After each of the first three nights of the Democratic convention, network news reporters have offered enthusiastically positive reviews, and Friday morning’s coverage of Barack Obama’s acceptance address made it a clean sweep. CBS Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith, the only morning show host still in Denver, said he felt the earth moving. “This place rumbled....The stadium was just so alive, and the ground was almost quaking,” he told co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez.
Rodriguez voiced pity for John McCain: “Harry, I found myself at one point last night thinking how difficult it must be for John McCain to watch such a huge celebration in honor of his opponent, especially on the eve of his 72nd birthday.”
Over on ABC, George Stephanopoulos asserted that the mere act of speaking in a tough tone of voice “answered questions about whether he was ready to be Commander-in-Chief.” His enthusiastic review of the week: “I don’t think this convention could have gone any better for the Democrats.”
During the Denver convention, the reporters and anchors on the network morning shows offered no liberal labeling of convention speakers (other than "liberal lion" Ted Kennedy) or Democratic policies, and uttered no condemnations of attacks from the podium (although ABC’s Jake Tapper this morning gently suggested Obama’s speech Thursday night “may have struck some as too negative”). It remains to be seen whether these networks will offer similar treatment of the Republicans, but their approach to previous conventions suggests otherwise. (Here -- and here -- are two examples from morning show coverage of the 2004 conventions.)
Here are some key moments from Friday morning’s shows, as transcribed by the MRC’s Justin McCarthy, Kyle Drennen and Scott Whitlock:
# ABC’s George Stephanopoulos offered a solidly positive review, even claiming that Obama’s rhetoric on abortion, gay rights and guns “put down a shield” protecting the Democratic ticket from being “hammered by Republicans.”
ROBIN ROBERTS: And now for “The Bottom Line” joining us also from Denver, our chief Washington correspondent and host of "This Week," George Stephanopoulos. So did Obama do what he needed to do last night, George?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And then some, Robin. I think there's no question about that. Jake outlined a lot of what he did in his speech right there. What he showed over the course of the speech is that he understands the problems that people are going through, that he gets it unlike John McCain. He also was not afraid at all to take on John McCain to take on the Republicans and by doing that, by doing it in such a tough, aggressive manner I think he answered questions about whether he was ready to be commander in chief, at least that was the intention and then he did something towards the end of the speech where he also took the issues where Democrats traditionally get hammered by Republicans, issues like abortion, gay rights and guns and put down a shield, a shield and described those issues in a way that a majority or at least the center of the country would understand, would appreciate so I think he got an awful lot done.
ROBERTS: The bar was set high because of all the speeches we heard throughout the week at the convention, do you feel the Democrats accomplished what they set out to this week?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Absolutely. If you look at -- they came into the convention divided, divided between the Clinton forces and the Obama forces, a lot of bad blood. The combination of Senator Clinton's speech, her moving to nominate Barack Obama and then Bill Clinton's tour de force on Wednesday night brought the Clinton and Obama forces back together. And that's point number one. You saw the combination of Michelle Obama's speech, the video and Barack Obama's speech last night introduced the Obamas to the country, make their story part of the American story and then that laid nicely into the agenda he wants to send for the country, so I don't think this convention could have gone any better for the Democrats than it did now it's on to St. Paul for the Republicans.
# Introducing ABC’s Good Morning America, Robin Roberts emphasized the “rock star concert” quality to Thursday night’s event:
ROBIN ROBERTS: This morning, history.
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: I accept your nomination for presidency of the United States.
ROBERTS: At moments looking more like a star-studded rock concert-
STEVIE WONDER: [singing] I know Barack Obama is going to set this country on fire.
ROBERTS: -than a political convention. Barack Obama blasts his opponent as being out of touch.
OBAMA: It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.
ROBERTS: And he says he's ready to lead.
OBAMA: If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament and judgment to serve as the next commander in chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.
# CBS’s Harry Smith and Maggie Rodriguez were enthusiastic in their review, with Smith talking about how the stadium “rumbled,” observing: “I’m just not so sure I've ever witnessed anything like this in all of the politics that I've covered.”
HARRY SMITH: A moment in American history. More than 80,000 brought to their feet as Barack Obama lays the groundwork for his battle with John McCain....
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Good morning, Harry. What a crescendo last night.
SMITH: Yeah, I'll tell you, I -- we were in Mile-High Stadium, we were there for a long while before the actual speech took place. The -- this is the aftermath, of course, when the families, Joe Biden's family and Michelle and the children were on the stage. But I'm just not so sure I've ever witnessed anything like this in all of the politics that I've covered, which goes back quite a few years already. This place rumbled. And there were certain points during the speech when the stadium was just so alive, and the ground was almost quaking. It was almost like when the Broncos score a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders. It was really quite a night. And we'll analyze Barack Obama's speech. We'll see what he had to say. He's already getting a bounce this week in some of the polls....
RODRIGUEZ: Harry, I found myself at one point last night thinking how difficult it must be for John McCain to watch such a huge celebration in honor of his opponent, especially on the eve of his 72nd birthday....
# In their overviews of Obama’s speech, ABC’s Jake Tapper and NBC’s David Gregory suggested the nominee had gone into great detail about his plans and policies. But CBS’s Bill Plante was less impressed than his colleagues: “He did offer some specifics, but not very many.”
JAKE TAPPER: Criticized in the past for giving speeches long on oratory and short on specifics, Obama mentioned at least 35 specific policy proposals.
BARACK OBAMA: Let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am president. Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.
DAVID GREGORY: Responding to criticism that his call for change lacks specifics, Obama issued a blueprint, cut taxes for 95 percent of working families, break our dependence on Middle Eastern oil in a decade, end the war in Iraq by a date certain. Extend affordable health care to all Americans.
OBAMA: What the naysayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's about you.
BILL PLANTE: Obama promised to spell out exactly what change would mean. And he did offer some specifics, but not very many. His real aim seemed to be to tie John McCain as tightly as possible to George W. Bush, and that, I think, is what you're going to hear as he hits the campaign trail.