Major news networks lavished 17 times more coverage Wednesday on President Obama’s farewell address than former President George W. Bush’s 2009 speech, according to a study from the Media Research Center.
After the outgoing president took the stage Tuesday evening to bid adieu to his fellow Americans, media pundits gushed over Obama’s “emotional” “call to action.”
“It was an emotional night last night in Chicago. President Obama saying good bye while also facing a legacy that’s in jeopardy.”
The morning shows that aired on NBC, ABC and CBS lavished 16 minutes and 55 seconds of coverage to Obama’s address. The farewell address given by Bush in 2009 garnered just 55 seconds of morning network coverage.
“It was an emotional night last night in Chicago. President Obama saying good bye while also facing a legacy that’s in jeopardy,” correspondent Kristen Welker said Wednesday on NBC’s “Today,” noting that Obama was “returning to his adopted hometown of Chicago and bidding a final farewell to an electrified crowd and a divided nation.”
“Today” allotted 7 minutes and 54 seconds total to its glowing coverage of Obama’s speech. But the show offered no such reception for Bush’s farewell address in 2009, as MRC noted. Just 38 seconds were spared the morning after Bush delivered his speech — a speech that the major networks wrote off as “defensive.”
ABC’s “Good Morning America” yawned while recapping Bush’s 2009 address, spending a mere 17 seconds reporting on it. But after Obama bid farewell, the show was all too eager to sacrifice 4 minutes and 34 seconds on its coverage an featured co-host Michael Strahan saying, “And he’s leaving the same way he came in — a lot of grace and a lot of dignity.”
As for CBS’s “This Morning,” 3 minutes and 37 seconds were spent discussing Obama’s speech. But as MRC noted, “In 2009, the then-CBS Early Show completely ignored President Bush’s farewell address.”
While the networks eagerly anticipated Obama’s inauguration in 2009, in 2017, the morning shows divided their time between memorializing Obama’s legacy and essentially bemoaning President-elect Donald Trump’s impending administration.
"Yeah, this was his Obama realist speech, saying that he believes essentially that American democracy, something as fundamental as that, is under assault right now," correspondent Jon Karl said on "Good Morning America." "He’s worried about racial divisions, political divisions. He's worried about so much of what was behind the election. He never directly attacks Donald Trump, but it was a pretty profound warning."