ABC reports that Republicans are mocking Democrats' columned stage, not that 2004 GOP convention stage also had columns

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

Good Morning America's Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer echoed Republican talking points mocking the stage at Invesco Field in Denver, where Sen. Barack Obama plans to give his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for president, for including a structure with columns. But Roberts and Sawyer failed to mention that the stage at the Republican National Convention in 2004 also included columns.

On the August 28 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, co-hosts Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer echoed Republican talking points mocking the stage at Invesco Field in Denver, where Sen. Barack Obama plans to give his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for president. After Sawyer noted that Republicans were "making fun of" the stage, which includes a structure with columns, Roberts responded by chanting, "Toga! Toga!" Sawyer replied: "You're right. That's what they're saying," and then aired pictures of people in togas, saying the Republicans circulated them. Neither Roberts nor Sawyer noted the Obama campaign response, which included pointing out that the stage at the Republican National Convention in 2004 also included columns.

Also during the broadcast, Roberts described the stage as "transformed with Greek-like columns and something the Republicans, yes, wasted no time in pointing out," and Sawyer did not challenge Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty when he said in an interview that the stage had a "Roman-like façade" without much substance behind it, and that Obama wanted to appear " 'emperor-like' in the setting." At no point did either Roberts or Sawyer note that the stage at the RNC in 2004 had a columned backdrop, as highlighted by Ben Smith in an August 27 post on his Politico blog, which the Obama campaign reportedly circulated. Smith wrote, "Republicans who are mocking Obama's appearance haven't mentioned it, but George W. Bush accepted his own nomination in 2004 on a set with a similar neoclassical theme, with columns rising on either side of him," illustrated with these photographs:

Bush 2004 speech

Bush 2004 speech

On the August 28 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski mentioned that "the McCain campaign calls the look at Invesco Field, 'The Temple of Obama,' " and asked Obama communications director Robert Gibbs how he would respond to "ridicule from Republicans, because it's setting up Obama on this stage with these columns around him." Gibbs pulled out a cellular phone, showed Brzezinski and co-host Joe Scarborough the picture of Bush standing before the RNC's columned backdrop in 2004, and asked: "Can you guys see this?" Brzezinski replied: "That's George Bush."

From the August 28 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:

ROBERTS: Today, he'll accept the nomination on this field, and he surprised a lot folks by being there last night after Joe Biden spoke, and then after that, Barack Obama came here to Invesco Field to have a little run-through.

SAWYER: Yes, get a sense of this high-pressure arena for tonight's speech. Now, what is the McCain camp reaction to all of this? Well, one thing, they're making fun of it. We've seen them do that before.

ROBERTS: Toga! Toga!

SAWYER: That's right.

ROBERTS: That's what they're doing.

SAWYER: That's what they're saying. And also, they've been sending out togas, in fact. Do we have those pictures that they've been sending out? Yes, saying that they're laughing at the columns up there on stage. But, on a serious front, there are also rumors abounding that McCain is going to announce his vice-presidential --

ROBERTS: That's what we're hearing.

SAWYER: -- choice as early as tomorrow morning.

[...]

SAWYER: In any sense, do -- does the McCain camp think, "Well, gee, we envy the enthusiasm of 70,000 people in an arena like this"?

PAWLENTY: Well, I think it just feeds right into what Americans are starting to realize, that this is really about celebrity and not much substance. This Roman-like façade, or façade with Roman columns, is a perfect metaphor or icon for the point that it's an interesting production, but behind it, there's not much there. And so, you know, it's almost like he wants to come out and be -- somebody called it the other day -- "emperor-like" in the setting, at least the façade. So, I think it feeds into the big hoopla, the big production. It's about celebrity, it's about entertainment, but as with the façade, there's not much behind it.

SAWYER: Well, thank you again for giving the McCain point of view this morning.

[...]

ROBERTS: It doesn't resemble anything like a gridiron behind us. It has been completely transformed with Greek-like columns and something the Republicans, yes, wasted no time in pointing out. I took a sneak peek on Wednesday, a rather noisy sneak peek, and ran into, oh, a lot of folks.

From the August 28 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

BRZEZINSKI: You know the McCain campaign calls the look at Invesco Field, "The Temple of Obama." Let's just bring in Obama campaign manager [sic] Robert Gibbs. Robert, talk to me about the setup here, please --

GIBBS: Sure.

BRZEZINSKI: -- because it's already taking a lot of ridicule from Republicans because it's setting up Obama on this stage with these columns around him. How do you counter that?

GIBBS: (Holding up cellular phone) Can you guys -- can you see this? Can somebody see this?

BRZEZINSKI: What is that?

GIBBS: Can you guys see this?

BRZEZINSKI: What is it?

GIBBS: Can you see this?

SCARBOROUGH: Here, flatten it out a little bit.

GIBBS: Can you pass it out?

BRZEZINSKI: Uh-huh.

GIBBS: Here, hold on. Let me --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hurry, quick. Read the messages.

SCARBOROUGH: Let's see.

GIBBS: Can you see this?

BRZEZINSKI: George Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grab it and read the messages.

GIBBS: Here, actually -- yeah, don't read the messages.

BRZEZINSKI: Let the camera go in.

SCARBOROUGH: Right here. Camera, come in on it.

BRZESINSKI: Right in here.

GIBBS: Come in, right in there, as close as you can get. Keep going. Keep going.

BRZEZINSKI: Keep going. Come on in.

GIBBS: There it is. Keep going. You see --

BRZESINSKI: That's George Bush.

GIBBS: If you see that, that's George Bush, and I don't know if we borrowed those columns from him, but that would be his -- that would be his acceptance speech in 2004 at the GOP convention.

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