Dan Gainor

But there’s more to it than just the outlandish cost or hypocrisy. It’s where that money comes from. Sunday’s concert and propaganda extravaganza looked more like the Oscars than Washington. The stage was filled with tons of Hollywood A-listers who are throwing their continued support to the new president in song – and in dollars.

The New York Times stressed back in November that “Obama’s inaugural committee is limiting the amount of donations that it will accept to $50,000, part of his continuing pledge to limit the influence of money in government and a signal that Mr. Obama intends to encourage the public to participate in his inaugural.”

Some limit. As of Jan. 17, 420 people had contributed the $50,000 maximum – totaling $21 million. That’s a vault filled with change. The list reads like a liberal Who’s Who, especially from Hollywood – Sharon Stone, Norman Lear, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Bill and Melinda Gates and George Soros to name just a few.

Where are the media outlets questioning this kind of pay for play arrangement? There aren’t any.

If Obama is such a newsmaking media icon, then these events are news. That means networks share the feed and don’t cut exclusive arrangements to pay the new president for access. At the very least, the media should be doing their jobs and defending public access to the events – the very same thing Obama has promised.

Of course, that won’t happen. Just watch five minutes of inauguration coverage and you’ll know why. This is the same media that gave its full support to Obama during the campaign. Journalists and those in the entertainment media are among Obama’s strongest constituencies. Now they are celebrating right along with the new president.

That is similar to the kind of adulation CNN’s Soledad O’Brien used on her viewers Saturday. O’Brien, described the perfect “metaphor” – that Obama was like the pilot who landed the plane in the Hudson River. The following night, CNBC’s Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood depicted Obama as a combination of John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. “What makes Obama so fascinating is that his story and message contain echoes of all three of those extraordinary leaders Kennedy, Reagan, Roosevelt, not to mention the unifying themes of Abraham Lincoln of Illinois.”

Those aren’t the words of journalists who are going to worry about the details of the inauguration other than to complain about where they get to sit to view their new president.


Dan Gainor

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