Media liberals are not exactly objective observers on the subjects of race and politics, and the election night coverage of the 2008 presidential election brought out their biases for all to see.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews set the stage for partisan coverage before the results even came in, saying, “the whole world is watching to see if we are going to be the only Western nation to get it right”—”getting it right” means a majority-white country electing a black president. But things really picked up the moment Mr. Obama’s election became official. It was “the passing of the old order,” crowed an anchor on CNN, and black political analyst Roland Martin, also of CNN, explained that “we can now entrust this generation with the leadership of the country.”
Mr. Martin’s colleague, Gloria Borger, worried that “white voters in Confederate states still voted for McCain by two to one,” but she found solace in the fact that “out West, changing demographics are making this a different country.” She concluded her analysis by dismissing the GOP as “monochrome.” CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, a half-white, half-Hispanic reporter made the same point: “The face of America is changing. And that face doesn’t look like Joe the Plumber.”
MSNBC, the most leftist of the major networks, openly celebrated the results. Commentator Rachel Maddow and black Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson broke down in tears over the victory of the Great Helmsman. Mr. Robinson, notorious for defending Duke lacrosse hoaxer Crystal Gail Mangum, sobbed that he was so glad his parents were still alive to see the golden moment.
Her voice breaking, Miss Maddow offered a quick history lesson. “The ideas of America—a meritocracy and a leading light of democracy—have been built on a house of cards. Slavery built our Capitol and our national firmament.” Apparently Mr. Obama will steady our shaky foundations.
MSNBC commentator Keith Olberman compared the election of Obama to the U.S. landing on the moon and noted we are now “a different sort of democracy.” He saw the election as a necessary sequel to the Civil War and “all the small, little murders 100 year after” but was pleased to note that after a civil rights movement into which “too many Americans had to be dragged kicking and screaming,” this step in our redemption was relatively painless.
Black Georgia congressman John Lewis, who had compared John McCain and Sarah Palin to George Wallace, called the election of Obama a “nonviolent revolution.” He remembered as a schoolboy looking up above the chalkboard at all the pictures of past presidents and thinking that none looked like him.
Obama’s victory in Virginia particularly excited liberals. Mr. Matthews noted that Richmond was the capitol of the Confederacy and still has monuments to Confederate heroes. For a black man to win the state means “this is a different country than the one I grew up in.” Virginia Governor Tim Kaine was more blunt: “Old Virginny is dead.”
Fox News, the only conservative network, was more restrained but still gushed over the new president. Black commentator Juan Williams has often been critical of Mr. Obama, but said his victory was not just an important page in American history. “It may be the cover of the history book.”
National Review’s Michael Potemra roamed New York City on election night recording his thoughts. He admired the “people of all races and ages” celebrating at Congressman Charlie Rangel’s block party, and wrote:
“I ask a rhetorical question: Can we McCain voters, without embarrassment, shed a tear of patriotic joy about the historic significance of what just happened? And I offer a short, rhetorical answer.
“Yes, we can.”
It is worth noting how different the supporters were at the candidates’ respective election-night parties. The McCain crowd was a sea of older white faces listening to country music. The boisterous Obama crowds in Harlem, Times Square, and Chicago were sprinkled with celebrities like Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey, and attracted massive numbers of both blacks and whites. What would have happened to those whites—some with small children—if Obama had lost?
In his concession speech, McCain played the beautiful loser. He congratulated Obama for overcoming “the old injustices that stained our nation,” and “the cruel and painful bigotry” of the American past. A professor on a local Washington, DC newscast whose name I couldn’t catch called Mr. McCain a “hero” for refusing to bring up Obama’s connections to Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Overseas media were just as unrestrained. “One Giant Step for Mankind” read the front page of England’s Sun newspaper. An article on the London Telegraph website read: “Barack Obama Victory Allows Britain to Love US Again.” The Times modestly headlined the victory, “The New World.”
The French establishment paper Le Monde quoted a happy black Frenchman as saying, “Now I’m going to include a photo with my résumé.” All across Africa, there was dancing and singing in the streets. Kenyans, especially, gloried in their kinsman’s victory, and the government declared a national holiday to let them celebrate.
If the fawning coverage Mr. Obama has enjoyed is any indication, the media—all around the world—will be about as critical of his administration as Pravda was of Leonid Brezhnev.