At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith set the tone for the show’s coverage of Barack Obama’s upcoming nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic convention: "First, history being made in Denver today." While Obama being the first African-American presidential nominee of a major party is historic, the Early Show went far beyond the other network morning shows, doing three stories on Obama being the first black Democratic nominee, with numerous comparisons to Martin Luther King and the 45th anniversary of King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.
Meanwhile, NBC’s Today made no comparisons between Obama and King. On ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host Robin Roberts made only one brief reference to King’s 1963 speech at the end of a segment on preparations for Obama’s speech at Invesco Field. Speaking to editor-at-large for ‘O’ Magazine, Gayle King, Roberts asked: "And as we stood in the enormous empty stadium I couldn't help but feel the sweeping hand of history. I know my mother said she never thought she'd see this day. How do you feel about being here? We have seen grainy photos of the '60s of historic moments but to now know that we are also going to witness something like this."
In contrast, Thursday’s Early Show included four comparisons of Obama and King. The first reference was in a report by correspondent Bill Plante, the other three references were all by Smith. During a segment in the 7am half hour featuring poet Maya Angelou, he remarked: "Barack Obama was 2 years old when Dr. King shared his dream...Tonight Barack Obama will deliver another speech, loaded with history and promise."
In addition, Smith also did another segment in the 7:30am half hour with Obama convention delegate, Sondra Hollinger Samuels, who burst into tears on Wednesday after Obama officially secured the nomination and who proclaimed: "America was true to its ideals and it voted for the best candidate and it did not pay attention to skin color and I get to see it." Smith asked Samuels: "You work with gangs, with troubled youth in Minnesota. This is part of what your life is about?...When your kids see this, the kids you work with, what does it -- what do you think it'll mean to them?" Samuels replied: "You know, it removes any psychological barrier that might be there...any doubt for him, you know, or her, that they can't do something, becomes completely removed, obliterated." Smith concluded the discussion by asking: "You psyched up?... What do they say on the Barack Obama campaign? Fired up and ready to go."
Finally, in yet a third segment in the 8am half hour, Smith talked to another Obama delegate, Marvin McMickle, who explained: "My uncle was shot to death by the registrars in that county. I'm here to vote for Barack Obama in honor of that member of my family, Edward Doneghy, who died trying to get for himself the right to vote." After McMickle later proclaimed: "We've made history in America here today. And I was here to see it. I was here to share it. I was here to vote in it. I just couldn't be happier," Smith added: "And more history to come tonight from Mile-High Stadium."
Here is the full transcript of the 7:30am segment:
JOHN F. KENNEDY: I am fully aware of the fact that the Democratic Party, by nominating someone of my faith, has taken on what many regard as a new and hazardous risk.
HARRY SMITH: An historic and transformative moment, John F. Kennedy, his acceptance speech at the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, some 48 years ago. And we are back live in Denver for a really big day at Invesco stadium. Our full coverage continues from mile -- the mile-high city here. And welcome back to the Early Show.
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: And Harry, you've been talking about that temple-like setting that they have set up there in Invesco Field. And I want to show you the cover of The New York Post. It says 'O,' for Obama, 'My God.' Completely mocking what they say is an over-the-top worship scene for Barack Obama tonight.
SMITH: Yeah, well there's this whole thing is this going to turn into, like a Democratic tent meeting? And what was the line that the Republicans used as soon as pictures of this came out, they started referring it the 'Temple of Obama.' It was interesting, because we had David Plouffe on the show this morning and he says, 'you know, it's not all that different from a George Bush backdrop from not so many conventions ago. So, we will see about that. More on that in just a minute.
HARRY SMITH: Back here in the -- it was an amazing night, an amazing afternoon at the Pepsi Center. Barack Obama's nomination by acclamation was an emotional moment for many. CBS News national correspondent Byron Pitts spoke to one Minnesota delegate about what it meant for her.
SONDRA HOLLINGER SAMUELS: America was true to its ideals and it voted for the best candidate and it did not pay attention to skin color and I get to see it.
SMITH: Sondra Hollinger Samuels is with us live at Mile High this morning. Good morning.
SAMUELS: Good morning.
SMITH: Bring me back to the emotions of that moment yesterday.
SAMUELS: Oh, wow.
SMITH: Are they still in you now?
SAMUELS: Well, they are, they are. But I kind of cried myself out yesterday, last night. But it was very emotional. And it was -- when it really hit me was when the roll call of the different states. And, so, you know, in my delegation from Minnesota, we had, you know, 88 votes, 78 went to Barack. My father is from Georgia and they had 102 votes and around 88 went to Barack, you know -- 82 went to Barack as well. And Georgia is normally a very red state. And then I'm from-
SMITH: Well, he won the primary there.
SAMUELS: That's right, that's right.
SAMUELS: And then I'm from New Jersey and they -- all of their votes went to-
SMITH: Yeah. How old are you?
SAMUELS: I'm 42.
SMITH: Did you think this would happen in your lifetime?
SAMUELS: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I thought, you know, in fact, two years ago, over a dinner with friends, white friends, African-American friends, we were talking about it. And my white friends thought that it could happen. And we -- and I just said, 'well, you know, you don't get it, you know, clearly.' So, I really was not a believer until Iowa.
SMITH: Yeah. You work with gangs, with troubled youth in Minnesota. This is part of what your life is about?
SMITH: When your kids see this, the kids you work with, what does it -- what do you think it'll mean to them?
SAMUELS: You know, it removes any psychological barrier that might be there. You know? Any doubt for one minute that, you know the little kid on the corner, the ones who are most left behind, you know, there's a segment of our population, any doubt for him, you know, or her, that they can't do something, becomes completely removed, obliterated. And it is so exciting. It has such far-reaching implications.
SMITH: And you already figured out where your seat is.
SAMUELS: Yeah, there's Minnesota.
SMITH: Minnesota's right down there.
SMITH: You psyched up?
SAMUELS: Oh, absolutely.
SMITH: What do they say on the Barack Obama campaign? Fired up and ready to go.
SAMUELS: Fired up and ready to go.
SMITH: Sondra, thanks so much for being here this morning.
SAMUELS: Absolutely. Thank you.
SMITH: Really appreciate it.
Here is the full transcript of the 8am segment:
HARRY SMITH: History in the making. Tonight, Barack Obama claims the leadership of the Democratic Party, the first African-American nominee of a major national ticket.
SMITH: Well, they call it Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium. And this is a live shot this morning. I was talking to some folks here, I worked in this market for a dozen years in radio and television and I used to cover games here all the time. But never an event like the one that is going to happen this evening.
HARRY SMITH: Well, last night's historic nomination of Barack Obama had a special meaning for countless people especially an African-American delegate from Ohio. He is part of our series 'First Eye: Making History.'
MARVIN MCMICKLE: I'm Reverend Marvin McMickle from Cleveland, Ohio. My uncle was shot to death by the registrars in that county. I'm here to vote for Barack Obama in honor of that member of my family, Edward Doneghy, who died trying to get for himself the right to vote. Well, I just voted for Barack Obama.
PETER LAWSON JONES: I think about my grandfather, who was essentially driven from North Carolina after standing up to the sheriff, who was also a Klansman.
PEGGY MCMICKLE: I grew up in the segregated South, the Jim Crow laws and it was -- it's just a special joy for me to see all of this unfold.
MARVIN MCMICKLE: If there had to be a moment in time when you could shatter the assumption of racism and prejudice, why not make it a black man being nominated to be the President of the United States of America? It's a pretty good start.
NANCY PELOSI: Ladies and gentlemen, it's now time for the Democratic National Convention to begin the nomination process
MCMICKLE: Now we're getting ready to cast our votes and we just can't wait to get to it.
HILLARY CLINTON: I move Senator Barack Obama of Illinois be selected by this convention by acclamation as the nominee-
MCMICKLE: Wow. Just a tremendous moment. We've made history in America here today. And I was here to see it. I was here to share it. I was here to vote in it. I just couldn't be happier.
SMITH: And more history to come tonight from Mile-High Stadium.