NBC Churns Out Full Story with Soft Piano Music Looking at Obama's Year in Photos

Closing out 2015 on the Thursday morning newscasts, NBC’s Today churned one of its most fawning pieces on President Obama as NBC News correspondent Ron Allen reviewed Obama’s top photos by White House photographer Pete Souza while hushed, soft piano music played in the background. 

Fill-in social media correspondent Sheinelle Jones introduced Allen’s piece by gushing that “[i]f a picture is worth a thousand words, White House photographer turns out about two million words a day, capturing pivotal events in history and more personal moments.”

Allen gushed of the “unique” look “behind the scenes” that Souza has in capturing “close-up images of a President many never have seen publicly until now” whether it’s “[s]erious matters inside the White House” or Obama holding “an aide's twin sons, Mom wiping a tear.”

Allen explained that Souza’s “mission” is “to document history,” including “President Obama and the First Family greeting Pope Francis, a handshake with Cuba's Castro, a big smile after the Iran nuclear deal, [and] Mr. President there for Vice President Biden at his son's funeral.”

Discussing with Souza a photo of the President laying on the floor of the Oval Office as he held adviser Ben Rhodes’s daughter (who’s sporting an elephant costume before a Halloween party), Allen asked Souza if he’s “ever seen a President lying on the floor in the Oval Office before with a kid in an elephant suit.”

Jones returned after Allen’s taped report ended to tout Souza’s top three Instagram posts of the year with number two being the White House lit up in rainbow colors after the gay marriage ruling from the Supreme Court on June 26. 

Co-host Savannah Guthrie and fill-in co-host Craig Mevlin spent the time remaining fawning over how “amazing” and “fantastic” of a “job Pete Souza does” in capturing the President at nearly every turn.

Over on CBS This Morning, fill-in co-host and WCBS anchor Kristine Johnson devoted an extended, 53-second brief to photos of the President “walking through the Rose Garden in April on his way to sign a bill into law” and a three-picture sequence that “show[ed] the President as an aide interrupts a brief to tell him the Supreme Court upheld ObamaCare” with his reaction.

On Wednesday’s evening newscasts, the CBS Evening News devoted 24 seconds to Souza’s year-end gallery while NBC Nightly News similarly marked off 21 seconds for this gushy topic concerning their beloved Obama.

The relevant portions of the transcript from NBC’s Today on December 31 can be found below.

NBC’s Today
December 31, 2015
7:48 a.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: #OrangeRoom; Presidential Photos; A Year in Pictures from the White House]

SHEINELLE JONES: If a pictures is worth a thousand words, White House photographer turns out about two million words a day, capturing pivotal events in history and more personal moments. Here's NBC's Ron Allen. 

RON ALLEN: They are unique behind the scenes, close-up images of a President. Many never have seen publicly until now. Serious matters inside the White House. A First Daughter drops by the Oval Office to see her dad. The President with a aide's twin sons, Mom wiping a tear. The year end gallery of White House photographer Pete Souza, there with Mr. Obama day in and day out from the start, giving NBC News an exclusive first look. 

PETE SOUZA: I probably take between 500 and 2,000 a day, probably about a quarter million a year, somewhere in that — 

ALLEN [TO SOUZA]: Over seven years. So, we're talking —

SOUZA: Over seven years, so we’re talking — yeah, a lot of pictures. 

ALLEN: Part of his mission? To document history. President Obama and the First Family greeting Pope Francis, a handshake with Cuba's Castro, a big smile after the Iran nuclear deal, Mr. President there for Vice President Biden at his son's funeral. 

SOUZA: He is the President of the United States, but he's also a human being. I try to show his personality as best I can. There's obviously a lot of pictures with little kids in my year end gallery. He loves babies. 

ALLEN: That's Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes daughter Ella before the party. [TO SOUZA] Have you ever seen a President lying on the floor in the Oval Office before with a kid in an elephant suit?

SOUZA: Oh, well, definitely not. Definitely not.

ALLEN: The gallery reveals the Obama administration's wide open policy door for staff children. 

SOUZA: And a lot of them are children of working moms, and he knows what a sacrifice they make, in terms of, you know, being at work a lot. 

ALLEN: This gallery has 111 pictures. What's Souza’s favorite? 

SOUZA: It'll hopefully be the one I make later today or tomorrow. That's what keeps you going. You're trying to get a good picture tomorrow. 

ALLEN: Ron Allen, NBC News, with the President in Honolulu. 

JONES: 2,000 pictures a day. Pete Souza is active on Instagram, giving a behind the scenes look of the White House all throughout the year. His third-most liked photo of 2015 was of the President with a baby in a mini Pope mobile. Look at this one, number two, was the White House lit up in the colors of the rainbow to celebrate the ruling on same-sex marriage and his most liked Instagram of the year? The president with Ella in the Oval Office. You can certainly vote for your favorite from the White House Year in Photos at today.com. Guys, 2,000 photos a day? 

MELVIN: It’s amazing.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: It’s amazing.

MELVING: What a fantastic job Pete Souza does. 

GUTHRIE: It's amazing. He's so professional. He comes in, takes the picture real quick and is out. Can you imagine the stories he has to tell, not that he'd tell them, but you know, he's seen it all. It’s the best. Thank you, Sheinelle. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center