ABC, NBC Boost Obama’s ‘Aggressive’ SOTU Speech

On Tuesday night, President Obama gave his sixth State of the Union address, and on Wednesday morning, ABC and CBS did their best to boost his speech and tout his liberal agenda to their audiences. 

During their respective broadcasts, ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today made sure to play up Obama’s “renewed swagger” by giving an “aggressive speech” to Congress and America. ABC’s Jonathan Karl, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent, went so far as to declare Obama “seemed so confident you would have thought he had just won another election.” 

GMA co-host George Stephanopoulos began ABC’s coverage of the State of the Union by declaring that Obama “took credit for the economic recovery, offered up an uncompromising liberal agenda for his last two years.” The ABC anchor then turned to Karl who offered up some White House propaganda:

I didn't hear any concessions from the president, George. In fact, he seemed so confident you would have thought he had just won another election. The president who campaigned saying “yes we can” has a new theme, “yes, we did.” 
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The president’s confidence was most obvious when he went off script during the most memorable line of the night...Almost immediately the #iwonboth started trending on Twitter. Setting a defiant tone for the next two years, the president vowed to fight Republican efforts to roll back any of his policies from immigration to ObamaCare. 

The ABC reporter continued to promote Obama’s agenda: 

Striking a populist tone the president called for higher taxes on the wealthy and new programs to help the middle class including free community college for all and he vowed to continue to fight for things he couldn't get done even before the Republicans took over like raising the minimum wage. 

Rather than play an actual soundbite from Senator Joni Ernst’s (R-Iowa) official GOP response, Karl described her as the “the pig castrating new Republican Senator” before he read a brief quote from her speech. 

Over on NBC, Today co-host Savannah Guthrie cheered Obama “displaying renewed swagger in his sixth address to the nation as he outlined a vision for the final two years of his presidency.” The NBC anchor then turned to Peter Alexander, NBC National Correspondent, to further play up Obama’s “ambitious” agenda: 

Casting aside his lame duck status, a noticeably confident president laid out a laundry list of ambitious proposals aimed at helping the middle class. Tax hikes for the wealthy, paid sick leave and free community college tuition. And he challenged Republican support of the Keystone Pipeline.  

Unlike ABC, NBC actually played a soundbite of Ernst’s response and even included remarks from Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.). However, the NBC reporter made sure to surround the GOP clips with a soundbite from a woman in Iowa who beamed at how she “really felt like the president emphasized just the character of our nation.” 

CBS This Morning provided the most reserved coverage of Obama’s speech with Major Garrett, CBS News Chief White House Correspondent, noting GOP opposition to the president’s tax-and-spend agenda:

But the Republicans are unlikely to forget the midterm election which they won handily and the power that gives them the right to push their own agenda, one that does not include the president’s pitch for higher taxes on the wealthy and more federal spending. 

Unlike his network colleagues, the CBS News reporter chose not to give the White House free publicity and did not mention the president’s “most memorable line of the night.” The network also played an extensive soundbite from Ernst's speech. 

See relevant transcripts below. 

ABC’s Good Morning America

January 21, 2015    

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re going to turn now to the State of the Union. An aggressive speech from President Obama last night saying the shadow of crisis has passed. He took credit for the economic recovery, offered up an uncompromising liberal agenda for his last two years. ABC's Jon Karl was in the chamber. He joins us, Jon joins us now. And Jon, you were there. There was not a lot of love in that chamber last night.

JONATHAN KARL: Yeah, I didn't hear any concessions from the president, George. In fact, he seemed so confident you would have thought he had just won another election. The president who campaigned saying “yes we can” has a new theme, “yes, we did.” 

BARACK OBAMA: We've seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade. Our deficit's cut by two-thirds. A stock market that has doubled and health care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years. This is good news, people. 

KARL: The president’s confidence was most obvious when he went off script during the most memorable line of the night. 

OBAMA: I have no more campaigns to run. My only agenda -- I know because I won both of them.

KARL: Almost immediately the #iwonboth started trending on Twitter. Setting a defiant tone for the next two years, the president vowed to fight Republican efforts to roll back any of his policies from immigration to ObamaCare. 

OBAMA: And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things I will veto it. 

KARL: Striking a populist tone the president called for higher taxes on the wealthy and new programs to help the middle class including free community college for all and he vowed to continue to fight for things he couldn't get done even before the Republicans took over like raising the minimum wage. 

OBAMA: If you truly believe you can work full time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest working people in America a raise.

KARL: And closing the Guantanamo Bay prison. 

OBAMA: And I will not relent in my determination to shut it down. It is not who we are. 

KARL: Republicans didn't applaud much at all and the president said nothing to acknowledge that Republicans had just won a big victory in the midterm elections. But the entire chamber did cheer guests in the First Lady's box. Especially Alan Gross, released just last month after being jailed for more than five years by the Cuban government. It was up to Joni Ernst, the pig castrating new Republican Senator from Iowa to give the Republican response.

Fresh off her dramatic election victory last November, she reminded everybody that the president's party was trounced in November and promised a big change in direction from the president's policies saying, “we heard the message you sent in November loud and clear.” George, it was clearly a different message than the message the president heard. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, sounds like a recipe for stalemate. 

KARL: Absolutely. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, Jon Karl, thanks very much. 

 

NBC’s Today 
January 21, 2015

MATT LAUER: And good morning, welcome to “Today” on a Wednesday morning. Everybody listen to the speech last night or watch it? 

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Yeah, it was an interesting State of the Union address. A little bit of sassiness in there from both sides. 

LAUER: Yeah, that's a moment that a lot of people are talking about this morning. We’re going to have more on that coming up right now. 

GUTHRIE: And It's our top story, the State of the Union. President Obama displaying renewed swagger in his sixth address to the nation as he outlined a vision for the final two years of his presidency. Let’s get right to NBC National Correspondent Peter Alexander at the White House for us this morning. Hi Peter, good morning. 

PETER ALEXANDER: Hi, Savannah. Good morning. To last night the refrain, this morning the reality check. The president confidently calling for action even if little is likely. With an estimated audience probably 30 million Americans watching, President Obama was upbeat, he was optimistic, touting his major accomplishments and pressing Republicans to turn the page. 

BARACK OBAMA: The state of the union is strong. 

ALEXANDER: For 60 minutes and more than 6,000 words, President Obama, speaking in his next to last State of the Union, took credit for the recovering economy. 

OBAMA: A stock market that has doubled and health care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years. This is good news, people. 

ALEXANDER: Casting aside his lame duck status, a noticeably confident president laid out a laundry list of ambitious proposals aimed at helping the middle class. Tax hikes for the wealthy, paid sick leave and free community college tuition. And he challenged Republican support of the Keystone Pipeline. 

OBAMA: So let's set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline and pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create 30 times as many jobs per year. 

ALEXANDER: On foreign policy, President Obama urged lawmakers to lift the Cuban trade embargo and cautioned the battle to defeat ISIS will take time. 

OBAMA: It will require focus, but we will succeed. 

ALEXANDER: Despite calls for unity. 

OBAMA: I still believe that together we can do great things even when the odds are long. 

ALEXANDER: Republicans jumped on this line, teeing up what may have been the comeback of the night -- 

OBAMA: I have no more campaigns to run. My only agenda -- I know because I won both of them. 

ALEXANDER: Iowa Senator Joni Ernst delivered the official Republican response. 

JONI ERNST: Congress is back to work on your behalf ready to make Washington focus on your concerns again. 

ALEXANDER: One of several Republicans offering their take on the president. 

RAND PAUL: In the sense that he wants to claim there has been a great economic recovery which a lot of people have said it’s been fairly tepid. But at the same time he wants to say, well we still have these problems of income inequality and I wonder whose fault that is. 

ALEXANDER: In the American heartland Ames, Iowa, where less than a year from now voters will kick off the presidential picking process, three generations of the Eller family judged the president's performance. 

UNKNOWN PERSON: I really felt like the president emphasized just the character of our nation. 

UNKNOWN PERSON 2: He speaks well, gets the message across real well. Whether he can do it or not is another subject, you know. 

ALEXANDER: The president will hit the road again this morning to punctuate his message. With stops in Idaho today, that’s his first trip there actually since taking office. Kansas tomorrow, both of them red states. But the bottom line here Matt, this sounded a lot like a Democratic Party platform speech putting the president on another collision course with Republicans. Matt? 

LAUER: Peter Alexander, thank you very much.

State of the Union ABC Good Morning America CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Jonathan Karl Peter Alexander Major Garrett Savannah Guthrie George Stephanopoulos Barack Obama

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