FLASHBACK: Media Gushed Over Obama’s First 100 Days

In sharp contrast to the relentlessly hostile coverage President Trump has faced, eight years ago the liberal media celebrated and adored President Barack Obama during his first 100 days in office. From day one when CBS’s Harry Smith called the 2009 inauguration “this most sacred event,” the early days of the Obama presidency were met with a flood of positive media coverage.

On February 20, 2009, ABC Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran made the astounding statement to Media Bistro’s Steve Krakauer that, “I like to say that, in some ways, Barack Obama is the first President since George Washington to be taking a step down into the Oval office.”

“He is the new us!” Chris Matthews declared on MSNBC’s Hardball on March 31, 2009. “We’ve got Barack Obama as our President and Michelle Obama as our First Lady. We’re all immensely proud.”

Journalists apparently couldn’t fathom the idea that anyone would want to oppose Obama’s political agenda. On February 24, 2009, then-CBS Evening News host Katie Couric badgered then-Speaker of the House John Boehner, “Do you think the Republicans are digging themselves in a hole by not being more supportive of the President’s proposals?”

The media enthusiastically promoted Obama’s policy proposals. When President Obama introduced his health care plan, ABC’s Dr. Tim Johnson was ecstatic on March 5, 2009’s edition of ABC World News: “I have to tell you, Charlie, I was blown away by President Obama’s grasp of the subject, how he connected the dots, how he answered the questions without any script.”

Michelle Obama was also met with a flurry of positive coverage, something Melania Trump has had to live without. After comparing the Obamas to the Kennedys, correspondent Elizabeth Palmer said on CBS’s The Early Show on March 31, 2009 that “there’s no doubt Michelle and her husband have an extra je ne sais quoi.” NBC’s Keith Miller followed suit the next day on NBC Today, “What the Obamas bring to Buckingham Palace is a charisma not seen since the Kennedys, when the First Lady, Jacqueline, dazzled the royal court.”

“There’s no denying that Michelle Obama is a rock star in America,” CNN’s Alina Cho beamed on April 1’s American Morning.

<<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>

For a flavor of how journalists have been reacting to President Trump's first 100 days, see:

Donald Trump Is Driving the Media Nuts

http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/geoffrey-dickens/2017/02/20/donald-trump-driving-media-nuts

Media Are Terrified By Trump

http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/geoffrey-dickens/2017/03/13/media-terrified-trump

Media’s March Madness Over Trump and GOP Congress

http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/geoffrey-dickens/2017/03/31/medias-march-madness-over-trump-and-gop-congress

 

There’s no shortage of examples of the media promoting President Obama. Here are just a few of the most egregious:

“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.”
ABC’s Bill Weir on World News, January 20, 2009.

“Brains are in the ascendancy now, absolutely. They’re such a brainy Cabinet.”
Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth during NBC’s live coverage, January 20, 2009.

NBC’s Al Roker: “You know, Brian, I gotta tell ya, it was a very emotional trip....I had tears in my eyes....”

Anchor Brian Williams: “Al, I’d love to tell you that I have no idea what you’re talking about, that everybody here kept their emotions thoroughly in check during the ceremony, but I’d be lying to you, my friend.”

— Exchange during NBC’s live coverage January 20, 2009 following Obama’s swearing-in.

“It was a giant love fest....When Barack Obama started to speak, I was right in the middle of the crowd. People were crying, they were laughing, they were cheering. Suddenly someone would just come up and hug you. It was just amazing. It was like you’re standing in the middle of these strangers, and all of a sudden you had a million friends around you. That’s what it felt like yesterday.”

— CNN’s Carol Costello on the January 21, 2009 American Morning, recounting her experience at Obama’s inauguration.

“One of the sacraments of our national religion is the inauguration....So it was that as many as 2 million pilgrims made their way to Washington and the Mall to witness this most sacred event.”
— CBS’s Harry Smith recounting how he experienced Obama’s inauguration, January 21, 2009 The Early Show.

“For a public event, it was absolutely stunning. People with tears in their eyes, Dave, people lining up, and this is something I just can’t wrap my arms around, to buy merchandise with any depiction — this is a guy we just elected President. It’s not a rock star or an athlete or an actor. This is our President. To see people, whatever your politics, that excited about our new chief executive after a line of what the ordinary voter would maybe describe as bad choices or choices of evils, for years, generations, it is unbelievable to me.”
— NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on CBS’s Late Show, January 26, 2009.

“The scene I will always remember was the look on Barack Obama’s face when he came out on the Capitol steps and looked out on that great crowd that stretched over a mile before him....With the severity of the problems he faced, no human, no matter how confident, it seems to me, could look out on that crowd and not wonder: ‘Can I live up to the expectations of all those people?’ Yet, in the three days since then, he has laid out an ambitious program, promises of more transparency in government, new walls between the government and special interests by executive order. He will close Guantanamo prison and outlaw torture. He has told the world that we will practice what we preach.”
— CBS’s Bob Schieffer on President Obama’s first three days in office, January 23, 2009 Evening News.

George Stephanopoulos: “This first week was disciplined and strategic like that campaign, all designed to show that the President is moving on all fronts to bring change....Signs those executive orders for sweeping change to open government....Sweeping change in foreign policy....Working on the economy, but also with bipartisan congressional leadership, the President showing that he wants to change the tone in Washington.
Fill-in anchor Diane Sawyer: “Change the tone and change it at warp speed.”
— ABC’s World News, January 23, 2009.

“The President showed his analytical mind....He was at his best intellectually. I thought it was a great example of how his mind works....What a mind he has, and I love his ability to do it on television. I love to think with him.”

— MSNBC’s Chris Matthews during live coverage following Obama's February 9, 2009 press conference.

Anchor Anderson Cooper: “What do you think this President’s staff is saying to him tonight? What would you say to him tonight after this press conference?”
Senior political analyst David Gergen: “Well done. Pour it on....I thought it was a classic and shrewd exercise of presidential power.”
— Exchange on CNN following Obama’s press conference, February 9, 2009.

“I like to say that, in some ways, Barack Obama is the first President since George Washington to be taking a step down into the Oval Office. I mean, from visionary leader of a giant movement, now he’s got an executive position that he has to perform in, in a way.”
— ABC Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran to Media Bistro’s Steve Krakauer in a February 20, 2009 “Morning Media Menu” podcast. 

 “A recent CBS News poll shows that 53 percent of the American people fully backs the stimulus package, 63 percent of people we polled thought the Republican opposition to the stimulus package was for political reasons. So, are you out of touch with the American people?...Do you think the Republicans are digging themselves in a hole by not being more supportive of the President’s proposals?”
— CBS’s Katie Couric interviewing Republican House Leader John Boehner on the February 24, 2009 Evening News.

“[President Obama] came right out of the box and said, ‘make no mistake about it, we are going to recover.’ That’s the most important thing he wanted the country to hear last night. He began on hope. He ended on hope. Now, in between, there’s a lot of hard things to be done....But I think he made a start at inspiring hope out in the country.”
— ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America, February 25, 2009.

“It was his debut and he wowed us. That’s the running headline from last night’s presidential address to Congress.”
— MSNBC’s Chris Matthews opening Hardball, February 25, 2009.

“It made me feel pretty good. I thought it was a great speech....You know, a friend of mine said, ‘Oh my God, we have a President again!’ Now, in some ways, that’s not fair to Bush, but that’s the way you felt. You felt this was a guy who was totally in charge.”
— NPR’s Nina Totenberg discussing President Obama’s address to Congress, February 27, 2009 Inside Washington.

Anchor Charles Gibson: “Our medical editor, Dr. Tim Johnson, was one of those attending today’s White House health care forum....”
Dr. Tim Johnson: “I have to tell you, Charlie, I was blown away by President Obama’s grasp of the subject, how he connected the dots, how he answered the questions without any script.”
— ABC’s World News, March 5, 2009.

“In 1961, when Jacqueline Kennedy came to Europe, she enchanted even the crustiest of world leaders, and she’s remained a tough act to follow for every First Lady since. But Michelle Obama looks more than equal to the task of impressing and delighting even the grandest of them....To be honest, most Europeans were going to like whoever replaced President Bush. But there’s no doubt Michelle and her husband have an extra je ne sais quoi.”
— CBS’s Elizabeth Palmer on The Early Show, March 31, 2009.

“He is the new us! That’s right, President Obama is in London tonight as the new emblem of the American people. He is us, just as — to the consternation of our allies and the often cringey-ness of his countrymen — George W. Bush was us for eight years....We’ve got Barack Obama as our President and Michelle Obama as our First Lady. We’re all immensely proud....I thought about that scene for months, the first time they get to come as our American couple — to represent us, really in a new way, a kind of a sophisticated new leadership.”
— MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Hardball, March 31, 2009.

“From the moment the Obamas landed in Britain, hand in hand, many here were already star-struck....Here, they’re calling it ‘Michelle’s magic.’ There’s the media fascination with her clothes...but awareness, too, that with her Ivy League education and relaxed, easy charm, she’s impressive....She’s been hailed by the fashion press as a modern-day Jacqueline Kennedy, who dazzled Brits when she met the Queen.”
— NBC correspondent Dawna Friesen on Nightly News, April 1, 2009.

“When they were both walking to the helicopter the other day, Marine One, there was something like, when he looked at her, you could just tell he said, ‘Isn’t this something?’ You know, you could tell like they were experiencing the — I’m getting old here — the grooviness, the excitement of being this first American couple heading towards Marine One, which is cool in itself, heading from there to Air Force One, to a quick flight across the Atlantic, on your own plane, and to meet with the world leaders as, like, the centerpiece of the world....I’m saying it again, I’m getting a thrill....We agree, we girls agree. I don’t mind saying that. I’m excited. I’m thrilled.”
— MSNBC’s Chris Matthews talking to Michelle Bernard of the Independent Women’s Forum and Washington Post writer Lois Romano about the Obamas’ trip to Europe, April 1, 2009 Hardball.

“There’s no denying that Michelle Obama is a rock star in America, but how is her style and personality playing abroad? Well, the early reviews are very good. The apparent love affair with the U.S. First Lady is flourishing in Europe....As America’s First Lady embarks upon her first trip to Europe, the world is watching the royal family of the United States.”
— CNN’s Alina Cho on American Morning, April 1, 2009.

Reporter Keith Miller: “What the Obamas bring to Buckingham Palace is a charisma not seen since the Kennedys, when the First Lady, Jacqueline, dazzled the royal court.”
Vanity Fair’s Victoria Mather: “This is going to be the most exciting encounter of her [Queen Elizabeth II’s] long and successful reign. I think she’ll be absolutely fascinated.”
— NBC’s Today, April 1, 2009.

“George, as we wrap up the week we wanted to take note of these images we’ve been looking at, particularly this one where other heads of state are seemingly trying to get close to the head of the class, or the cool kid in the class, if you will, President Obama.”
— ABC anchor David Muir, over a photo of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arm-in-arm with President Barack Obama during the G-20 group photo session, April 4, 2009 World News.

“It didn’t take long for Barack Obama — for all his youth and inexperience — to get acclimated to his new role as the calming leader of a country in crisis....Rookie jitters? Far from it....For the past three months, Obama has spoken in firm, yet soothing tones. Sometimes he has used a just-folks approach to identify with economically struggling citizens. He has displayed wonkish tendencies, too, appearing much like the college instructor he once was while discussing the intricacies of the economic collapse. He has engaged in witty banter, teasing lawmakers, staffers, journalists and citizens alike. He has struck a statesmanlike stance, calling for a renewed partnership between the United States and its allies....”

AP Washington correspondent Liz Sidoti in an April 25, 2009 dispatch, “Obama quickly, confidently adapts to presidency.”

“One of the great surprises is what a force-multiplier Michelle Obama has turned out to be, because these two are working in such, sort of, flawless concert. You know as the world is talking about torture and the Bush administration, then we have Michelle with her vegetable garden. Talk about springtime in America!”

— Tina Brown, Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Beast Web site, CBS’s Face the Nation on April 26, 2009.

CNN Senior Analyst David Gergen: “In terms of mastery of the issues, we have rarely had a President who is as well briefed and speaks in as articulate a way as this President does. He’s nuanced. He’s very complete....He’s taken it to a whole different level in the way he speaks about issues....”
Correspondent Jessica Yellin: “What he’s done tonight is shown that the Republicans have an enormous challenge going forward, because this man is tackling so many issues at once, and in such a capable way, that it leaves the Republicans unable to target any one issue.”
— CNN live coverage following President Obama’s press conference, April 29, 2009.

“Barack Obama is a truly flabbergasting President. And in a good way — not the way some of his predecessors were. He’s not flabberghastly....He’s not the student who wears a button that says, ‘Smartest kid in class,’ but clearly he is, at least when surrounded by the White House press corps.”

— Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales, in an April 30, 2009 review of Obama’s press conference.

Mike Ciandella
Mike Ciandella
Mike Ciandella is a research analyst for the MRC's News Analysis Division