Thursday's coronation of President Bush as a second term president gave American viewers a taste of life in a monarchy. Bob reviews the inauguration coverage on the cable and broadcast networks.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: From WNYC in New York, this is NPR's On the Media. I'm Brook Gladstone.
BOB GARFIELD: And I'm Bob Garfield. The inauguration Thursday was a chance for Americans to experience life -- in a monarchy [MUSIC: GOD SAVE THE QUEEN] [RECORD SCRATCH] -- American style. [MUSIC: HAIL TO THE CHIEF] Though TV news producers appeared to be working off the same shot list they had used for President Reagan's funeral, the anchors were divided on the appropriate tone. Some treated it like the Oscars…
COMMENTATOR: She had on a beautiful white ensemble by Oscar de la Renta.
BOB GARFIELD: Still others, like NBC's Al Roker, a hometown Parade.
AL ROKER: [SHOUTING] How you feeling, Mr. President? You feeling good? [PEOPLE CHEERING, SHOUTING, WHISTLING] Yeah, the weather's good, sir.
BOB GARFIELD: It was easy to miss, but we did notice small pockets of journalism - not on the cable news channels, but in the coverage of Peter, Dan and Brian. Guests included former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, who gave the rare critical commentary on the president's speech, and there was even a piece about the power of Washington lobbyists.
WOMAN: Inaugural week has become a celebration of both democracy and of deep corporate pockets.
BOB GARFIELD: But there was no real news. This was just our quadrennial American coronation. Still, at a real coronation, people do not organize to turn their backs on the queen. At a real coronation, people don't hold up signs saying, "Hitler was democratically elected, too." Despite TV's passion for pomp and ceremony, it was all a little untidy -- in the American style.
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