NBC's Andrea Mitchell encapsulated the veneration for Barack Obama and what his inauguration means to the media elite as she began a Tuesday NBC Nightly News story about her day watching the festivities: “It may take days or years to really absorb the significance of what happened to America today, even for those of us who were lucky enough to have a very close up front view.” Showing a clip of the new President saying “I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear,” Mitchell proudly trumpeted: “His very name opening doors, as did his speech, to the rest of the world.” And while most saw a sea of people waving flags, Mitchell saw something more meaningful for Obama, though it reflected more about her: “The mass flickering of cell phone cameras on the mall seemed like stars shining back at him.”
She also touted “the final blessing from a civil rights icon, the Reverend Joseph Lowery, changing the tones of official Washington,” but his prayer hardly saw a unified nation. In the soundbite she aired, he lectured the American people: “We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right.”
Mitchell, however, concluded on a more upbeat note: “One day can't fully erase what the new President called the 'bitter swill of civil war and segregation,' but today it sure felt as though we'd come a long way.”
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the story aired in the second half of the hour-long January 20 NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Immediately after lunch was over, the inaugural parade got under way, we discovered by dubbing it "Flatbed One" that our own indomitable Andrea Mitchell had one of the best vantage points on the whole day on a flatbed truck directly in front of the new President's limousine. She has survived the trip, joins us from the White House lawn tonight. Andrea, good evening.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Good evening, Brian, and what a day it was. It may take days or years to really absorb the significance of what happened to America today, even for those of us who were lucky enough to have a very close up front view. It was no ordinary inaugural. Not just the enormous crowds braving the cold and the security lines for hours to see this particular passage of power, but there's also electricity in the air in the high-rent seats among the very important persons, as the assembled Senators and House members sitting here are called.
And because of Barack Obama it's no longer a sea of white faces. Celebrities, civil rights heroes and millions more drawn by the desire to witness history, to celebrate and preserve the memories. People, as far as the eye can see, not a patch of green all the way to the Washington Monument. This tells the story of what Barack Obama's inauguration means to Washington, to America, and to the rest of the world. When he finally emerged, he seemed, even in this throng, so solitary, somber, perhaps already feeling the weight of the world, even before he was transformed into the leader of the free world.
BARACK OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear-
MITCHELL: His very name opening doors, as did his speech, to the rest of the world. The ceremony acknowledging a debt to the sacrifices that made this day possible. The final blessing from a civil rights icon, the Reverend Joseph Lowery, changing the tones of official Washington.
REVEREND JOSEPH LOWERY: We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right.
MITCHELL: And the mass flickering of cell phone cameras on the mall seemed like stars shining back at him. Now, the 44th President in his new car, finally getting to see the admiring crowds who have waited so long. He's waving at the crowd surrounded by Secret Service, and Michelle Obama is also out of the car. They're walking up Pennsylvania Avenue. I'd say they are maybe about 50 yards from me right now walking up Pennsylvania Avenue, walking slowly. Brian, the crowds are going crazy here. People are just piled up on bleachers out front of the old post office building, just as the Obamas are approaching. The walk made their new connection to Washington, D.C., all the more personal, as America gets to know a new First Family. One day can't fully erase what the new President called the "bitter swill of civil war and segregation," but today it sure felt as though we'd come a long way.