ABC's Nightline Gushes: Obama, An 'American Political Phenomenon'

November 7th, 2006 3:19 PM

On Monday night’s edition of Nightline, just hours before the polls opened for Tuesday’s midterm election, ABC’s Terry Moran prematurely promoted a potential 2008 Democratic presidential contender. Moran went along with Illinois Senator Barack Obama as he campaigned for Democrats across the country. Moran’s piece was full of praise for the "American political phenomenon," whom, according to Moran, millions see as "the savior of the Democratic Party."

Terry Moran: "You can see it in the crowds. The thrill, the hope. How they surge toward him. You're looking at an American political phenomenon. In state after state, in the furious final days of this crucial campaign, Illinois Senator Barack Obama has been the Democrat's not-so-secret get-out-the-vote weapon. He inspires the party faithful and many others, like no one else on the scene today...And the question you can sense on everyone's mind, as they listen so intently to him, is he the one? Is Barack Obama the man, the black man, who could lead the Democrats back to the White House and maybe even unite the country?"

In a softball question to Senator Obama, Moran asked him about the buzz surrounding his political future:

Moran: "And right now you are on a roll. You're, people,'Obamania,' they, they call it. The rock star. You get a big cheer when you get up there."

Obama: "This has been an interesting ride...You know, I, I'm suspicious of hype and I'm suspicious of our celebrity culture, which, you know, is part of politics. I mean, there's a showmanship aspect to it."

Moran then gushed over Obama’s rise to political stardom:

Moran: "So how did this happen? A 45-year-old senator with less than two years experience in the Congress, anointed by millions as the savior of the Democratic Party."

Obama: "The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states."

Moran: "It was one speech, 17 minutes of unfiltered access to the American people at the 2004 Democratic Convention. Obama, then an obscure state senator, got a huge chance, and he hit it out of the park."

Obama: "But I've got news for them, too, we worship an awesome God in the blue states and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the red states. We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states."

Moran: "It was a national debut like no other in recent history."

As for his presidential ambitions, Moran played up the hype around Obama repeatedly throughout his report:

Moran: "St. Louis, Missouri, this is one of the closest Senate races in the country. Democrat Claire McCaskill needs every vote she can find, and once again, Obama is a huge draw...The crowd is transfixed. You can sense their longing for him to run for president...And everywhere he goes, people want him to run for president, especially in Iowa, cradle of presidential contenders. Around here, they're even naming babies after him."

Obama [holding an infant]: "Well, how are you? This is baby Barack right here. Oh, you're so precious! Yes, you are."

Moran then highlighted concerns that America would be unprepared to deal with a "black, progressive" presidential candidate:

Moran: "Along with the hope, however, there are fears for the emotions that a black, progressive candidate for president might unleash."

[unidentified female]: "I hope we do see him as president one day. But then, with the hatred that still exists in this country, I don't know how long he would live."

Citing Obama’s background, Moran praised the Senator for "bridging divides" and wondered if he brought that sense of unity to his politics:

Moran: "Raised in Hawaii and Indonesia, Obama seems to have found a way to reconcile many of the most painful differences in American culture. It seems, sometimes, that much of your politics is about bridging divides."

Obama: "Right."

Moran: "Republican, Democrat, black, white, red, blue. It's almost as if the bridging of differences you did in your own life--"

Obama: "Yeah."

Moran: "--is something you're bringing to your politics. Is your politics about your biography?"

Finally, while Moran offered no conservative criticism of Obama, he did note Democratic criticism of Obama, for wanting to work with President Bush:

Moran: "Obama's already angered some on the left by insisting that should Democrats take control of Congress tomorrow, they should seek to work with President Bush, rather than try to impeach him or launch investigations into how the Iraq war was started."

The "rock star" label, so often used by the media to describe Obama, continued during Tuesday’s Good Morning America, when reporter Kate Snow, discussing probable 2008 presidential candidates, like Moran, labeled him as such:

Kate Snow: "There are a few wild cards that we’re watching. The former vice president, Al Gore, the rock star Senator Barack Obama, the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, and then all the rest."