“At this hour, my friend, democracy has prevailed,” President Joe Biden remarked in the early moments of his inaugural address on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.
Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace gave perhaps the most glowing praise possible, saying, “We must end this uncivil war, and the way we can do it is if we show each other a little tolerance and humility. Martha [MacCallum], I thought it was a great speech. I’ve been listening to these inaugural addresses since 1961, John F. Kennedy ‘ask not.’ I thought this was the best inaugural address I ever heard.”
Wallace also highlighted a line from the address that his profession should perhaps heed: “Whether it’s us on the air, on cable or broadcast, whether it’s us on social media, on our Twitter accounts: understanding that we have to deal from facts, from the truth.”
Wallace’s colleague Karl Rove said that it was “a heartfelt appeal for unity” and “authentically Joe Biden.”
Echoing Wallace, CBS’ Margaret Brennan highlighted Biden’s comment about “truth,” saying, “I think particularly for all of us as journalists, it was resonant to hear the president say, this is about defending the truth and defeating the lies. Reminding us about responsibility in that.”
Brennan’s colleague Norah O’Donnell added, “His aides promised a speech and a presidency that he would focus on healing, this speech was the first step in that.”
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos called Biden’s address, “Powerful, personal, emotional at times, and delivered with command.” He added: “the new president called Americans to empathy and action. he noted those events of two weeks ago, the siege of the capitol, noted that our democracy is fragile, is precious, but it has prevailed.”
ABC contributor Yvette Simpson highlighted 22-year old National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, who read the poem The Hill We Climb at the ceremony, and garnered rave reviews: “I do want to echo that young woman, Amanda Gorman, who reminds us America’s best secret: black women are magic, we are brilliant, we are special, we are beautiful, we are amazing, and she will go down in history. I think she did steal the day.”
CNN’s Abby Phillip, a fellow Black woman, remarked: “It was not an ideological wish list. It was not a partisan speech. It was an invitation not just to reach across the aisle, but to get back on track,” adding, “It was an invitation to decency, to civility and it was about the core foundation of democracy and not so much about politics.”
Phillip’s colleague Bianna Golodryga noted everyone on stage wearing masks: “It’s a symbolic message for the country and the world: America has embraced reality and science,” she said.
NBC’s Savannah Guthrie noted that the president wants to turn the page, highlighting the line from his address: “We must end this uncivil war.”
“And on the steps of the capitol and with allusions to Abraham Lincoln, that is not a throw away line, especially when there was an insurrection at the capitol,” said Guthrie. “He said, ‘this is America’s day. This is democracy’s day and democracy has prevailed.’ He clearly feels that above all, unity is the business and the mission of this presidency.”
Andrea Mitchell added: “The ceremony and speech were really important and optimistic, hopeful but confronting. Right at the beginning, the new president spoke of the insurrection, spoke of the riot. He talked about democracy being tested, America has been tested. And, we have prevailed. Democracy and justice have prevailed. He confronted that reality, he was not hiding from it.”
Brian Williams, who co-anchored MSNBC’s coverage, remarked: “The world just heard the new American president declare democracy is precious, democracy is fragile, democracy has prevailed. Thirty-two minutes ago while Joe Biden spoke, the power of the presidency slipped from the grasp of a twice-impeached private citizen in Florida. Joe Biden left no doubt he is here to serve all Americans. He gave the kind of inaugural address our presidents used to give as hopeful as the man delivering it, yet, an honest reflection of a great country at its modern day, low point be set by two viruses, one, a pandemic, the other, a sickness that has flowed into our politics.”