That's the question the press ought to be asking. But apparently unwilling, or incapable, to perform actual journalism, lots of reporters and pundits remained fixated on the supposed cost of the Obama bash, which the press excitedly claims will cost $160 million, including security costs.
As Media Matters has been noting for close to a week now, the tab for Bush's second inauguration, after figuring in security costs, totaled $157 million. Yet it's virtually impossible to find a single press report in the last week that has documented that fact. That number does not exist. It has been suppressed and flushed down the memory hole. Because if it's mentioned alongside the Obama tab, than the Obama's-inauguration-is-historically-expensive storyline evaporates. (Because it's not historically expensive.)
But let's move on. The official crowd estimate for Tuesday's swearing now stands as a eye-popping 1.8 million. How many attended Bush's 2005 inauguration? The official estimate was 400,000. So let's do some math. 157 million divided by 400,000 equals 392. It cost nearly $392 per-person to cover the expenses for Bush's modest sized bash.
For Obama? Based on the current projection of $160 million (the final official tab, once security costs are factored in won't be known for months), and divided by 1.8 million people in attendance, the per-person cost for the Obama bash came out to $88.
So we ask again, why was the Bush inauguration so wildy expensive?
Because after (goofy) hyperventilating dispatches like this is from Jon Ward, we're concerned about the health risk.
Apparently at a joint appearance today, Joe Biden made a quick joke at the expense of Chief Justice John Roberts who botched the inauguration oath yesterday, and Barack Obama asked an aide "Are we done"?
Blockbuster stuff, we know. But get a load out of the Times' hysterical, almost parody-like, language [emphasis added] used to describe how the pedestrian events unfolded:
That didn't take long. During his first full day in office, Vice President Joseph Biden made a jarring verbal gaffe, shooting a public dig at the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court that left President Obama grim-faced...
But the new president was not amused by Mr. Biden's crack. As some in the audience drew in breath and gave low "oohs," Mr. Obama stood silently next to Mr. Biden and appeared to just barely shake his head.
It was the most awkward moment in a ceremony full of them, highlighting the new world in which the infant administration now finds itself
Mr. Obama did not know, after finishing his comments on executive orders, what was supposed to happen next, and had to ask for guidance from an aide in the audience.
"Are we done?" he said...
Worst of all, all of it happened as TV cameras were rolling.
Oh the humanity!
P.S. The Times headline: "Biden draws Obama's ire over flubs." Apparently it was the kind of super-secret/invisible "ire" that only Ward could detect.
Watching Dem/media hater Brent Bozell have to play nice, if only for one sentence ("I hope he does well"), during Obama inauguration season was sort of amusing.
Here's Bozell in his more comfortable environment, attacking Inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander for allegedly stoking racist fears.
Two weeks ago, the folks at Media Research Center got worked up over an issue of the Spiderman comic book in which the super hero thwarts a criminal's attempt to disrupt Barack Obama's inauguration. Yesterday, MRC's "CyberAlert" featured three similarly absurd examples of "liberal media bias."
MRC is upset that ABC's David Muir reported that despite the clogged streets in Washington due to an extraordinary influx of visitors, coupled with widespread road closings, "there were no car horns, no shouting." MRC managed to interpret that simple statement that there was a noteworthy lack of audible indications of frustration despite frustrating circumstances as excessive praise for Barack Obama - despite the fact that Muir didn't attribute the lack of horns or shouting to Obama. Under the sarcastic header "And Obama Shall Bring Tranquility to the Land," MRC wrote:
Is there anything President-elect Barack Obama's very aura cannot make better? Apparently, he has eliminated road rage -- and even honking. ABC's David Muir, over video of stuck traffic followed by the sound of singing, in a Monday World News story on the crowds coming to Washington, DC: "So many of the streets are closed those that are open are clogged. But there were no car horns, no shouting. Instead, the San Francisco Boys and Girls choruses practicing for their Inaugural moment on the steps of the Capitol."
Again: Muir didn't attribute the lack of "road rage" to Obama. MRC simply made that up - and this is their second-best example of "liberal media bias."
If that's their second-best, their third-best must be pretty bad. And it is: MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall asked a woman in a crowd what she thinks "this next administration brings to the country." In response, the Santa-hat-wearing woman said "I think they bring diversity. I think they bring a spirit of excellence. I think they bring unity and they bring love. Santa Claus loves them." That's it. That's all that MRC required to declare this exchange its third-worst example of "liberal media bias" -- a live interview with a bystander who makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to her Santa hat.
And at Number 10, Media Research Center whined that a British newspaper interviewed Bruce Springsteen, despite the fact that Springsteen - like the overwhelming majority of Americans - does not much care for former president George W. Bush. Here's MRC:
This past weekend singer Bruce Springsteen got in his last anti-Bush licks as he vented to a British newspaper about how the Bush years have been a "nightmare" in which "thousands and thousands of people died, lives were ruined" because of Bush's policies
Outrageous, isn't it? Bruce Springsteen criticized George W. Bush, and a British newspaper published his comments. And that's one of the best examples of "liberal media bias" MRC could find.
And bingo, Politico claims to have found some on the new White House website. Scoop!
Politico discovered that on "The Agenda" page, which listed 24 policy topics (i.e. defense, disabilities, health care, etc.), there was a subset of "Additional Issues," and within that subcategory was an entry for the topic of "Katrina," and buried under that heading came these two passing sentences:
President Obama swiftly responded to Hurricane Katrina. Citing the Bush Administration's "unconscionable ineptitude" in responding to Hurricane Katrina, then-Senator Obama introduced legislation requiring disaster planners to take into account the specific needs of low-income hurricane victims.
The Politico headline? "New White House site slams Bush," of course. [Emphasis added]
Notes the Los Angeles Times [emphasis added]:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials sometimes let it be known that they stuck with Fox News for their informational needs. And on Tuesday, Fox News returned the favor, even as the rest of Washington remained gripped by Obama fever. Late Tuesday afternoon, Fox News was the only major national TV outlet that carried a live telecast of former President Bush's homecoming speech to cheering supporters in Midland, Texas.
As it continued the media's cavalcade of misinformation about the cost of the Obama inauguration, CNN reported Monday night that this week's swearing-in would likely be "the most expensive inauguration ever." And that with a possible price tag of $160 million, the Obama bash would "easily shatter" inauguration spending records.
Isn't it amazing how, when the press gets a story it wants to tell, that no matter how many times the facts are explained, the press simply ignores the facts and keeps on telling the tale it wants to tell? And make no mistake, this week the Beltway press corps is absolutely wedded to the idea that Obama's inauguration is going to going to rewrite--no, shatter--the inauguration spending records.
Memo to CNN, the only thing shattered this week is the media myth about Obama's supposedly historic inauguration expenses. As we've been pointing out for days, the $160 million figure the media used combined the traditional expenses attached to the swearing-in festivities along with the massive security and logistic costs. (Question: Why, after decades of calculating inauguration costs by always leaving out security costs, has the press decided, for the first time in modern memory, to attach security costs to Obama's tab? Just curious.)
It's a big eye-popping number for sure, and the press fell in love with it in recent days. But is the tab historic, as CNN so breathless claimed? What the clueless CNN reporters and producers don't understand is that when security costs are factored into the cost of Bush's (much smaller) 2005 inauguration, that event cost $157 million.
So again CNN, our question is simple: If Bush's bash cost $157 million and Obama's might cost $160 millio, how does Obama "easily shatter" the spending record?
Personally, we prefer when journalists simply report the facts and stay away from explaining how things "seem." But in its piece about how Fox News "seems" to be poised for a new heights under the Obama administration, the Times just can't help itself [emphasis added]:
But the network is showing no concern about the new administration; if anything, it seems re-energized. With a series of program changes this month, Fox News is doubling down on the programming strategy that has made it the No. 1 cable news network for seven years. Some of the network's prominent conservative hosts seem invigorated about being back on offense.
Also note that reporting on the arrival of Glenn Beck to Fox News from CNN Headlines News, the Times politely declines to mention that Beck spent his time at CNNHL in the ratings cellar. Then again, the Times has always played nice with the ratings-challenged Beck.
Here's the misleading online report from CNNMoney.com'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?
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.
Yahoo! News has taken the bait failing to check on this pathetically easy to rebut piece of conservative misinformation.
In a story headlined, "That's a lot of balloons" Yahoo! News spews hot-air going to great lengths to convince readers that President-elect Obama's inauguration will cost more than triple that of outgoing President Bush's 2004 event even using the nation's economic woes as a backdrop. The article opens:
As the recession continues to wreak havoc on the U.S. economy and inauguration celebrations ramp up, a lot of people are asking: "How much will this shindig cost?" [emphasis added]
The short answer? More than $150 million — and yep, that's the most expensive ever. (By comparison, George W. Bush's 2005 inauguration cost $42.3 million. Bill Clinton managed with $33 million in 1993.)
Perhaps a few more reporters should be asking, "Why haven't I thoroughly fact-checked these numbers?" Because as Media Matters detailed this evening, the whole notion that Obama's inauguration is costing more than Bush's is a load of B.S.
MSNBC's Tamron Hall stated that "the inauguration festivities" for President-elect Barack Obama are "estimated to reach as high as $150 million," while "[i]n 2004, to note, the inauguration of George W. Bush cost roughly $40 million." But the $40 million figure that Hall cited for Bush's second inauguration reportedly does not include security and transportation costs incurred by the federal government and the District of Columbia; these costs are included in the $150 million estimate that the media are reporting for the Obama inauguration.
When the costs incurred by the federal government and the District of Columbia are factored in, the total cost of Bush's 2005 inauguration was reportedly around $157 million, as Media Matters for America senior fellow Eric Boehlert noted.
Come on Yahoo! News, this kind of sloppy "reporting" will only make me want to refer to you as Yahoo? News in future posts. Get it together.