ABC on Tuesday introduced Barack Obama with an opening that looked and sounded more like a movie trailer for an action film. As dramatic, pounding tones played throughout, an announcer began, "The State of our Union. We heard this, just two years ago."
Then, images of the President, firework-style graphics and people crying appeared onscreen. A clip from 2008 showed Obama proclaiming, "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America."
During the intro, ABC also included a segment often seen on the weekend Good Morning America, montages of people summing up their feelings in three words. This version of "In Three Words" was political. As the triumphant music played, the announcer wondered, "With so much at stake, what do Americans want to hear tonight?" Some of the signs featured: "Health care now," "more city jobs" and "public services matter." There were no Tea Party-esque "cut our taxes" declarations.
This isn't the first time ABC dramatically hyped Obama with booming audio and visuals. On January 20, 2009, the same unnamed announcer extolled at the beginning of that day's GMA: "This morning, a new dawn: Barack Obama sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. A new face from a new generation. Driven by an audacity to hope.”
In comparison, GMA blandly introduced George W. Bush's second inaugural this way: "This is a special edition of 'Good Morning America.' The second inauguration of George W. Bush."
The 2009 version, for a Democratic president, announced, "The nation's capital, filled to capacity. A journey of millions, fueled by hope and the shared dreams of a renewed America."
A transcript of the opening, which aired at 9pm EST on January 25, 2011, follows:
[Triumphant music plays throughout]
ANNOUNCER: The State of our Union. We heard this, just two years ago.
BARACK OBAMA: Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America.
ANNOUNCER: We heard this just two months ago.
OBAMA: I'm not recommending for every future president that they take a shellacking like I did last night.
ANNOUNCER: And we heard this just two weeks ago when tragedy struck.
OBAMA: We should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations!
ANNOUNCER: With so much at stake, what do Americans want to hear tonight? Well, here are what some Americans said to that in three words. And now the question is, what will the President say to unite a country anxious to move beyond bitter debate and to a newly divided Congress looking for ways to unite? From ABC News in our nation's capitol, the State of the Union address and the Republican response. Now reporting, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.