If I had to choose one word to describe the media coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration it would be ‘extraordinary’. But I reserve the right to use that one word over, and over, and over again.
My consumption of Obama-related media coverage was patchy at best, but I could not fail to notice that several reporters left their thesaurus at home. As a result, everything became ‘extraordinary’.
Rahni Satler kicked things off when I tuned into Sunrise. She gave an endearing, breathless account of Obama’s walk up to the White House. She described the scene as ‘extraordinary’ or ‘quite extraordinary’ five times in four minutes. Given that she stood in the cold for a solid six or seven hours, you’d have thought she might have come up with some synonyms.
Beverley O’Connor only made it four minutes into her shift on ABC radio in Melbourne before she informed us the inauguration was “quite an extraordinary scene”. Poor Waleed Aly wasn’t immune from this extraordinary narrowing of the english vernacular, telling us that “to set a [crowd] record in that kind of weather is really extraordinary”.
Still at the ABC, Kim Landers – or possibly a sub – told us of the extraordinary expectations on Obama, while the Geelong Advertiser told us of the extraordinary amount of goodwill which exists for him.
A quick look around the interwebs reveals the international media also struggled. Tim Reid at The Times described Obama’s pause during his oath as “an extraordinary thing”, while The BBC reminisced about “the moment at the Democratic Convention in Boston in 2004 when he first displayed his extraordinary ability to conjure a mood and capture an audience”.
Earlier the Associated Press revealed “an extraordinary number” of people had used Washington’s public transit system on “an extraordinary day in the life of America“. I wonder if the transit system is what Obama used for his “extraordinary journey“, described by the LA Times?
Fox News Anchor Chris Wallace delivered the sad news of the collapse of Senator Kennedy, “one of the very few blemishes in what has been an extraordinary day“. The LA Times managed to whittle that extraordinary day down to an extraordinary moment.
But perhaps the last word should be left for LA Times blogger Andrew Malcolm, who delivered this stirring piece of prose:
“People wanted to see extraordinary. They saw extraordinary. And so it was extraordinary.”