American Elephants

Obama To Have a ‘Private’ Oath of Office, Closed to the Press? by The Elephant's Child

How long can President Obama continue to slight the press before the media has, um, an awakening? The latest fuss is about the inaugural committee’s indication to reporters that the president’s official swearing-in ceremony on January 20, could potentially be closed to the press. Well, few things get the press aroused more than being shut out.

Since January 20 falls on a Sunday in 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the official oath of office in a private ceremony that day. The public inauguration on the Capitol Building’s West Front — at which Roberts will administer a second, symbolic oath of office — will take place the next day. White House photographer Pete Souza would supply “official” photographs to the press. Past Sunday inaugurations have been open to the press.

Both the White House and the inaugural committee note that “private” simply means the event is not open to the public and that press arrangements have not been formalized.

The president will accept unlimited corporate donations for his inauguration in January. There are no legal limits for inauguration donations, but four years ago, the president capped all contributions at $50,000 and barred companies from contributing any money. But the president and his team just wrapped up the most expensive campaign in history—with costs topping $1 billion —and their donors are simply tapped out.

Once again, Obama has not exactly followed through on his vow to run a more transparent administration. It is far past the time when the press should start to call him out on it. There is little indication that the media will finally start to do its job and report critically on his presidency.

The inaugural ceremony is not a private thing for the president and his friends. It is a public affirmation for the American people, evidencing the oath the president takes: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”



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