Inauguration 2013: Media Could Be Shut Out Second Time Around


There are rumors that President Obama’s second inauguration could be closed to the press, and people are not happy about it.

Because inauguration day falls on a Sunday this year, the official swearing in will be held in a small, private ceremony. There will be a second, “symbolic” swearing in the next day. M(more symbolic than the “official” one already is). 

The use of the word “private” struck fear in the hearts of reporters.

“Call me shell-shocked. I’m stunned that this is even an issue; it boggles the mind,” POLITICO quoted NBC News White House correspondent Chuck Todd as saying. “This is not their oath, this is the constitutional oath. It’s not for them. It’s for the public, the citizens of the United Sates. It just boggles the mind — How is this even a debate?”

I was at President Obama’s first inauguration. It was awesome. Usually, standing in the freezing cold for hours and hours, in a crowd so huge that finding a bathroom was an epic feat, wouldn’t be my idea of a good time. But it was part of history; you could see on the faces of the people there that everyone knew they were part of something big. Parents held kids on their shoulders so they could soak in the moment, old women cried.

There’s no way round two is going to measure up.

It almost seems unnecessary to even have a second swearing in. He already took the oath of office and there’s no break between the two terms, so isn’t he still under oath? The second inauguration is purely symbolic; a show of the president’s continued and renewed commitment to his duty. 

In the insanely fast news cycle we live in now, the second swearing in will, of course, garner tons of media attention, symbolic or not. But while I’m pretty much always in favor of more press access than less, not getting to see Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts go through the motions of a second swearing in doesn’t seem like the biggest threat to press freedom out there.

I can see why any limitation on press access would get people in a tizzy, just on principle. But I think we'll make it through this one.