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Inauguration Notebook: CNN’s Bird’s-Eye View

Jan 20, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Obama Team Takes Over White House Web Site
It didn’t take long for the White House Web page to switch from one president to the next.
By 12:10 p.m., minutes after Barack Obama took office as president, the Bush administration Web page was replaced with a new one. Less than three minutes later, it had its first blog post.
“Welcome to the new WhiteHouse.gov,” says the new Web page. “Change has come to America.”
The new Web page also promises that WhiteHouse.gov “will be a central part of President Obama’s pledge to make his the most transparent and accountable administration in American history.”
The blog was posted by Macon Phillips, the director of new media for the new administration.
“Millions of Americans have powered President Obama’s journey to the White House, many taking advantage of the Internet to play a role in shaping our country’s future. WhiteHouse.gov is just the beginning of the new administration’s efforts to expand and deepen this online engagement,” he wrote.
He said that the site will be used to offer information, transparency and participation. The post also asked for suggestions on how to use Whitehouse.gov.
—Ira Teinowitz
Inauguration
CNN’s Satellite View of Inauguration
Space is the final frontier—at least in inauguration coverage.
Not only did President Barack Obama mention science in his inauguration speech, but CNN was planning to air a picture from a space camera of the large inaugural crowd that filled the National Mall.
CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer told viewers today that the cable channel had ordered up a satellite image from GeoEye 6.
“We’re going to turn that picture around as quickly as we can, and you’re going to see what this would look like if you were flying overhead from space,” Mr. Blitzer told fellow anchor Anderson Cooper on the air.
There was no immediate word if a picture from space would capture more than a thousand words.
— Ira Teinowitz
Magic Makes the Rounds
In addition to the TV news regulars such as Obama advisor David Axelrod making the rounds, ABC had Earvin “Magic” Johnson stop by.
Mr. Johnson, in an interview with ABC senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper, volunteered to attend any White House “pick up” basketball game—but said he would only take it easy on the president on one condition.
“I will only take it easy if he takes it easy on my taxes,” he said.
— Ira Teinowitz
Watching Whenever, However We Want
The inauguration may have have been a big day for TV and cable coverage, but it also was a big day for Web viewing and perhaps cell phone video.
It’s still too early to say how big, but CNN said that as of 1 p.m. it had streamed 18.8 million live video streams globally, more than tripling the record-setting 5.3 million live streams it served on Election Day. Some of that came from the content CNN provides Facebook. At its peak, near the time of the swearing in, CNN streamed 1.3 million streams at once.
Stock analyst Rich Greenfield of Pali Equity Research in a client note called the number “a watershed event.”
“Live TV shifted from a passive to a social/interactive experience and underscored the power of the Internet to deliver video programming to a massive number of users simultaneously,” Mr. Greenfield wrote. He warned that long-term, the numbers and some of the comments from users should cause traditional video providers—broadcasters and cable systems—how they operate in a world where content is available over the Web.
The inauguration was available from multiple sources and on multiple platforms.
MobiTV offered live coverage from ABC News, CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox News and MSNBC on its mobile service.
On the Web, the inauguration also aired on sites as diverse as Major League Baseball’s mlb.com and MySpace, which streamed the inauguration on its MySpace Impact Web site. MLB said tens of thousands of people watched the inauguration on its site.
—Ira Teinowitz
Read Her Lips
Covering an inauguration is part being there, part language, part trenchant analysis and, as Fox host Chris Wallace learned today, part lip-reading.
As part of a discussion about President Obama’s speech and the first African-American president, Mr. Wallace noted President Obama got a key supportive review from his daughter after he delivered his speech.
“I am not the best of lip readers, but I could see Malia turned to her dad and said, ‘That was a good speech.’ So, the one who said it better be good, she gave him the only review that really counts,” he said.
Fox, which has drawn criticism from some Democratic activists during the campaign, was complimentary to President Obama during its coverage.
“You’ve got to feel like you are walking through the door and you don’t know what lies before you,” said commentator Juan Williams. “My gosh, no one has walked through this door the way Barack Obama walked through it today in terms of all that history.”
Britt Hume called the speech “marvelously eloquent.”
—Ira Teinowitz
Juan Williams also had one of the day’s most poignant moments.
He was brought near tears by the presence of the Rev. Joseph Lowery, Martin Luther King’s civil rights colleague, delivering the benediction of the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president. He said Rev. Lowery symbolized how far the country has come since the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.
The audio captures it best, but his words are very effective as well.
“When I heard Rev. Lowery at the very end, he began his prayer with, ‘Lift every voice and sing.’ I just felt so emotional. You know, the thought that that guy, Joe Lowery, he is the real deal. There are other people who might say that they were there with Dr. King, and suffered the indignities, but Joe Lowery really did.
“And for Joe Lowery today, to see that ‘son,’ that black man, ‘boy,’ become president of the United States, I can’t tell you. There are some times in your life that you just think, ‘What a country.’ How could it be? I never thought that would happen. But there it was, and I just thank God that Joe Lowery was able, in that moment, to talk about the power of silent tears, of where our fathers have tried. … Obama picked up on that, people who have toiled and people who have borne the lash, and here he was, understanding those sacrifices of the past and how it’s come to this glorious moment.”
—Ira Teinowitz
(2:30 p.m.: Added sixth item)

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