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Monday, January 19, 2009
MRC, Newsmax Promote False Meme on Inauguration Costs
Topic: Media Research Center

Whenever there's a chance to show Barack Obama in a bad light -- no matter how bogus the claim might be -- the ConWeb will be sure to pounce on it.

Case in point: Inauguration costs.

Here's a Jan. 15 Newsmax article by Jim Meyers:

Despite the recession, Barack Obama’s inauguration will be the most expensive ever and could approach $160 million — nearly four times what George Bush’s inauguration cost four years ago. 

Rich Noyes, Jan. 14 NewsBusters post and Jan. 15 MRC CyberAlert item:


Four years ago, the Associated Press and others in the press suggested it was in poor taste for Republicans to spend $40 million on President Bush’s inauguration. AP writer Will Lester calculated the impact that kind of money would have on armoring Humvees in Iraq, helping victims of the tsunami, or paying down the deficit. Lester thought the party should be cancelled: “The questions have come from Bush supporters and opponents: Do we need to spend this money on what seems so extravagant?”

Fast forward to 2009. The nation is still at war (two wars, in fact), and now also faces the prospect of a severe recession and federal budget deficits topping $1 trillion as far as the eye can see. With Barack Obama’s inauguration estimated to cost $45 million (not counting the millions more that government will have to pay for security), is the Associated Press once again tsk-tsking the high dollar cost?

Brent Bozell, on the Jan. 16 edition of Fox & Friends:

According to the Guardian newspaper, he could spend as much as $150 million. That would be three times more than George Bush spent. ... In other words, it's a wonderful thing to spend $150 million if you're Barack Obama, but you need to be condemned if you spend $43 [million] and you're George Bush.

Jan. 15 MRC "Media Reality Check" by Rich Noyes, as posted on NewsBusters:

Bush’s second inaugural was met with far more hostility, with reporters attacking the $40 million price tag as obscene. “In a time of war and natural disaster, is it time for a lavish celebration?” ABC’s Terry Moran doubted. The AP’s Will Lester calculated that the money spent on Bush’s inaugural could vaccinate “22 million children in regions devastated by the tsunami....Do we need to spend this money on what seems so extravagant?” (Obama’s inaugural committee will spend $45 million, but the total price tag could exceed $150 million.)

But there are two problems with the comparison being made, as Eric Boehlert details. Not only is the $150 million figure never authoritatively sourced to anyone, it's an apples-to-oranges comparison because the higher Obama number includes security costs while the lower Bush number does not.

Indeed, the Washington Post reported in January 2005 that the $40 million spent on Bush's second inaugural "does not include the cost of a web of security, including everything from 7,000 troops to volunteer police officers from far away, to some of the most sophisticated detection and protection equipment."

The MRC, at least, is making no efforts at correction -- in fact, it's taking credit for promoting it. A Jan. 18 NewsBusters post by Noel Sheppard pushes the idea that the Associated Press was inspired (or shamed) by the MRC's Noyes to publish an article "that not only questioned the rationale behind President Barack Obama spending huge sums of money on his inauguration while the economy is in the middle of the worst recession in decades, but also noted how critical some were four years ago of how much President Bush was spending on his second inauguration." At no point does Sheppard note that, according to that very same AP article, attempts have been made to hold down costs while trying to allow as many people as possible to take part in the activities:

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," said committee spokeswoman Linda Douglass. "It is not a celebration of an election. It is a celebration of our common values."

Douglass said the campaign sought to keep costs down by having the same decorations at each of the 10 balls, eliminating floral arrangements and negotiating prices on food.

"Those at the Obama administration are trying to be reflective of the climate," McDermott's spokesman, Mike DeCeasar, said Saturday.

Still, Sheppard insists that the AP is "applauding Obama's extravagance" -- while providing no actual evidence of "extravagance."

Remember, such false stories and bogus criticism comes while Obama isn't even in office yet. If the ConWeb is this hateful now, imagine the shitstorm they will stir up when Obama actually is president.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:40 AM EST

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