Iowa '08 Flashback: Media Begins Flirtation with Obama, But Still Hailing Hillary

At this time four years ago the liberal media was just starting its flirtation with Barack Obama in Iowa, while others still carried the torch for Hillary Clinton. On the eve before the Iowa caucus Chris Matthews, on Hardball, hoped that an Obama win in Iowa would send the message to the world that a "despised" America was truly ready to "change." For her part, then Today co-host Meredith Vieira was still caught up in Hillary hype as she touted that, "up close the Senator and former First Lady is natural, confident and warm."

On the January 2, 2008 Nightly News, NBC's Andrea Mitchell did her part to advance the notion of Obama's centrism as she sought out "a lifelong Republican, who twice voted for George Bush, now canvassing for Obama" as "a precinct captain" in Iowa.

On the January 2, 2008 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, Chris Cuomo seemed to fear that latent racism or sexism on the part of Iowa caucus voters could derail Obama or Clinton's chances as he asked then Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards:

"Do you think race or gender may play an unspoken role in the caucus voting?"

Prior to that exchange, on the December 20, 2007 Good Morning America, Cuomo directly pressed Obama: "What do you think the bigger obstacle is for you in becoming President, the Clinton campaign machine or America's inherent racism?"

Matthews began the Obama lovefest on his January 2, 2008 edition of Hardball:

"Barack Obama, on the eve of Iowa, is the very name tonight, the very statement, the very being of the word 'change.' If I sit here tomorrow night reporting that he has won the Iowa caucuses the world will hear it and the world will be stunned because the United States of America, despised by so many, for lording it over the world these days, for dictating regional solutions by virtue of our military power will be saying, 'No more.' No more of invading countries. No more dictating a war-Americana. No more, 'our way or the highway.' No more Bush doctrine. No more Bush."

Then Matthews then went even further, during live coverage of the caucus vote on January 3:

"If he [Obama] wins tonight, that's the shot heard 'round the world. This is Lexington and Concord with the target being not King George but President George this time."
"There's no way to read it except as a rebuke to President Bush....I think the world will be very happy to hear this."

"He's a man of the world....You know, I'll bet there's not a Peace Corps volunteer in the country who served in the Peace Corps in the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s or recently that won't vote for this guy. He is so emblematic of our attempt, I think, to rejoin the world."

Matthews' NBC colleague Meredith Vieira, on the January 2, 2008 Today show, spoke up for Obama's competition in her interview with Hillary Clinton:

VIEIRA: Her every word and move is caught on tape and while her critics assail Clinton as overly calculating, up close the Senator and former First Lady is natural, confident and warm.

VIEIRA TO CLINTON: Who are you, Hillary, at your core? At your very core, who are you and why do you believe that you would be a good president? Why do you even want to be President?

Following her interview with Clinton, Vieira continued in her praise of the former First Lady with Matt Lauer:

VIEIRA: You know she actually got very emotional, her eyes started to tear up when she was talking about that and she said, which I didn't remember, you may know this, but as a little kid she wrote NASA. She wanted to be an astronaut.

MATT LAUER: Yeah, right.

VIEIRA: And they wrote back and said, "We don't take girls." And there were schools she couldn't go to and jobs she couldn't get as a woman. So she appreciates the historic quality of what's happening right now...

VIEIRA: And she's excellent, one-on-one with people. You know she has the image of being very cold and calculating but she's great one-on-one. I actually took my son Ben, who's a freshman in college, and wants to be president. He told her that and they sat and talked for the longest time and it was very genuine. I think she relates a lot to young people. She has a daughter, you know, who's young so I think she really connects to young people. And the weather, I think is gonna be a big factor for tomorrow.

Then, later that evening on the same network, Andrea Mitchell, on NBC Nightly News, played up Obama's appeal among so-called Republicans:

MITCHELL: All the candidates are relying on ground troops, precinct captains like Monica Green, a lifelong Republican, who twice voted for George Bush, now canvassing for Obama.

WOMAN, RESPONDING TO OBAMA CAPTAIN MONICA GREEN: We haven't fully decided. I think my husband will probably be John Edwards, and I am split, either Edwards or Obama.

MITCHELL, TO GREEN: What do your kids say to you?

MONICA GREEN, IOWA PRECINCT CAPTAIN: In the beginning, they would call me and say, "Who are you? You raised us to be Republicans. I don't understand." And I just keep saying, "Look at the problems in the world, and look at who you think is going to be able to solve these problems?"

A few days after Obama's win in Iowa it was the New York Times' chance to swoon as Michael Powell, in the January 5 edition of the newspaper, gushed:

"There is no getting around it, this man who emerged triumphant from the Iowa caucuses is something unusual in American politics. He has that close-cropped hair and the high-school-smooth face with that deep saxophone of a voice. His borrowings, rhetorical and intellectual, are dizzying. One minute he recalls the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his pacing and aching, staccato repetitions. The next minute he is updating John F. Kennedy with his 'Ask not what America can do for you' riff on idealism and hope....Such words mine a vein of American history that leaves more than a few listeners misty-eyed."