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CBS Boosts Obama's MLK Anniversary Speech With Highlight Reel from Past Speeches

Wednesday's CBS This Morning shamelessly promoted President Obama's upcoming address commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's 1963 "I have a dream" speech by featuring nothing but race-related clips from the President's past speeches. Jeff Pegues hyped the "big names" set to speak at the anniversary celebration, but underlined "the headliner: the nation's first black president, delivering a speech and standing where Dr. King did half a century ago."

Pegues also hyped how the President's July 2013 remarks about Trayvon Martin were "surprisingly revealing", and played up how the Democratic executive has "walked a fine line addressing the issue of race and equality, trying to voice the concerns of African-Americans while attempting to avoid alienating whites." [audio clips available here; video below]

Anchor Gayle King introduced the correspondent's report by noting the results of a new CBS News poll – that "57 percent of people now describe race relations as generally good. In 2009, that number was 66 percent – nearly ten points higher. When asked if they've ever felt discriminated against because of race, 62 percent of blacks says (sic) yes, compared to only 29 percent of whites. "

Pegues wasted little time before using his hyperbolic language about the "big names" and "headliner" line about the 50th anniversary event. He continued by playing his first of five soundbites from the President, noting that "Obama told a group of college students the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lives on."

The CBS journalist would gone on to highlight two clips from the incumbent's 2011 speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, where he berated his black critics to "stop complaining; stop grumbling; stop crying." Pegues also zeroed in on the President's second inaugural address, outlining that "kicked off his second term by calling for an expansion of the civil rights movement to include women, gays, and lesbians."

Near the end of the segment, the correspondent played up how "he's [Obama] been more willing to talk about the state of race relations. On the heels of the George Zimmerman acquittal, his comments about Trayvon Martin were surprisingly revealing."

Just over a month earlier, the CBS morning show gushed over the same comments about Trayvon Martin. Substitute anchors Maurice DuBois and Vinita Nair heralded the President's comments: "This was really a historic speech, in the sense that he also got very personal and said, this could have been me 35 years ago." DuBois and Nair also brought on liberal historian Douglas Brinkley to praise the liberal politician.

The full transcript of Jeff Pegues' report from Wednesday's CBS This Morning:

GAYLE KING: More than four and a half years into Barack Obama's presidency, race relations in America seemed to be on the decline. In a CBS News poll, 57 percent of people now describe race relations as generally good. In 2009, that number was 66 percent – nearly ten points higher. When asked if they've ever felt discriminated against because of race, 62 percent of blacks says (sic) yes, compared to only 29 percent of whites.

[CBS News Graphic: "Race Relations In U.S.; Generally Good: Now, 57%; 2009, 66%; Have Felt Discriminated Against: Blacks, 62%; Whites, 29%; Source: CBS News Poll: Margin of Error: +/- 3% Pts."]

We're seeing those poll numbers on the 50th anniversary of the historic march on Washington on this day back in 1963. Two hundred fifty thousand people packed the National Mall, as Martin Luther King, Jr. and others called for racial and economic justice. Later today, President Obama will lead the official celebration of today's anniversary.

Jeff Pegues is at the Lincoln Memorial. Jeff, good morning to you.

JEFF PEGUES: Good morning, Gayle, and as you noted, a quarter of a million people watched that speech here 50 years ago. The crowds today not expected to be that big, but there will be some big names delivering speeches out here – Oprah Winfrey, former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, just to name a few. But of course, the headliner: the nation's first black president, delivering a speech and standing where Dr. King did half a century ago.

[CBS News Graphic: "President's Fine Line: Obama Marks Historic March By Speaking On Race"]

PEGUES (voice-over): Just last week, President Obama told a group of college students the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lives on.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We've made enormous strides. I'm a testament to it; you're a testament to it. The diversity of this room and – you know, the students who are here is (sic) a testimony to it.

PEGUES: But the President has walked a fine line addressing the issue of race and equality, trying to voice the concerns of African-Americans while attempting to avoid alienating whites. He's been criticized by black leaders for not doing enough to help his own community. At times, President Obama has pushed back.

OBAMA (from 2011 speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation): I expect all of you to march with me and press on.

PEGUES: Like in 2011, while speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus.

OBAMA: Put on your marching shoes – shake it off; stop complaining; stop grumbling; stop crying. We are going to press on.

PEGUES: In January, he kicked off his second term by calling for an expansion of the civil rights movement to include women, gays, and lesbians.

OBAMA (from January 2013 inaugural address): For our journey is not complete until our wives our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. (audience applauds) Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.

PEGUES: And just in the last month, he's been more willing to talk about the state of race relations. On the heels of the George Zimmerman acquittal, his comments about Trayvon Martin were surprisingly revealing.

OBAMA (from July 2013 press conference): Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. There are very few African-American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store – that includes me.

PEGUES (on-camera): And so, the President will be here today. And in a radio interview with host Tom Joyner, the President calls Dr. King's speech one of the five greatest in American history. Gayle, Anthony?

ANTHONY MASON: Jeff Pegues – thanks, Jeff.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.