After Brian Williams touted President Obama's handshake with Cuban dictator Raul Castro as "one of the better moments" at Tuesday's memorial service for Nelson Mandela, correspondent Lester Holt went further on Wednesday's NBC Today, hailing the encounter as "a true Mandela moment." [Listen to the audio]
A soundbite followed of Democratic Congressman John Lewis gushing: "It's the power of Nelson Mandela to bring President Barack Obama together and Raul Castro together here in South Africa." Prior to Williams on Tuesday, Holt had similarly declared that "the measure of Mandela [was] so great" that "America's presidents shared a stage" with Castro.
In an effort to clean up another controversy for Obama on Wednesday,
Holt proclaimed: "The selfie with the Danish and British leaders hogging
the front pages today, a get-together moment Mandela himself may have
Holt also cheered how Obama's speech at the memorial "resonated powerfully with the audience and the assembled world leaders."
Here is a full transcript of Holt's December 11 report:
MATT LAUER: The body of Nelson Mandela was moved to the South African capitol of Pretoria overnight, where it's now lying in state. And big crowds are lining up to pay their final respects. NBC's Lester Holt is there. Lester, good morning to you.
LESTER HOLT: Matt, good morning. The gorgeous backdrop behind me known as the Union Buildings, it's the seat of power here in South Africa, it sits on Pretoria's highest point. And in front you can see the temporary white shelter around the casket baring the body of Nelson Mandela. The public has been filing by for several hours now as this long farewell continues.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Thousands Pay Final Respects; Throngs Line Up to Say Farewell to Mandela]
HOLT: In the hot sun, thousands line-up this morning for a final glimpse of Mandela and to offer their personal farewells.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN A: It's how I will actually pay my last respects. And then just to honor his memory as well. That's very important to me.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: And thank him in person.
HOLT: The coffin, draped in the national flag, arrived earlier here at the Union Buildings, the same place Mandela was sworn in as the first black president.
NELSON MANDELA: Never, and never again, shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.
HOLT: His body to lie in state for three days. Family and political dignitaries came ahead of the public to have their last moments with the man they shared with the world for so long. Tears flowed freely. A sharp contrast to Tuesday's exuberant memorial celebration of Mandela's life. President Obama's speech...
BARACK OBAMA: Too many of us on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.
HOLT: ...resonated powerfully with the audience and the assembled world leaders. And that handshake with Cuba's president, a true Mandela moment.
REP. JOHN LEWIS [D-GA]: It's the power of Nelson Mandela to bring President Barack Obama together and Raul Castro together here in South Africa.
HOLT: The selfie with the Danish and British leaders hogging the front pages today, a get-together moment Mandela himself may have relished.
Mandela's body will lie in state for three days. Each day his body will be taken by funeral corteges through the streets of Pretoria.
And Matt, before I send it back to you, there's a bit of a controversy involving that memorial service yesterday, and it's specifically about the sign language interrupter. According to the Deaf Federation of South Africa, the head of that organization, he was a fake. He said he was moving his hands but there was no meaning of what he was using his hands for, and a deaf member of parliament here followed up and said that his hand and arm movements communicated absolutely nothing, Matt.
LAUER: That's ridiculous. Lester, thank you very much.