CBS: Obama Inauguration Tickets ‘Almost Impossible to Get’

Thalia Assuras, CBS At the top of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen declared: "...it may be the hottest ticket in the country right now, a ticket to Barack Obama's inauguration in January. Millions are expected to try and watch the swearing in. But we're going to show you why tickets are almost impossible to get." The 2008 April Fool’s edition of the Media Research Center’s Media Reality Check featured a fictional quote from Early Show co-host Harry Smith: "CBS's Harry Smith sounded like a teenage groupie on the April 1 Early Show: ‘Obama's rock star status is reaching historic levels. His rallies attract more fans than a Hannah Montana concert and seats are impossible to get. Believe me I've tried.’"

Chen later introduced a report on the Obama inauguration by proclaiming: "Inauguration fever is sweeping Washington. The city's mayor believes 3-5 million people may turn out to witness President-elect Obama's swearing-in." However, in the report, correspondent Thalia Assuras talked to Howard Gantman of the Joint Congressional Committee for Inauguration, who predicted a much smaller turnout: "We've printed 240,000 tickets. So that's a minimum, we expect at least that many people. For this event, we could see half a million, some projections have come in for a million or more."

Assuras began her report: "It's the moment when the president-elect becomes President of the United States, an historical moment that's quickly becoming the hottest ticket in town." She went on to describe people’s excitement: "From the west coast...to the east coast, thousands of callers are flooding congressional offices with an unprecedented number of requests for free tickets to the swearing-in ceremony." In conclusion, Assuras observed the inauguration was: "...promising to be a great experience for those lucky enough to get a chance to see history in the making."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:01AM TEASE:

JULIE CHEN: Also coming up this morning, well it may be the hottest ticket in the country right now, a ticket to Barack Obama's inauguration in January. Millions are expected to try and watch the swearing in. But we're going to show you why tickets are almost impossible to get.

7:11AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: Inauguration fever is sweeping Washington. The city's mayor believes 3-5 million people may turn out to witness President-elect Obama's swearing-in. CBS News correspondent Thalia Assuras is at the White House with the story. Thalia, good morning.

THALIA ASSURAS: Good morning, Julie. You know, the tickets have been printed but they haven't been handed out yet and demand is so high that some members of Congress are thinking of holding lotteries.

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: I, Franklin Delano Roosevelt-

JOHN KENNEDY: -do solemnly swear-

RONALD REAGAN: -that I will faithfully execute the office-

GEORGE W. BUSH: -of President of the United States.

ASSURAS: It's the moment when the president-elect becomes President of the United States, an historical moment that's quickly becoming the hottest ticket in town.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Office of Congresswoman Laura Sanchez, how may I help you?

ASSURAS: From the west coast-

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We'll be providing tickets through a lottery system.

ASSURAS: -to the east coast, thousands of callers are flooding congressional offices with an unprecedented number of requests for free tickets to the swearing-in ceremony.

BOB ETHERIDGE: It's quite obvious that if people are getting as many requests as we are, D.C. is just going to be wall-to-wall people.

ASSURAS: We tried the D.C. representative only to find out that after thousands of requests, calls aren't being taken anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: So many calls, they were flooding the office and blocking any not inauguration-related calls from getting through.

ASSURAS: And no luck on the website either. No surprise, some congressional offices claim upwards of 50,000 requests. But with only a couple hundred tickets allotted to each member of Congress, more and more offices are saying, 'sorry, can't help you.'

HOWARD GANTMAN: We've printed 240,000 tickets. So that's a minimum, we expect at least that many people. For this event, we could see half a million, some projections have come in for a million or more.

ASSURAS: If you're among the 100,000 people closest to the inauguration, this is where you'll be. If you have ticket number 240,001, this is where you'll be. And if you didn't get a ticket this, is where you'll be. Millions may descend on D.C., so hotel rooms during the festivities are getting rarer and more expensive by the minute. Prices range from $15,000 a night, to $400. So some of the locals-

RAKELLE SUTTON: I have over 600 square feet.

ASSURAS: -are willing to leave their digs and rent to out-of-towners for a pretty penny. How much do you think you can rent this out for? What are you asking?

SUTTON: I'm asking for $800 per night. You know, but I'm hoping that maybe the price will go up a little higher as time goes on.

ASSURAS: And promising to be a great experience for those lucky enough to get a chance to see history in the making. Now, officials are warning, do not buy tickets on-line. The tickets have not been released. So anyone claiming to have some for sale is not telling the truth, Julie.

CHEN: Thalia Assuras outside of the White House, thanks, Thalia.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC