The coincidence of the nation’s first black president being inaugurated for the second time on the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday Monday did not go unnoticed by pundits. Neither did President Obama’s delivery of what some called the most inclusive inaugural speech ever.
How they interpreted that speech depended on the lens through which they viewed it.
CNN pundit David Gergen called it “one of the most important Barack Obama has given as president,” calling it a “declaration of conscience.”
On MSNBC, Chuck Todd said the president was attempting to mainstream “the liberal-progressive” agenda the way Ronald Reagan did the conservative one.
Chris Wallace of Fox News Channel did not hear mainstreaming. Wallace said Obama’s plan “appears to be, ‘Let’s jam it down their throats.’ “
Given Fox’s political orientation, the criticism was not so surprising. In fact, satirist Andy Borowitz wrote a piece for the New Yorker over the weekend saying that Fox News Channel planned to shut down for what it called “routine maintenance” Monday morning at 11:30 ET, broadcasting “a continuous photomontage of white people” during the 12-hour shutdown. Some on social media and at least one website, Loop21, reported the joke as straight news.
African American-oriented cable networks BET and TV One covered the inaugural speech live and emphasized the event’s significance for African Americans.
Many of them no doubt felt the way Eugene Robinson did at the Washington Post. “Reaction to the address took remarkably little notice of the fact that Obama is an African American,” Robinson wrote. “That seems to be old news.