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Surprise! ABC Discovers That Barack Obama Is a 'Progressive' 'Liberal'

Scott Whitlock's picture

After years of downplaying ideological labels for Barack Obama, ABC has seemingly accepted the idea that the President is a "progressive" and a "liberal." While recapping the inauguration, Good Morning America's journalists used the terms four times in just two minutes and 45 seconds. Yet, when Obama was a Democratic primary candidate in 2007, the networks deployed the L-word just twice– in the entire year.

On Tuesday, George Stephanopoulos hyped the ideological content of Obama's second inaugural: "The speech, a call to action, an uncompromising enunciation of liberal principles." Seconds later, the former Democratic operative turned journalist reiterated, insisting that "liberals were cheering yesterday." Jon Karl trumpeted, "He went big. He went lofty. He went ambitious. And he went unmistakably liberal." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

The labels continued as Karl repeated, "[Obama] unapologetically laid out a progressive agenda, promising action on climate change, equal pay for women and immigration."

It only took two presidential elections for ABC to come around to this idea. The ABC graphic for the segment promoted this liberal agenda: "Obama's Inaugural: 'We Must Act' Pushes Equality and Togetherness." 

On August 16, 2011, the MRC's Rich Noyes looked at the meager ideological labeling during 2007:

Viewers only heard two liberal labels for then-Senator Barack Obama, who, like Edwards, espoused strongly liberal positions as a candidate. The labels came in a single flattering story by ABC’s Jake Tapper that was aired both on the January 16, 2007 World News and the next morning’s Good Morning America: "Obama has drawn raves for presenting fairly traditional liberal views as fresh and inspiring...."

In August of 2012, ABC wrapped Paul Ryan in "conservative" labels, but failed to tag Obama's Vice President, Joe Biden, in 2008 as a "liberal."

As late as Monday night, ABC wasn't characterizing Obama's inaugural as liberal. On World News, Bill Weir described the theme as "moving forward together."

A partial transcript of the January 22 segment is below:


7:01

ABC GRAPHIC: Obama's Inaugural: "We Must Act" Pushes Equality and Togetherness

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn to President Obama, now, and what's in store for the second term after yesterday's inaugural. The speech, a call to action and uncompromising enunciation of liberal principles. The question, now, what can actually get done on those big issue like gun control, gay rights and climate change? ABC's Jon Karl has more on that from the White House. And, Jon, liberals were cheering yesterday. Republicans, not so much.

JON KARL: That's right, George. The President has set the tone for his second agenda-- second term. He went big. He went lofty. He went ambitious. And he went unmistakably liberal. Over and over again, President Obama echoed his campaign slogan. Now a theme for his second term: Forward together.

OBAMA [montage] : Together we determine. Together we discover– Together–

KARL: With that, he invited all Americans to celebrate the changing landscape of American culture.

OBAMA: We have always understood that when times change, so must we. But preserving our individual freedom ultimately requires collective action.

KARL: He unapologetically laid out a progressive agenda, promising action on climate change, equal pay for women and immigration.

OBAMA: Progress does not compel us to settle the centuries-long debates about the role of government for all-time. But it does require us to act in our time.

KARL: And for the first time ever in an inaugural address, the President specifically mentioned gay rights.