Another Night, Another Round of Cheers for the Democrats

ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS’s Early Show led the praise for the third night of the Democratic convention, with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos enthralled by how well it was going for Democrats. “I think every night in this convention has built on the one that came before,” he exclaimed Thursday morning, adding: “The speeches have gotten better every night.”

[Check here and here for a re-cap of how the morning shows drooled over the first two nights of the Democratic convention.]

CBS co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez, who isn’t even in Denver but rather back in The Early Show’s New York studios, touted how Obama’s speech at Denver’s football stadium suggested “they're going to play the Super Bowl of politics there tonight.” She enthusiastically remarked: “If the crowd went as wild as it did yesterday at the Pepsi Center when he [Barack Obama] showed up, just imagine what 75,000 screaming fans will sound like. It's going to be something.”

NBC’s Today was a tad more restrained in its review of Wednesday night’s program but, like reporters on the other morning shows, correspondent David Gregory stressed the history-making nature of Obama’s nomination and former President Bill Clinton’s praise of the Democratic nominee:

GREGORY: In primetime, the stage belonged to former President Bill Clinton.
BILL CLINTON: I'm here, first, to support Barack Obama.
GREGORY: The former President showered praise on the man he had worked to defeat.
CLINTON: He has a remarkable ability to inspire people, to raise our hopes and rally us to high purpose. He has the intelligence and curiosity every successful President needs.
GREGORY: Above all, Clinton sought to erase his harshest critique of Obama that he lacked the experience to be President.
CLINTON: Barack Obama is ready to be President of the United States.

Only CBS’s Jeff Greenfield suggested a phoniness to Bill Clinton’s endorsing comments: “Bill Clinton said ‘he has all these other qualities that, you know, that I couldn’t -- maybe I didn't talk about or discover in the primary against my wife.’” In other words: forget everything you heard over the past ten months.

As he did Wednesday night on Nightline, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos (a former Clinton campaign operative) was the most exuberant about declaring success for the Democrats, in a conversation with co-anchor Robin Roberts at around 7:14am EDT on Thursday:

ROBIN ROBERTS: Has this been a success thus far?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So far I think every night in this convention has built on the one that came before. You really saw Barack Obama's biography explained by Michelle Obama. You had that handover from the Clintons, both Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton last night. You had Joe Biden draw the contrast between the parties so the table has really been set for Barack Obama to come here tonight.

The only supposed drawback, Stephanopoulos suggested, was that Obama might be handicapped by the fact that the previous speeches by Bill and Hillary Clinton have been so phenomenal: “In some ways the bar has been raised as well because the speeches have gotten better every night.”

On CBS’s The Early Show, MRC analyst Kyle Drennen noted, correspondent Bill Plante stressed how the Democratic delegates “erupted in celebration” and how “the crowd went wild.” CBS repeatedly emphasized how Obama would be accepting his nomination on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington, further wrapping Obama in the cloak of history-maker. Here’s the transcript of Plante’s story, which was typical of all three networks’ approach:

HARRY SMITH: First, history being made in Denver today. We're joined by CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, who's out on the playing field this morning. Good morning, Bill.
BILL PLANTE: Good morning, Harry. A lot of behind-the-scenes drama went in to the nomination which will be celebrated so dramatically on that stage over there tonight. So Wednesday, the Democrats were busy soothing hard feelings.
CHICAGO MAYOR RICHARD DALEY: We yield to the great State of New York.
PLANTE: With Clinton and Obama both placed in nomination, the roll call was suspended and the New York delegation recognized.
UNIDENTIFIED NEW YORK DELEGATE: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton!
HILLARY CLINTON: I move Senator Barack Obama of Illinois be selected by this convention by acclimation as the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States.
PLANTE: The floor erupted in agreement and celebration. Only one question remained: would President Bill Clinton, who took his wife's loss very personally, really embrace the man who beat her?
BILL CLINTON: Hillary told us in no uncertain terms that she is going to do everything she can to elect Barack Obama. That makes two of us. Actually, that makes 18 million of us.
PLANTE: On the campaign trail this year, the former President repeatedly questioned Obama's qualifications for the presidency. Wednesday night, Clinton declared himself satisfied.
BILL CLINTON: Barack Obama is ready to be President of the United States.
PLANTE: Then it was Joe Biden's turn.
JOE BIDEN: Yes. Yes, I accept your nomination to run and serve with Barack Obama, the next President of the United States of America.
PLANTE: Biden launched immediately into his role as the attack dog against his friend, John McCain.
JOE BIDEN: John thinks that during the Bush years, quote, 'we've made great economic progress.' I think it's been abysmal. Again and again on the most important national security issues of our time, John McCain was wrong and Barack Obama has been proven right.
PLANTE: Then Barack Obama sauntered on to the stage in a surprise appearance.
OBAMA: I think the convention's gone pretty well so far, what do you think?
PLANTE: And the crowd went wild as Obama gave shout outs to Hillary and Bill Clinton, to his wife, and to the Bidens. And then explained his decision to speak tonight in the stadium:
OBAMA: And so, we want to open up this convention to make sure that everybody who wants to come can join in the party and join in the effort to take America back.
PLANTE: Now despite the grandiose setting, Obama's staff has been playing down expectations that tonight's speech will be anything like the one he gave in 2004, or, for that matter, anything like the 'I Have A Dream' speech Dr. Martin Luther King gave 45 years ago today. Instead, they're saying that it will be a way of outlining the differences between him and John McCain. Harry.
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