Dan Gainor

According to President-elect Barack Obama’s latest radio address, this will be “the most open and accessible inauguration in history.”

I guess he forgot to tell his inauguration committee. They have “struck deals with three television networks to the tune of more than $5 million,” according to the Jan. 17 Washington Post.

So much for open government.

Obama hasn’t even taken the oath of office and he’s blocking media outlets that don’t pay. He even shut out C-Span – almost unheard of in Washington. Instead, his inauguration is raking in cash and limiting access to ordinary Americans to help pay for the festivities.

If this were John McCain’s inauguration, the media would be using the Rod Blagojevich  term – “pay for play.” Since it’s Obama, it’s a “celebration.”

And it’s a pricey one at that. In fact, the almost-coronation of Obama could cost up to $150 million and be the most-expensive inauguration in American history. That’s equal to what 3,000 entire households earn in a year and our inaugural committee spends that much in the blink of an eye.

What’s scary is his team doesn’t think that is too much. According to the Associated Press, “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.”

“That is probably not the way the country is going to be looking at it,” committee spokeswoman Linda Douglass told AP. “It is not a celebration of an election. It is a celebration of our common values.

Not all that common. The story went on to report how the committee is “eliminating floral arrangements and negotiating prices on food” to limit costs on the 10 inaugural balls. That’s certainly isn’t how most voters make budget every month.

It’s amazing how hypocritical this all is. Back in 2007 when the NFL network announced the Patriots and Giants game wasn’t going to be seen by people who didn’t have the NFL network, it was a big news story. Congress tried to force showing of the game on regular cable. Seventeen Democrats complained it was exclusionary -- and that was just for a football game. Now the most expensive inauguration in history sells out to its buddies in the media, and that’s OK.

Dan Gainor

Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow and director of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute.