London's Daily Mail claims the cost of Obama's inauguration is approaching $160 million:
By the time the final dance has been held at one of the many inaugural balls the costs for the day will be a staggering £110m.
Not surprisingly, the newspaper provides no attribution for the figure. (The actual cost is closer to $40 million.) But that doesn't matter because Drudge has linked to the Daily Mail's report and we're sure reporters are on the phone as we speak.
Drudge today also linked to an article I wrote at Salon four years ago chastising the press for not asking questions about the cost of the Bush 2005 inauguration ($40 million), which at the time shattered all the spending records and occurred at a time when the war in Iraq was still front-and-center. (Although it cost roughly the same, Bush's bash attracted just a fraction of the crowd expected for Obama's swearing in.)
Drudge claims my article captured the "lefty outrage" at the cost of Bush's 2005 celebration. In truth, a strong majority of Americans (66 percent, including 46 percent of Republicans) thought that, in light of the fresh fighting in Iraq, Bush's inauguration should have been more "subdued."
But thanks for the link anyway Matt, I'm sure Salon appreciates the traffic.
FYI, the $40 million figure for the Bush and Obama inaugurations is in reference to the cost of the swearing in and the activities surrounding that. The extra cost of state and federal security is not traditionally included in media references to the final tab for inaugurations. In the case of Bush in 2005, the cost of security added tens of millions of dollars on top of the final $40 million figure. The same will be true for Obama this year.
UPDATE: Not surprisingly, fact-free warbloggers like Jawa Report are falling for the phony report that Obama's inauguration will cost two or three times what Bush's did in 2005.