shared by Fineman who hailed Obama's “many gifts” and saw “a down-home folksiness that belies the tremendous hopes that not only the country, but the whole world, have for him.”
I've been reading the pool reports that have been filed by reporters on the train and they refer to Barack Obama as PEBO, which is short for “President-elect Barack Obama” and there's an intimacy and a familiarity on that train, a down-home folksiness, that belies the tremendous hopes that not only the country, but the whole world, have for him.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer shared his thoughts on Barack Obama’s inauguration and made this comparison: "Well, people just want to be a part of it. It's like who wouldn't want to be a part of it if you could have been there when Lincoln gave one of his addresses or something...People really do feel this is a moment in history. And they want to be part of it."
Earlier, co-host Harry Smith observed: "And there is an amazing feeling here, especially contrast with the feeling of eight years ago." Schieffer agreed: "Yeah, it really was, because don't forget, you had that really difficult thing down in Florida. People were not convinced. Some people were not convinced that George Bush really was legitimately-" Smith interjected: "Still not convinced." Schieffer continued: "-the president. There was a lot of rancor. People had fun, they came up, and -- but nothing like the spirit that you see here...There is a real spirit here. I've never seen anything quite like it."
Smith later declared: "They're here from Canada, California, Colorado, Ohio. They're from all over the country. Every color of the rainbow. And there really is a sense of togetherness, of unity." He then concluded the segment by exclaiming: "It really is that sort of a sense of E. Pluribus Unum, right?...Out of many, one." Schieffer agreed: "It really is."