17 January 2009

Pomp and Circumstance Now Sanctioned by the Networks

Watch out Tuesday; too much syrup will ruin your television:
The news media are giddy with excitement as Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day approaches but it would be a mistake to think reporters are always so worshipful of new presidents. While most presidents do start with a media honeymoon, a review of the past 20 years finds reporters are more celebratory when Democrats are taking over the White House, while coverage of GOP inaugurals has included a fair number of anti-conservative stinkbombs.

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 will cost $45 million.)

The day before Bush’s swearing-in, ABC’s Web site pleaded for tips of “any military funerals for Iraq war casualties scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 20.” Sure enough, then-ABC anchor Peter Jennings got his wish to report how “just about the time the president was speaking, there was a funeral for a young Marine reservist: 21-year-old Matthew Holloway was killed in Iraq last week by a roadside bomb.” Don’t look for the networks to use such tactics to sour Obama’s celebration.
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