Barack Obama's inaugural organizing committee has struck deals with three television networks to the tune of more than $5 million, giving the networks exclusive access to inaugural events. But the arrangement is prompting questions about the president-elect's efforts to raise money by turning his inauguration into made-for-TV productions.Of course others have shied away. They have a sense of shame. But why anyone is surprised that these people would sell access is beyond me. Everything is for sale with these people. Obama would sell his soiled underwear on eBay if he knew some idiot would buy them (I hope I'm not giving him any ideas here) and I have no doubt people would bid big bucks for them.
All told, Obama's licensing of inaugural events to TV is the most ambitious and expensive in presidential history. Bill Clinton's committee licensed events to HBO and CBS during his first inauguration in 1993, but other presidential committees have generally shied away from selling exclusive rights to official events.
Amazingly, there's still people out there not slurping the Kool-Aid.
"I'm extremely disturbed by it," said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a Washington group that promotes media-ownership diversity. "The Lincoln Memorial has such significance, and to not make [the concert] available to the entire country just seems elitist."I guess they're not showing the proper slavish devotion to The One.
HBO says it is "encouraging" cable and satellite TV providers to make the 100-minute Lincoln Memorial concert, which begins at 2:30 p.m., freely available to all their customers. But cable companies say technical and legal reasons will likely prevent them from doing so everywhere.
In Fairfax and Fredericksburg, for example, Cox will show the program only to people who receive digital-channel service. That leaves out about 40 percent of cable subscribers. Comcast, whose cable systems cover most of the Washington area, says about 75 percent of its subscribers receive digital cable and will be able to see the Lincoln Memorial concert. People who don't receive cable or satellite service -- about 14 million in all nationwide -- will be shut out as well.
HBO spokesman Quentin Schaffer said the concert would be streamed online at HBO.com for those who can't see it. National Public Radio will also carry audio of the event.
The exclusive deals also have riled some in the news media who say the events are of historic importance and thus newsworthy.
A C-SPAN spokesman, John Cardarelli, said the network was told by the inaugural committee that it could not cover the neighborhood ball.
Speaking of slavish devotion, check out this dispatch filed by Obama media aide Jennifer Loven, an alleged journalist.
At Union Station, as Obama set out from Philadelphia, the vanguard of perhaps the greatest crowd in Washington history was beginning to arrive.There are going to be a lot of disillusioned people pretty soon. They've built this guy up into demi-God status and no one person can possibly live up to such ridiculous expectations.
Bursting with enthusiasm, Toni Mateo arrived from Atlanta, where he works at a public relations firm.
"It's going to be life-affirming for me," said Mateo. "It was really important that I come here to represent the family and to take the energy back with me." He said his train car was crowded but quiet — until "I just screamed out `Obama,' and the whole crowd erupted."