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Nets Reluctant to Characterize Obama’s Inaugural Speech as ‘Liberal,’ See ‘Meditation on Freedom and Equality’ [UPDATED]

Brent Baker's picture

[See Update at bottom on how they caught up with reality the next night]

“Analysts on the left and the right are calling President Obama’s second inaugural address the most liberal speech he has delivered in office,” FNC’s Bret Baier announced at the top of Monday’s Special Report. Those on the left and right may, but that didn’t include the reporters on the ABC and CBS  evening newscasts who scrupulous avoided applying a liberal description to Obama’s address.

On ABC’s World News, Bill Weir innocuously cited how Obana’s speech delivered “a theme of moving forward together,” before George Stephanopoulos asserted: “What you saw today, is the President gave a meditation on freedom and equality, was a President who also felt free.”

Over on the CBS Evening News, Major Garrett also avoided a liberal label, summarizing: “President Obama knows the debate over deficit reduction and entitlement programs, like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, is straight ahead. Mr. Obama used today’s speech to tell skeptical Republicans that these three pillars of the Great Society must remain.”

Later Bob Schieffer acknowledged who would applaud Obama’s content: “I think the left will like it a lot. The people on the right, not so much.”

Those on the NBC Nightly News couldn’t bring themselves to use the “liberal” term, but hinted at Obama’s liberal direction. David Gregory euphemistically hailed Obama’s “robust defense of a progressive vision of what government ought to do.” Chuck Todd soon added: “The President basically declaring ideological victory. Saying, hey, the country made a choice. We’re moving not center right, but center left, with progressive priorities here.”

Others in the NBC News empire weren’t so obtuse. “I think this was a forthrightly liberal speech,” declared Joy Reid, of NBC’s The Grio.com, on MSNBC’s Hardball where host Chris Matthews called it “very liberal on immigration.”

(In a second Hardball on 7 PM EST, Matthews trumpeted Obama as “Lincolnesque,” proposing: “I thought it was Lincolnesque for the reason that Gary Wills once said about the Gettysburg address. That in that address, when the President said at that time, ‘four score and seven years ago,’  he wasn’t going back to the Constitution, which is rather dry, although important, but to the Declaration, which was truly inspiring as our founding document.”)

[UPDATE: January 23: The next night, Tuesday, January 22, all three network evening newscasts decided Obama’s speech was “liberal,” using the term they all refused to utter the night of the inaugural, though all put it in a positive light:

> ABC’s Jonathan Karl on
World News: “President Obama’s inaugural speech outlined a boldly liberal vision...”

>
CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley: “The President called for an ambitious liberal agenda in his inaugural address yesterday...”

> Kristen Welker: “On Monday, resolve: Defending entitlements and calling for action on climate change and gay rights; a broad liberal agenda.” ]