CNN leaves out all context about Obama's inauguration cost

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Here's the misleading online report from's Catherine Clifford [emphasis added]:

The total cost of the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States will likely top $150 million by the time the galas and streamers and porta-pots are all cleaned up.

Yet another news article detailing the cost of the Obama inauguration, including security costs; costs reporters can't actually confirm. Instead the analysis is built on a projection.

Here's the real problem, though: Where's the context? Meaning, how much did previous inaugurations cost, once security expenses were factored in? The entire point of the CNNMoney article is to highlight how expensive the Obama inauguration is going to be. And readers are certainly left with the impression that the spending is historic and just out of control. But is it?

As Media Matters has been noting for days, if you add in the cost of security for Bush's 2005 inauguration, that event cost $157 million. So why does CNNMoney suggest the Obama tab is so newsworthy?

UPDATE: ABC News does the same thing. It expresses amazement at how expensive the Obama inauguration might be (based largely on security costs), yet makes no reference to the fact that when Bush's inauguration security costs were tabulated his swearing-in cost $157 million.

UPDATE: Great point, made by Washington Monthly reader:

Not to be nitpicky, but when you factor in inflation (via The Inflation Calculator at the Dollar Times website), $157M in 2005 dollars would be $173M in 2008 dollars. So in other words, this inauguration will actually cost less than the last one, from a certain point of view.

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