CNN’s Knees Go Weak Looking Back at Obama Election, Painting Tea Partiers as Whack Jobs

Despite the first half or so of CNN’s The 2000s episode on the 2008 election and the early Obama years being largely pain-free on the bias front, the liberal media’s overwhelming love for Barack Obama burst through when it hit Election Day 2008 and the two years afterward.

In all, CNN swooned over the Obama election with zero objectivity, portrayed Obama as trying to be bipartisan, and subtly painted Tea Partiers as angry, irrational conspiracy theorists who ran around with signs depicting the President as the Joker or a Nazi.

 

 

At the 46-minute mark, an old news clip from ABC’s David Muir touted the polls opening with massive lines and a current soundbite from far-left New York Times columnist Charles Blow gushing: “All of it felt like: Is this a real thing? Like is it possible that America could do this. And so it was all like a collective holding of our breath.”

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer was shown leading the network’s election coverage while the CNN figurehead reminisced about how announcing Obama as the next President “was an electric moment that I’ll never forget.” 

Later in clips from Inauguration Day, Blitzer gushed at the time that everyone watching were “privileged to have this front-row seat to history.”

Back to Election Night and interspersed with clips from Obama supporters crying, The Boston Globe’s Renee Graham proclaimed:

For those who lived through segregation, who had lived through the civil right era, it felt like the full fulfillment of everything they thought the country could be. When something seems impossible and suddenly it’s achieved, it’s sort of beyond words. It's — it’s still a shock to me. 

Former Obama advisor and senior political commentator David Axelrod added that the feeling “was just overwhelming” upon realizing that his “friend of some years now President-elect and you could see almost instantly a change” with “the weight of the world on his shoulders.”

Shifting to the stimulus, historian Yohuru Williams remarked that “Obama believed he’ll somehow be able reach across the aisle, but this kind of hope and change and optimism that had made this such an inspiring campaign runs up against the reality of politics in 2009 when he takes office.” 

He was then followed by a clip from NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell noting the lack of bipartisanship from Republicans to support the Obama stimulus.

CNN presidential historian Julian Zelzier piled on, hyping that “Obama is incredibly ambitious, and he still sees that 2009 is a unique moment” as Democrats had strong majorities in both the House and Senate. 

On ObamaCare, Zelizer observed: “Obama believes that Republicans will vote with him on something that's reasonable, that if he compromises, they will as well, but over the course of the next few months, it turns into a terrible political challenge.”

But when it came to the Tea Party movement and summer town halls in 2009, CNN used a clip from Lyin’ Brian Williams to condemn their “shouting at so-called town meetings” as having “reached a fever pitch.”

The filmmakers then partnered Sarah Palin’s ObamaCare death panels claim with clips of anti-Obama protesters showing the President to everything from a communist to the Joke to a Muslim to a Nazi to tacitly argue that the Tea Party was extreme and kooky.

Never Trump Republican Mona Charen opined in response: “There was an element in the Republican coalition that was already beginning to listen to conspiracy theories and falsehoods. It was a sign of the kinds of things that were going to see balloon later on.”

Later and after running newsclips and an Axelrod soundbite about ObamaCare’s passage, former Newsweek editor Evan Thomas reacted to the Republican-dominated 2010 midterm election with this doozy (click “expand” to read more):

The mistake was to think that the country speaks as one. They were all one thing. What we really are is a mass of reactions. We're always reacting to the last thing that happened. So if the country goes left, you can be damn sure it's going to go right. If the country is looking for rich people one day, well then the poor people are going to hate that and get angry. If we think that we're past race, well racism will come right back. Our pendulum swings and in the long run, we make progress, but it can be pretty ugly to watch. 

Somewhat not surprisingly, the episode ended with Obama’s now-infamous taunting of Donald Trump at the 2010 White House Correspondents Dinner, which some cite as the moment when Trump began to (yet again) ponder a presidential bid.

To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s The 2000s on August 12, click “expand.”

CNN’s The 2000s: Yes We Can
August 13, 2018
9:46 p.m. Eastern

DAVID MUIR [on 11/04/08]: As the polls open from the east to the west across this country, the same picture continued to emerged. Eager voters showed up before the polls even opened and, in many cases, lines as far as the eye could see. 

CHARLES BLOW: All of it felt like: Is this a real thing? Like is it possible that America could do this. And so it was all like a collective holding of our breath.

WOLF BLITZER: [on 11/04/08] We’re only a few seconds away from the top of the hour when these states will be closing. [NOW] The rules are that we had to wait until all the voting had ended. I remember at 10:59:50, my executive producer was in the ear, saying 10 seconds. It was an electric moment that I’ll never forget. [on 11/04/08] And CNN can now project that Barack Obama, 47 year old, he will be the first African-American President of the United States. 

[CROWS CHEER]

RENEE GRAHAM: For those who lived through segregation, who had lived through the civil right era, it felt like the full fulfillment of everything they thought the country could be. 

[CROWD CHEERING IN CHICAGO’s GRANT PARK]

GRAHAM: When something seems impossible and suddenly it’s achieved, it’s sort of beyond words. It's — it’s still a shock to me. 

(....)

DAVID AXELROD: It was just overwhelming. There was my friend of some years now President-elect and you could see almost instantly a change. You could see the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was already thinking about responsibilities that had just flowed to him. In the gravity of the moment, it was palpable. 

(....)

[CROWD CHEERING AT INAUGURATION]

BLITZER: All of us were watching in the United States and around the world, we’re really privileged to have this front-row seat to history.

OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear —

BLITZER: Tomorrow, the President of the United States gets down to real business and the enormous challenge facing him and the country on foreign policy, national security front and also on the economic front. 

DAVID GREGEN: By all indications he relishes the chance to go into the oval office and get started. He wants to get moving. 

CHIP REID: It's a rare day when a President goes to the Capitol to meet only with members of the other party.

OBAMA: Hello, everybody! 

REID: President Obama did just that to actively seek bipartisan support for his $825 billion economic stimulus package. 

OBAMA: We had a wonderful stage of ideas. 

YOHURU WILLIAMS: Obama believed he’ll somehow be able reach across the aisle. But this kind of hope and change and optimism that had made this such an inspiring campaign runs up against the reality of politics in 2009 when he takes office. 

COLORADO DEMOCRATIC SENATOR MARK UDALL: H.R. 1, as amended, passes. 

KELLY O’DONNELL: It's a victory that came with almost no Republican support zero on the House side, three in the Senate, a long way from those hopes of bipartisanship. 

(....)

JULIAN ZELIZER: President Obama is incredibly ambitious, and he still sees that 2009 is a unique moment. The Democrats control the House and Senate, and he realizes these windows are limited. 

CHARLES GIBSON: The President vowed to solve a problem that has bedeviled presidents since Theodore Roosevelt, how to reduce health care costs and expand coverage.

(....)

ZELIZER: Obama believes that Republicans will vote with him on something that's reasonable, that if he compromises, they will as well, but over the course of the next few months, it turns into a terrible political challenge. 

BRIAN WILLIAMS: As members of Congress return to their districts for their month-long summer break to hear from their constituents, the shouting at so-called town meetings has sometimes reached a fever pitch. 

WOMAN AT TOWN HALL TO SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER: I don't want this country turning into Russia, turning into a socialized country. 

MAN AT TOWN HALL: This is not health reform. This is control. 

WOMAN #2 AT TOWN HALL: I want to know if it’s coming out of my paycheck.

ERIC CANTOR: We really were seeing people who were never involved in politics before, grandmothers, grandfathers across the country, hey, give me my country back. 2009 was the awakening of the tea party. 

BILL WEIR: Sarah Palin has now waded into the heated health care debate in a new Facebook posting, the former Governor raises the possibility of what she calls an Obama “death panel.” 

PROTESTER WITH OBAMA SWASTIKA SIGN: Millions of elderly people will be given the pill to make comfortable while they die. 

MONA CHAREN: There was an element in the Republican coalition that was already beginning to listen to conspiracy theories and falsehoods. It was a sign of the kinds of things that were going to see balloon later on. 

OBAMA: Where we do disagree, let's disagree on things that are real, not these wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that’s been proposed.

REID: The President said the debate is over. It’s time to pass health care reform. But with Republicans still unanimously opposed, the President left no doubt he wants Democrats in congress to pass his bill with Democratic votes only. 

OBAMA: When's the right time? If not now, when? If not us, who?

AXELROD: As the final votes came in, I went and I found the president and I said, you know, I'm so thankful for what you did here on behalf of all those families who won't have to go through what I went through when my child was young and had a chronic illness and we almost went bankrupt. And he just said that's why we do the work. 

(....)

BLOW: There's a funny thing about political success. People tend to rest at the top of the mountain. And the people who are out of power tend to gather the energy because they have a focal point. We want to get rid of this person — this Congress. We want to change things and that change possibility is energetic and frenetic. 

(....)

GLORIA BORGER: Two years ago, Barack Obama was at 62 percent in the polls. Time magazine declared the Republican party all but extinct and look at where we are now. The voters have not gotten what they asked for. 

EVAN THOMAS: The mistake was to think that the country speaks as one. They were all one thing. What we really are is a mass of reactions. We're always reacting to the last thing that happened. So if the country goes left, you can be damn sure it's going to go right. If the country is looking for rich people one day, well then the poor people are going to hate that and get angry. If we think that we're past race, well racism will come right back. Our pendulum swings and in the long run, we make progress, but it can be pretty ugly to watch. 

OBAMA [at the 2010 White House Correspondents Dinner]: What a week. As some of you heard, the state of Hawaii released my official long-form birth certificate....No one is happier...to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald....Obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience....No, seriously, just recently, in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice....Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil’ Jon or Meatloaf.  You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.


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