Panicked by the success of Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos" - urging conservatives to vote for Hillary Clinton in upcoming primaries to keep the Democrats in disarray - liberal reporters are becoming even more outspoken in praising the man they regard as the all-but-certain Democratic nominee, Barack Obama.
CBS's Harry Smith sounded like a teenage groupie on the April 1 Early Show: "Obama's rock star status is reaching historic levels. His rallies attract more fans than a Hannah Montana concert and seats are impossible to get. Believe me I've tried." Over on ABC's Good Morning America, correspondent Claire Shipman didn't want either liberal to lose: "Think of the race as a pro wrestling match between Martin Luther King and Eleanor Roosevelt. Whoever loses, it will be America that winds up feeling bruised."
Print reporters are pulling out the stops, too. In his magazine's April 1 edition, Time's Joe Klein likened the Chicago pol to Martin Luther, Jonas Salk and Nelson Mandela (see box). In today's New York Times, columnist Roger Cohen took umbrage at a parody that poked gentle fun at Obama's outsized ears. Cohen insisted big ears are an asset: "Think about it: Would Obama be able to express so brilliantly the yearnings of Americans demoralized, even devastated, by seven-plus years of George W. Bush had he not first heard them?"
Even longtime Clinton sycophants like Newsweek's Eleanor Clift are moving to Obama. "Hillary Clinton is an extraordinary, once-in-a-generation candidate," the feminist Clift announced on the April 1 McLaughlin Group. "But I can't overlook the fact that Barack Obama is the greatest candidate of my lifetime. The Sisterhood is the Sisterhood, but Obama is the Man."
Appearing on CNN's Larry King Live, NBC's Lee Cowan recalled how nervous he was to be assigned to report on Obama. "I wondered, would I be able to do him justice? Would I be able to express the way the edges of his mouth curl up ever so slightly when he laughs? The gentle rise and fall of his chest as he falls asleep on the campaign plane, still radiating that million dollar smile that says, 'You get it, Lee. You're the only one who does.'"
Cowan also confessed: "When I saw that Saturday Night Live skit of the news guy with a 'man crush' on Obama, I was a little jealous to discover I wasn't the only one who felt that way."
On the April 1 Today, NBC's Meredith Vieira seemed as if she was auditioning to be the next Obama girl: "He's so sharp and dignified, he can make any suit look good....He just looks so refined and - oh, I don't know. I'd totally drink his bath water."
Liberal journalists now see Obama as more than either politician or celebrity. After a terminally-ill child appeared on the April 1 Good Morning America, co-hosts Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer led the guests in a short on-air prayer to Obama. "We used to pray to Oprah," Sawyer explained. "Then we heard how Barack healed a leper in Yonkers. Now we know - Obama is the real thing." Barack Obama, A Man for the Ages
But none could top MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who blurted during live coverage of an Obama campaign rally: "A couple of months ago, I said his speeches caused a thrill up my leg. Tonight he was even more impressive - I got a tingle in my shorts."
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