Obama’s State of the Union Draws Mixed Reactions From Media

“I think he made a mistake tonight about cable television,” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said

Last Updated: January 20, 2015 @ 9:50 PM

President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address Tuesday night, calling for closing the economic inequality gap, closing Guantanamo Bay, making education more affordable, new trade deals, and increasing the fight against cybersecurity.

Without mentioning the Sony hack or North Korea by name, the president vowed to streamline the fight against cyberattackers.

“No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.”

After the hour-long address ended, media across the spectrum reacted.

“He concluded by saying he was going to be Mr. Congeniality, but before he got there, he pledged four vetoes,” Fox News contributor George Will said after the president’s speech. Another contributor, The Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes, responded to President Obama calling for a “better politics.”

“There’s this sense that I think you see throughout this speech that the president thinks he’s gotten the job done. But the idea that this president can lecture the Congress, lecture the country, about a better politics I find preposterous on its face,” Hayes continued, pointing out the Obama administration had made very abrasive comments about Republican opponents in the past.

On MSNBC, the mood was a little more cheerful.

“It seems to me that the heart of the speech was something that I think that he was addressing to people who voted for him … he talked about the speech that made him a national figure in 2004,” Rachel Maddow said, noting the president said he still thinks the “cynics are wrong” on whether Washington, D.C. could become less polarized.

“I think he made a mistake tonight about cable television,” Chris Matthews said, suggesting a lot of people on MSNBC share the president’s hope for the end of racial division as well as enhanced bipartisanship.”I don’t think it’s fair to say that everybody benefits from division; I think he’s made a mistake on that, and I don’t think he watches a lot of cable television and that’s his call.”

“He also just had a lot of—for lack of a better word— swag [swagger],” Chris Hayes said.

“Obama’s back, Obama’s back…that is the guy in 2008 and 2012,” CNN contributor Van Jones said enthusiastically, noting the president’s economic message was strong. “That is Barack Obama back!”

“I don’t join Van in that enthusiasm,” CNN contributor S.E. Cupp laughingly responded, but did note that the president had a cohesive economic message.

Obama’s former Press Secretary Jay Carney noted his former boss struck a strong sense of nostalgia.

“I was struck that he returned to a lot of the themes that Americans first heard from him in 2004 and again in 2008 and 2012,” he said, sharing he received a text from a non-partisan friend who wrote, “That’s why I voted for him.”

The Huffington Post reacted by presenting an emboldened President Obama.


The New York Post went for short, sweet, and deliberate.


The New York Times focused on Obama and Congress.


And on social media, #YesWeTan exploded on Twitter after The White House posted an image of a tan suit shortly before the speech, leaving folks to think he’d be donning tan.


President Obama spoke for an hour.


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