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Harry Smith Makes His NBC News Debut With a Birthday Love Letter to Obama

At the end of Thursday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Harry Smith, formerly of CBS, made his first appearance on the network with a fawning birthday message to President Obama: "Happy birthday, Mr. President. Once upon a time, when you were a young man, all you had to do was show up and teeming throngs of people would gather to cheer you on....They even wrote songs about you." [Audio available here]

Smith then lamented: "As a young person yourself, you were convinced anything was possible. But here you were this week, all by yourself in the Oval Office, signing the debt ceiling bill, looking for all the world like a guy who was chagrined, resigned, fatigued. With all due respect, you look like a guy who is turning 50."




Offering words of encouragement, Smith gushed: "Oh, the culture will tell you 50 is the new 40, Mr. President, but don't be fooled. Gray is okay, bald is beautiful....Some of your contemporaries have found solace in sports cars or motorcycles....But you can skip the mid-life crisis. You've already married up."

Smith concluded the syrupy segment by declaring: "So a little advice from someone who's been down this old road, yoga, it's good for relieving life's aches and pains. And Lord knows, you've been taking a beating. Don't despair, Mr. president. 50 Is a state of mind. It's a moment to assess the doable, to know you are only as old as Congress makes you feel."

After Smith's report, Williams made a point of noting: "I read today that he will still be younger, at 50, than all of the foreseeable [Republican] candidates for president....So there's solace in that."

Leading up to the broadcast, Williams was thrilled to have Smith joining the team, announcing on his 'Daily Nightly' blog on MSNBC.com on Thursday: "It's an exciting night around here because my friend Harry Smith is making his on-air debut here at NBC News." Following the report, Williams praised: "Thanks, useful information, Harry. Welcome, pal. Great to have you."

Smith was famous for his Obama infatuation during his years at CBS, as detailed in the Media Research Center's Profile in Bias on him. In August 2010, when Smith was still co-host of the Early Show, he celebrated the President's 49th birthday by proclaiming that in a recent interview Obama was "full of energy" and "looks like he's still got it together."

Here is a full transcript of Smith's August 4 Nightly News report:

7:24PM ET

BRIAN WILLIAMS: President Obama turned 50 today, an event way too many of us know all too well. His wife, the First Lady, said today, 'He's earning every one of his gray hairs,' but that's nothing. He's just getting started. So we thought what better way to introduce the newest member of the NBC News family, our friend Harry Smith, who's here with an owner's guide, really, to turning a half century old. Harry, welcome.

HARRY SMITH: Brian, good to be here. As of today, President Obama has become a man of a certain age. And along with the concerns of the country, he will have some other things to worry about. Happy birthday, Mr. President. Once upon a time, when you were a young man, all you had to do was show up.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [ANNOUNCER]: The next President of the United States!

SMITH: And teeming throngs of people would gather to cheer you on.

SONG: Nothing's standing in the way.

SMITH: They even wrote songs about you.

SONG: Yes, we can.

SMITH: As a young person yourself, you were convinced anything was possible. But here you were this week, all by yourself in the Oval Office, signing the debt ceiling bill, looking for all the world like a guy who was chagrined, resigned, fatigued. With all due respect, you look like a guy who is turning 50.

DAVE BARRY: You'll never be cool again.

SMITH: Dave Barry is the author of 'I'll Mature When I'm Dead.' He has some sobering news and a tip.

BARRY: Please, Mr. President, whatever you do, keep your pants low. I don't mean – not too low, the way kids do – but don't get them real high. Somehow pants keep going up, up, up, till like when you're 90, they're up around your neck, you know. You don't want to get into that.

SMITH: Oh, the culture will tell you 50 is the new 40, Mr. President, but don't be fooled. Gray is okay, bald is beautiful. And the golf course will become infinitely preferable to the basketball court. When playing golf, you can go to the hole and you don't have to worry about some kid blocking your shot. You'll notice a few other changes, Mr. President, like memory lapses. Soon you'll find it hard to remember people's names and names of places. I like to call it 'proper noun loss.' Others refer to it as a 'senior moment.' Oh, and soon you'll get something in the mail from the AARP, an invitation to join. Do not rip it up in a fit of rage. Look it over. You'll find they have favorable rates on motel rooms and a terrific supplemental insurance policy for Medicare. Mr. President, beware, middle age is fraught with peril. Some of your contemporaries have found solace in sports cars or motorcycles.

JOHN TRAVOLTA [MOVIE, WILD HOGS]: Oh yeah, now this is a biker bar.

SMITH: But you can skip the mid-life crisis. You've already married up. And as for your daughters becoming teenagers, two words – prayer and patience. So a little advice from someone who's been down this old road, yoga, it's good for relieving life's aches and pains. And Lord knows, you've been taking a beating. Don't despair, Mr. president. 50 Is a state of mind. It's a moment to assess the doable, to know you are only as old as Congress makes you feel.

WILLIAMS: So I know I'm new to this 50 game, so I actually – I found this so helpful. There's a lot you were classy enough not to get into.

SMITH: Well, you know, there are certain medical procedures that everyone in the profession says you must have, including one that involves a tiny little camera...

WILLIAMS: Really?

SMITH: ...that goes to a place that is almost unimaginable.

WILLIAMS: So not one of the cameras that covers the president every day.

SMITH: No, not one of those. And I'm so old I've had it done twice.

WILLIAMS: I – you know, this is exactly where I didn't want to go, except I – one bit of news. I read today that he will still be younger at 50 than all of the foreseeable candidates for president.

SMITH: Who are running right now.

WILLIAMS: So there's solace in that. But thanks, useful information, Harry. Welcome, pal. Great to have you.

SMITH: We're here to help. You bet.

WILLIAMS: Harry Smith with us here tonight.



- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.