A few days after the Media Research Center marked this incredibly stark contrast in AP attitudes in defining what is "news," AP issued a new story by Matt Apuzzo that acknowledged the contrast between Obama's parties and the economic gloom. Apuzzo reprised the 2005 comments of Reps. Weiner and McDermott, and then passed along that Obama's inauguration committee says it is mindful of the times and is not worried people will see the four days of festivities as excessive.
Former ABC reporter Linda Douglass, the Obama transition spokeswoman, elaborated that Team Obama would "keep costs down by having the same decorations at each of the 10 balls, eliminating floral arrangements and negotiating prices on food." A spokesman for Rep. McDermott saluted Obama's team for "trying to be reflective of the climate." This time, the Politico newspaper reported that former Congressman Tom DeLay suggested Obama could have the simple chicken dinner, but he didn't make this AP story. There were no critical conservatives or Republicans or even Naderite "watchdog groups" to add any vinegar to this attempt by the nation's preeminent wire service to temper their biases.
A few reporters eventually offered a traditional "watchdog group" story. On the morning of Jan. 20, ABC's Brian Ross found the Naderites at Public Citizen and declared, "even in the middle of a brutal recession, there's been no shortage of wealthy Americans ready to pay for the most expensive inaugural ever." (This is hardly as sour a report as ABC's successful search in 2005 for a Iraq-related military funeral that the late Peter Jennings could highlight on the Inauguration Day evening news.)
Aside from the cost, the media treated the Obama inauguration as a historic and inspiring occasion in a president of a different color, a ceiling broken, and the arrival of a new role model for black youth. It certainly was. But once the pomp and parades are over, the media's dramatic double standard in reporting these events -- depending on which party's taking power -- cannot be forgotten.
For the record, the "lavish" Bush inaugural cost $43 million. Final tallies are not complete, but according to some sources, like the Guardian newspaper, the Obama inaugural will cost more than $150 million.
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