Bill Weir, Who Swooned That ‘Seagulls’ Were Awed By Obama, Now Sees ‘History Keeping You Warm’
Four years ago, ABC journalist Bill Weir swooned that “national pride” made the cold of Inauguration Day seem warmer and that even the seagulls were “awed.” On Monday, the reporter was at it again, hyping “history” is “keeping [inauguration-goers] warm.” On Good Morning America, the morning show crew gushed over every detail.
News reader Josh Elliott referred to the First Lady’s new haircut as the “bangs that thrilled the nation…[Obama's] dear wife and the hair.” Later, during live coverage, Weir talked to a 16-year-old in pajamas, visiting Washington for the inauguration.
He wondered, “History is keeping you warm, right?” “Outstanding,” enthused the journalist. World Newsanchor Diane Sawyer liked the line so much she repeated it later: “And I heard you say earlier, Bill, people are counting on history to keep them warm.” [MP3 audio here.]
On January 20, 2009, Weir could barely restrain his excitement over the incoming Democratic administration:
We know that wind can make a cold day feel colder, but can national pride make a freezing day feel warmer? It seems to be the case because regardless of the final crowd number estimates, never have so many people shivered so long with such joy. From above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity…
A transcript of the January 21 exchanges can be found below:
BILL WEIR: Let me give you a taste of what it’s like for people who stayed home. First, you get up before dawn. And then you put on six layers. And you stuff those warmers into your socks. And then you walk out on the mall. And what’s funny is when people see this crowd, they light up. There’s excitement. People literally start dancing. But this is about the part where reality sets in that we have three hours to kill. And we have to sit around. So, we have people getting up card games here. We’re hanging out. And this is Sean Semler [PH]. He’s from the St. Louis area. And we’ve decided to talk to them because of his old glory pajama pants. How are you doing, man?
SEAN SEMLER: Feeling pretty good.
WEIR: Sean turned 16 in December. And that’s his dad and he said he said, “Dad, I want to spend my 16th trip going to see the inauguration.” Any regrets thus far?
SEMLER: Not at all. Not at all. We got a little bit of sleep, but that’s enough.
WEIR: Yeah. History is keeping you warm, right?
WEIR: Outstanding. All right. Let’s go back to George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Bill, I love watching you on Inauguration Day!
DIANE SAWYER: Welcome back to the second inauguration of the 44th president of the United States. We’re going to go, now, to Bill Weir, who is out in the center of the mall. And I heard you say earlier, Bill, people are counting on history to keep them warm.
BILL WEIR: Absolutely. And community, a sense of national pride, on days like this. Do you ever get the feeling that there’s people behind you, watching you? Watch this. Look at the power. Look at the power. [Motions to the people behind him.] Happy MLK day, people. Look at this. We got Alabama, Mississippi represented, California, Texas, Oklahoma, good to see you. Good morning. How are you? It’s warming up, right? It feels pretty good. Here’s the view. So, we are just on the capitol side of Seventh Street, which is about the halfway point. It’s starting to get dense. We were saying earlier, four years ago, I was back, way back by the Washington monument. That was 1.8 million people. They’re thinking at least half that year.
“Analysts on the left and the right are calling President Obama’s second inaugural address the most liberal speech he has delivered in office,” FNC’s Bret Baier announced at the top of Monday’s Special Report. Those on the left and right may, but that didn’t include the reporters on the ABC and CBS evening newscasts who scrupulous avoided applying a liberal description to Obama’s address.
On ABC’s World News, Bill Weir innocuously cited how Obana’s speech delivered “a theme of moving forward together,” before George Stephanopoulos asserted: “What you saw today, is the President gave a meditation on freedom and equality, was a President who also felt free.”
Over on the CBS Evening News, Major Garrett also avoided a liberal label, summarizing: “President Obama knows the debate over deficit reduction and entitlement programs, like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, is straight ahead. Mr. Obama used today’s speech to tell skeptical Republicans that these three pillars of the Great Society must remain.”
Later Bob Schieffer acknowledged who would applaud Obama’s content: “I think the left will like it a lot. The people on the right, not so much.”
Those on the NBC Nightly News couldn’t bring themselves to use the “liberal” term, but hinted at Obama’s liberal direction. David Gregory euphemistically hailed Obama’s “robust defense of a progressive vision of what government ought to do.” Chuck Todd soon added: “The President basically declaring ideological victory. Saying, hey, the country made a choice. We’re moving not center right, but center left, with progressive priorities here.”
Others in the NBC News empire weren’t so obtuse. “I think this was a forthrightly liberal speech,” declared Joy Reid, of NBC’s The Grio.com, on MSNBC’s Hardball where host Chris Matthews called it “very liberal on immigration.”
(In a second Hardball on 7 PM EST, Matthews trumpeted Obama as “Lincolnesque,” proposing: “I thought it was Lincolnesque for the reason that Gary Wills once said about the Gettysburg address. That in that address, when the President said at that time, ‘four score and seven years ago,’ he wasn’t going back to the Constitution, which is rather dry, although important, but to the Declaration, which was truly inspiring as our founding document.”)
– Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.
Barack Obama’s second inaugural met with much praise from the journalists at ABC. World News anchor Diane Sawyer hyped the President’s mentions of gays as a recognition of the “modern American family.” Jon Karl touted the “Democratic Reagan.”
After Stephanopoulos asserted that Obama made the “first explicit mention…in an inaugural of gay Americans,” Sawyer seemingly worked in a subtle plug for her network’s primetime line-up: “He is talking about a modern American family. He’s talking about gay and straight, rich and poor, everyone together.” Stephanopoulos made the speech all about Obama: “The President, perhaps thinking of himself as he said ‘Americans are made for this moment and we will seize it.’ You could almost hear him talking to himself in that moment.” [MP3 audio here.]
Karl proclaimed, “I felt during much of that speech like I was listening to a Democratic Ronald Reagan where Reagan was unapologetically conservative, this was unapologetically progressive.”
It was left to Matt Dowd, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush (as well as Democrats) to add the slightest hint of criticism. He could only manage:
MATT DOWD: I don’t think– I think this was a great speech for today. I don’t think this is a speech that’s going to last the ages and if there’s ever an Obama memorial, I don’t think this speech will be carved into that memorial.
Although, Stephanopoulos, the former Democratic operative, may have hinted at disappointment. Immediately after the speech ended, he noted, “The music was the star of the morning so far.”
A partial transcript of some of the reaction is below:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The music was the star of the morning so far. The President, also, giving a very different speech from four years ago. Four years ago he had a stern, somewhat dark speech for a dark time. This morning, much more optimistic, much more hopeful as I said earlier, a meditation on the Declaration of Independence and you could feel the President almost letting loose in his speech. The first explicit mention ever, I believe, in an inaugural of gay Americans, in the inaugural address.
DIANE SAWYER: He is talking about a modern American family. He’s talking about gay and straight, rich and poor, everyone together. Encapsulated, in a way, in the poet, the Cuban immigrant poet who talked about the mother who rang up the cash register, the father who actually harvested sugar cane. Hispanic, black, white, and he said, over and over again our time. It’s our time.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The President, perhaps thinking of himself as he said “Americans are made for this moment and we will seize it.” You could almost hear him talking to himself in that moment. Let me bring in Matthew Dowd, as well. You also heard again and again and again from the President the word “together.”
MATT DOWD: Yeah, we heard “we.” We heard “our.” We heard “shared values” and I think he really tried to capture the unity of this. I don’t think– I think this was a great speech for today. I don’t think this is a speech that’s going to last the ages and if there’s ever an Obama memorial, I don’t think this speech will be carved into that memorial. But what I was struck most by is how much he leaned into things. He didn’t say gay marriage but leaned into it, didn’t say immigration reform but leaned way into it and didn’t say equal pay for women but certainly leaned way into it and I think he’s prepared himself with this speech to say, listen, we’re all a country, in this together but we’ll have fights among some important things.
JON KARL: George, I felt during much of that speech like I was listening to a Democratic Ronald Reagan where Reagan was unapologetically conservative, this was unapologetically progressive, saying we must act collectively. And this was also boundless optimism. I mean, saying “America’s possibilities are limitless.” This was an effort, I believe, at that kind of optimistic progressivism whereas a Reagan whereas Reagan was your optimistic conservatism.
– Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd spoke in such illustrious language about the ”brilliant” president and his “super-brain” that she even bowled over Obama fan Mika Brzezinski who exclaimed: “Now that’s love!”
Appearing on the Monday edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Dowd predicted that “five years from now” theMorning Joe crew will be gushing about Obama’s “brilliant political memoir” but then lamented that they would look back and ask: “Why couldn’t he have applied that super-brain to Washington and gotten it to work better?”
The following is the relevant exchange as it was aired on the January 21 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:
MIKE BARNICLE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You keep hearing from, from people around the President, tou know much of what you hear, except with the caveat, “It is not in his nature to make a deal.” You know it’s just not in his nature. He walks right up to the edge but can’t you know – Lyndon Johnson three o’clock in the morning calls someone saying, “You know you’re not gonna get anything in your state or your district unless you’re with me.”
MAUREEN DOWD, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Right.
BARNICLE: Can’t do that.
DOWD: Well it’s interesting because I can visualize, on this show, in about five years from now, you guys are going to be here and you’re going to be discussing Obama’s memoir, which he will have written, and it’s going to be the most brilliant political memoir outside of Ulysses Grant and Joe, you’re going to be saying-
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Now that’s love!
DOWD: Yeah. And you’re-
DOWD: You’re going be saying, “We still don’t, we’re still trying to figure out who this guy is. And, and he has these amazing insights. Why couldn’t he have applied that super-brain to Washington and gotten it to work better?”
When we were at this brunch at the White House there were top-donors and there was a San Francisco tech guy who was saying he had told Obama “less here [Dowd points to her head] more here [points to heart].” You know? And I think that’s the yearning you feel from people around him. Just stand up and do what’s in your heart.
– Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.
In an exchange with former Secretary of State and prominent Obama supporter Colin Powell during NBC’s live inauguration coverage on Monday, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams urged Powell to go after Republicans: “General, there’s just flat-out hatred out there, too. There’s nastiness out there in the land. There’s nastiness between these two parties….Let’s especially go to the Republican Party….What do they do to widen, if it is in their interest, widen their doorway to membership, to entry?” [Listen to the audio]
Powell seized the opportunity to double down on his recent smear of the GOP having a “dark vein of intolerance”: “I’ve been saying and said with David Gregory the other day, the party is not where the American people have been in recent years….Society is changing and the Republican Party has not been keeping up with it. And if you dare to say that, then you’re violating the orthodoxy of the party and you find yourself attacked….If doesn’t want to change, it can stay where it is, and I think it will continue to lose elections.”
Williams allowed Powell to portray himself as a victim of GOP attacks but failed to press him on his assertion in that Meet the Press interview that Republicans “look down on minorities.”
Here is a transcript of the January 21 exchange:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: We’re joined by a friend of ours out here, another friend of ours, General Colin Powell is with us. What do you make of today’s pomp and ceremony and what I always say this nation does very well?
COLIN POWELL: I love it. I love it. I mean, it’s one of those days, as all inauguration days are, where for a moment we come together, celebrate the magic of our Democratic system, the magic of the people deciding who the next leader is going to be. As Peggy [Noonan] just said, he won, and he won rather decisively this time.
But now the challenges are before him. Tomorrow we’ll be right back at it. And you mentioned the vitriol within our system. We’ve always had, you know, strong views opposing one another. Our Founding Fathers did. And I think that’s good. That’s what democracy is all about. But ultimately, those strong views have to result in compromise or else we don’t get anywhere. And so I hope beginning tomorrow we’ll see a new level of civility within our discussion, within our political discussion, and a willingness to compromise. I noticed just in the last few days, the Republicans have made some offers with respect to the debt ceiling and I’ve seen some Republicans talking about immigration reform. So maybe we are on a roll. But I wouldn’t bet on it yet.
WILLIAMS: I, too, noticed those offers on things like the debt ceiling. But, General, what you’ve
– there’s the real first couple of New York and Washington, D.C., Beyonce and Jay-Z entering. That will get a lot of attention. We just missed James Taylor coming down the stairs – General, there’s just flat-out hatred out there, too. There’s nastiness out there in the land. There’s nastiness between these two parties – there’s the President and Mrs. Carter – And how do we fix that? Let’s especially go to the Republican Party. They’ve got – they’ve been – they’ve been caucusing. They’ve been quite literally in retreat these past few days, House Republicans. What do they do to widen, if it is in their interest, widen their doorway to membership, to entry?
POWELL: Well, as I’ve been saying and said with David Gregory the other day, the party is not where the American people have been in recent years. When you lose an election and you only have 26% favorability rating and 46 or 47% negative, you better start thinking about what’s wrong.
So for the last week, a number of folks of have been attacking me for speaking like this. And my question has been to them, “Well, why should anyone who voted for Mitt Romney, why didn’t they? Why didn’t he win?” And the answer is the party has not kept track with the demographic changes that are taking place in this country. 74% of Hispanics, 74% or 73, one of those numbers, of Asian Americans, and 94% of African Americans, did not vote for the Republican ticket. I would worry about that because we’re becoming a minority-majority nation.
And so I think the party has to take a look at itself and see if it’s keeping up with the demographic changes in our society as well as the societal changes. Society is changing and the Republican Party has not been keeping up with it. And if you dare to say that, then you’re violating the orthodoxy of the party and you find yourself attacked. A lot of Republicans have come up to me in the last week and said, “We agree with you,” but they’re not going to say anything because they don’t want to give a sound bite that will be used against them in 2014 or 2016. But I sense that the American people understand this and most of the Republicans that I know understand that the party has to take a look at itself. If doesn’t want to change, it can stay where it is, and I think it will continue to lose elections.
A panel discussion on Monday’s NBC Today on President Obama’s second term quickly devolved into anti-Republican ranting, with correspondent Andrea Mitchell proclaiming: “It’s been so toxic that I think the President is betting that the American people…are really fed up with this. And that it will be in the Republican Party’s advantage to play somewhat toward getting something done.” [Listen to the audio]
Special correspondent Tom Brokaw followed up by touting how the GOP “lost big time” in the 2012 election and declared: “Now the Republicans are in disarray, trying to organize their party so they have a future. And they’re going to have to deal with the reality of that as well. It is a party that is so broken into a lot of parts on the GOP side and there’s going to have to be a lot of mending done and then more outreach as well.”
A short time later, in the 8 a.m. et hour, New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor eagerly told co-host Savannah Guthrie how Obama plans to go after the GOP in a second term: “The mystery that hung over the first inauguration is gone. We know exactly what he wants to do agenda-wise. And he’s also much – I love this word – ‘bloodier minded,’ somebody said to me, about beating Republicans.”
Later in the 8 o’clock hour, in an impromptu exchange with Republican strategist Frank Luntz, Mitchell grilled: “Four years ago, Frank, you helped lead a group of Republicans who were strategizing, including Cantor and McCarthy and all the House leaders, strategizing on how to stop Barack Obama from achieving his goals. Was that a signal of the obstructionism and the partisanship that we experienced?”
The coverage omitted any discussion of the President’s role in the “toxic” atmosphere in Washington in his first term.
Here is a full transcript of the January 21 panel discussion:
MATT LAUER: Andrea [Mitchell] thank you very much. Joined by a couple of familiar faces in David Gregory and Tom Brokaw as well. Guys, welcome to all of you.
DAVID GREGORY: Good morning.
LAUER: There’s a saying that the job of the President in the first term is to get a second term. So that’s been mission accomplished now. In your opinion, David, how high will this President set his goals for the second term? How high should he?
DAVID GREGORY: Well, I think the key is economic restoration, he comes into office amid financial ruin in the country. I think he understands the public wants to get back to work, wants the country to grow again economically. I think everything flows from that. I think that’s what we start to hear today, and that’s really the mission of – it’s four years, but it’s really much less than that, when you think about that.
LAUER: It starts with that, it starts with the fiscal responsibility, debts and spending. It goes to gun control, it goes to immigration, perhaps some action on climate control. That’s a very big wish list. What are the chances that he gets a little piece of all of that?
TOM BROKAW: Well, I don’t know whether he will get a piece of all of that. I think what we’ll know more at the end of the day is, after his inaugural speech, my guess is, based on what I’ve been told, we’ll hear a little more prose than poetry and a lot of it will be addressed to the middle class, because they are the forgotten part of the American economy in the eyes of a lot of Democrats especially. My guess is that the big theme for him in the second term, Matt, is going to be big ideas that unite the country, not the small ideas that have divided us for the past several of years. And as David is right, you’ve got to restore the economy and then everything flows from that.
LAUER: You talk about big ideas that unite the country. And last night – I was saying in the open of this show, Andrea and David and Tom jump in here – that they were playing the 2009 inaugural address. And when he talked about the things, like saying, “On this day we put aside petty politics. On this day we put aside the politics of division. We show the people of this country that their government works for them.” And yet over these last four years we’ve seen time and time again those things are firmly entrenched here.
ANDREA MITCHELL: It’s been so toxic that I think the President is betting that the American people, clear in our polls, the people are really fed up with this. And that it will be in the Republican Party’s advantage to play somewhat toward getting something done. You saw that in Williamsburg, Virginia, with the House caucus last week when Paul Ryan steered the party, and the more radical elements of the Tea Party which supported him, to some sort of compromise, short-term, at least, on the debt ceiling. They know they need to-
LAUER: Was it compromise or just a strategy to move a bigger fight down the road?
BROKAW: Well, I think it’s an indication, I think it’s a tell-tale sign about where the Republicans are. Four years ago, when the President was making that speech, Republicans were meeting at night.
BROKAW: Trying to decide how they were going to defeat him when he runs for re-election. They lost that, big time. He had a very robust electoral victory and a significant popular vote victory. Now the Republicans are in disarray, trying to organize their party so they have a future. And they’re going to have to deal with the reality of that as well. It is a party that is so broken into a lot of parts on the GOP side and there’s going to have to be a lot of mending done and then more outreach as well.
GREGORY: A couple of key areas. This is a President who’s focused on energy independence. People close to him say that could be an unlikely bipartisan legacy for President Obama. And health care, party-line vote, divided the country. Implementation’s going to be tough, it’s something he’s going to have to spend a lot of time on to show results.
LAUER: Wasn’t it seen, though, that immigration was an area where he might have the best chance of success?
GREGORY: And I still think that’s the case.
LAUER: Probably is true?
MITCHELL: I think that is something that the Republicans know they need to focus on. Guns are going to be tough, but I think the President also feels that on issues like this, he now can take some chances, even if it’s not politically popular, and it’s not. He’s going for the long ball as well.
LAUER: I know you’ve got a lot to talk about, let’s save a little of it because you’re going to be with us throughout the entire day.
BROKAW: Oh my, I had no idea.
LAUER: That’s true, they didn’t tell you? You gotta start reading your e-mails.
BROKAW: I told you everything I know.
LAUER: Tom Brokaw, David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell. Folks, always good to spend time with you.
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, who now spends much of his Morning Joe program trashing the Republican Party and various conservatives, used the inauguration of Barack Obama as another chance to slime the National Rifle Association.
The former Republican Congressman sneered at the National Rifle Association, suggesting that the gun group is promoting the “big lie” that government will come after most guns.
Scarborough insisted the “the big lie has worked for years.” He added, “…If they take away your military-style assault weapons, take away the AR-15, they’re going to take your hunting rifle, they’re gonna take your handgun, which of course is a big lie.”
The phrase “the big lie” has a long history and was first used by Adolf Hitler in 1925.
Scarborough sounded just like his liberal co-host Mika Brzezinski. Regarding a shooting on Sunday, she snarled, “A guy shot his family with an assault rifle. But, you know, that’s all right to these people, I guess.”
Monday’s Morning Joe was broadcast live from a bar in Washington D.C. Later in the program, Bill Karins sat down with children. Eight-year-old Julia insisted she wanted Obama to “take away the guns from other people because for a girl like me, it kind of scares me if I got killed.”
Karins praised, “You’re a very intelligent young lady.”
On January 11, Scarborough maligned the motives of the NRA, sneering, “Do you know how much money these people have made over the slaughter of 20 innocents in Newtown?”
Given Scarborough’s recent comments, it’s bewildering that he still calls himself a “really conservative guy.”
A transcript of the two exchanges is below:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: The answer is the big lie has worked for years. The NRA has said for years, well, you know, if they take away your military-style assault weapons, take away the AR-15, they’re going to take your hunting rifle, they’re gonna take your handgun, which of course is a big lie. I mean, it’s a big lie because constitutionally the government can’t do that. The Supreme Court made sure of that. But, you know, we had a shooting yesterday, an AR-15 out in Albuquerque.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I think it’s six people, including children. I guess we just don’t want to talk about it.
SCARBOROUGH: Three children, blown away.
BRZEZINSKI: A guy shot his family with an assault rifle. But, you know, that’s all right to these people, I guess. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to– you know what? We have to have a tough conversation.
BILL KARINS: Welcome back to “Morning Joe” live from The Dubliner. I searched the entire bar for the three most intelligent people to ask them their opinion on the issues. Let me introduce you to Julia. Hi, Julia. These are your two twin brothers here. This is Degwyn and Connor. Conor, what are you looking forward to the most today?
CONOR: Sleep. I woke up at 4:00 in the morning to come here.
KARINS: And this is the highlight of your day?
KARINS: You’re not supposed to say that. (To Degwyn) Alright, buddy. What do you want the president to work on the most in the next four years?
DEGWYN: Probably just trying to push harder to make everything fair.
KARINS: Like improve your Mets? You want the Mets to be better, right?
DEGWYN: Hopefully, yeah.
KARINS: Yeah, that’s one of the big goals. (To Julia) And what about you?
JULIA: I want him to take away the guns from other people because for a girl like me, it kind of scares me if I got killed.
KARINS: Of course. We wouldn’t want anything to happen to you. How old are you?
KARINS: You’re a very intelligent young lady. Thank you very much.
– Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.
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