The drastic difference between mainstream media coverage of President Trump’s recent State of the Union address and those delivered by President Barack Obama appears to represent another instance of imbalance.
Praise for the Obama-era addresses was often glowing with positivity. In 2009, then-MSNBC host Keith Olbermann called Obama’s speech “forceful” and “energized,” before tossing it to colleague Rachel Maddow. She, in turn, called the address “a fascinating balance of combative and reconciling.”
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That same evening, Chris Matthews called it a feel-good speech,” asking potential critics, “How do you come out against feeling good?”
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos compared Obama’s 2010 State of the Union to the kind of rousing remarks delivered by The Gipper himself.
“What I saw there is the president not being contrite like Bill Clinton in 1995, much more defiant, more like Ronald Reagan in 1983,” Stephanopoulos said.
Pundit Jon Meachum was also a fan, telling Stephanopoulos that Obama’s address hit the reset button “with a feisty presentation.” Over at CNN, meanwhile, Gloria Borger called the 2010 address “smartly written,” claiming it appealed to everybody.
“It had a little bit of everything in it for every party,” Borger said.
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By 2011, MSNBC’s Matthews was calling Obama’s address “a Jack Kennedy speech,” which is about the highest praise a far-left pundit can offer.
“It wasn`t divisive. It wasn`t combative. It wasn`t social Democratic,” Matthews said of that year’s address. “It was about the country and its capability of meeting historic challenges again and again and again. He was saying, we`ve done it before. We will do it again.”
Obama’s addresses from 2012 through 2016 received similar praise.
But the mainstream media seemed to take a different tack when it came to Trump’s address on Tuesday night, though polling suggested his remarks’ had viewers’ approval.
“The anti-Trump media greeted the president’s speech with snark, sarcasm and outright opposition,” Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor wrote in an opinion piece for Fox News.
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MSNBC’s Brian Williams quickly reminded viewers that people congratulating the president immediately after the speech were Republicans, before scolding Trump for speaking before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a chance to introduce him. The MSNBC panel went on to slam the content of the speech for including “graphic language on abortion.”
CNN’s Van Jones described Trump’s remarks as “a psychotically incoherent speech with cookies and dog poop,” while the network’s Jim Acosta, who has often found himself at odds with the White House, tweeted: “This is Trump doubling down and trolling Dems. Trump will always be Trump.”
And remember how Stephanopoulos compared Obama to Reagan? This time around, the anchor drew parallels between Trump and President Richard Nixon.
The mainstream media also fawned over Pelosi’s clapping, while multiple news organizations employed detailed “fact checks” in challenging Trump’s remarks.