"Don't you hate it when you pop a bottle of champagne and it's flat? So, too, with some of these inaugural balls," Washington Post gossip gals Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts alerted their readers in the January 20 edition of "The Reliable Source."
While none of the official PIC balls have been cancelled, the unofficial ones that have been cancelled or are on life support to be the ones geared towards the average Joe Sixpack and to America's military veterans:
If you nabbed a ticket to one of the official balls sponsored by the Presidential Inaugural Committee tonight, you're fine. But some of the other high-profile parties have been canceled or are still scrambling to cut costs and sell last-minute tickets, leaving ballgoers disappointed or out in the cold.
The People's Ball at the Grand Hyatt announced a blue-light special yesterday: Tickets slashed $100 -- to $250! The American Music Ball, hosted by Dionne Warwick, which planned two big-name events at the Marriott Wardman Park, was scrambling to sell enough tickets ($450 for the Legends ball with George Clinton, Chaka Khan and the Temptations; $350 for the Urban ball with Ludacris, Fantasia, and Cedric the Entertainer) for the show to go on -- and it wasn't looking good last night, said sources.
During live coverage of Barack Obama’s inauguration at 9:30AM on Tuesday, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric spoke to historian Douglas Brinkley, who observed: "And it reminds me of Franklin Roosevelt in March of 1933 in this regard, I mean the economy was in tatters, Herbert Hoover was an unpopular president, President Bush is not very popular, and he was able to galvanize people with his speech, FDR, move the nation, you know to have nothing -- you know, to fight for all of the civil rights and to start pushing forward the hundred days of the New Deal. And so you see the echoes of that." On the January 11 Sunday Morning program, Brinkley declared Bush in the "...the very bottom-rung of American Presidents."
Brinkley’s comment was prompted by Couric remarking: "...a confluence of events that will make him perhaps one of the most powerful presidents in history. It's hard to predict an administration and how successful it will be, but he really is starting off things in an enviable position, isn't he?" Later, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer shared his thoughts on that point: "But the interesting thing, Katie, is when we stop and think about it, our greatest presidents have always come to us during the worst of times. If history's any guide, the pieces are in place here for the making of a great president." On Monday’s Early Show, Schieffer compared Obama to Abraham Lincoln.
"Up to this point, there's very much a mirage going on. Barack Obama is what people want him to be. It is not the real thing, yet. He hasn't been tested yet. Once he's tested, then we are going to see the real Barack Obama. I hope he does well," Brent Bozell told the crew of "Fox & Friends" this morning. (audio available here)
The MRC president and NewsBusters publisher braved the cold and heavy inaugural security to appear with FNC's Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade on the roof of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, where he gave some advice to the incoming president, assessed the outgoing chief executive's engagement with the media, and slammed the media for failing to cover President Bush's farewell address.
On the latter:
BRENT BOZELL, MRC President: Let me give you a fascinating statistic. And this is truly, I think, offensive. On Thursday night, George Bush gave his farewell address to the American people. It's the only real public thing he's done.
STEVE DOOCY, "Fox & Friends" co-host: We covered it the next day a lot.
BOZELL: Friday morning, ABC, NBC, CBS, a grand total of 7 hours combined coverage. Guess how much time they gave to George Bush's farewell address, combined? Fifty-eight seconds.
As we prepare to say goodbye to our 43rd President, an important question needs to be asked: will those suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome be cured on Inauguration Day?
As most informed people are aware, BDS was first identified by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer. In his December 5, 2003, Washington Post article, Krauthammer described the malady as "the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency - nay - the very existence of George W. Bush."
Although Krauthammer addressed others in the grips of this pernicious affliction that "generally struck people with previously compromised intellectual immune systems" such as Barbra Streisand, his real concern was for Democrat presidential candidate Howard Dean:
Abandoning any pretense of balance, MSNBC's Inauguration coverage will be quad-anchored by four left-wingers: the network's three night time hosts -- Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow -- plus regular analyst Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. Plugging the team at the end of the 7 PM EST Hardball on Monday night, Matthews trumpeted how “this is one of the great opportunities in journalism to cover history in the face” and declared “it's going to be the honor of our lifetimes.” With a graphic on screen showing pictures of the four and announcing MSNBC's 9:45 AM to 4 PM ET coverage, Matthews trumpeted:
This is one of the great opportunities in journalism to cover history in the face. We're going to see history in the face and when you get up tomorrow morning I recommend you stay tuned all day because I don't think you're going to stop seeing history being made, from the very beginning in the morning. It's going to be our best coverage all day. We're going to end up -- Keith and I and Rachel and Gene Robinson -- it's going to be the honor of our lifetimes to be here on the Washington Mall.
Is there anything President-elect Barack Obama's very aura cannot make better? Apparently, he has eliminated road rage -- and even honking.
ABC's David Muir, over video of stuck traffic followed by the sound of singing, in a Monday World News story on the crowds coming to Washington, DC:
So many of the streets are closed those that are open are clogged. But there were no car horns, no shouting. Instead, the San Francisco Boys and Girls choruses practicing for their Inaugural moment on the steps of the Capitol.
In a 7:43AM commercial break during Monday’s CBS Early Show, the network aired a promo for a new episode of the show ‘Two And A Half Men,’ that used an Obama campaign slogan: "Can CBS show you the funny side of families?...Yes we can." The words appeared on screen in red, white, and blue, soon followed by a flash of the CBS logo in the same colors, looking very similar to Obama’s campaign logo.
At the end of the promo, the screen displayed the cast of the show in red and blue, similar to a famous Obama portrait, with the show title and time. The bottom of the screen declared: "Yes We Can Monday."
Never mind how Barack Obama will magically bring “diversity,” “excellence” and “unity” to America, “Santa Claus” loves the incoming administration. Seconds before 5 PM EST Monday afternoon on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall asked a woman in the crowd around MSNBC's platform on Washington's Mall: “What do you think this next administration brings to the country?” The woman, wearing a Santa Claus hat more than three weeks after Christmas, excitedly replied:
I think they bring diversity. I think they bring a spirit of excellence. I think they bring unity and they bring love. Santa Claus loves them.
You'd think Santa Claus would be jealous of Obama for intruding on his specialty of giving away stuff. But maybe the woman was mixed up and meant to say that Obama is just as great as Santa Claus because she expects to get hand outs from him too.
And the media, 'one of Barack Obama's major constituencies,' don't complain.
The Obama Inauguration Committee sold coverage of inaugural events, effectively limiting the number of Americans who can view them and undercutting Obama’s claims of accessibility, according to Business & Media Institute VP Dan Gainor.
“Barack Obama, in his last radio address before he becomes president says this is going to be the most accessible administration in history,” Gainor said in an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Weekend Live” on Jan. 18. “Well, they’re already proving the lie to that.”
HBO paid $5 million to broadcast Sunday’s concert from the Lincoln Memorial. That meant that only HBO subscribers and the 37 percent of cable customers that have digital cable could watch. The Inauguration committee made a similar arrangement for coverage of a children’s concert scheduled for Monday night. Even C-Span was denied access to the events.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez asked Sunday Morning liberal commentator Nancy Giles about the incoming Obama Administration and Giles could not resist bashing Bush: "Well, Barack Obama's going to have his hands full with a lot of the carnage that was left by the previous administration." Republican strategist Bay Buchanan was seated next to Giles and Giles defended her statement: "I had to put it that way, Bay. It is carnage." Buchanan joked: "I was told it would cease-fire here for two days." Giles replied: "I know, I'm sorry, carnage just slipped out, but I mean, he's going to have his hands full."
Co-host Harry Smith then chimed in, saying to Giles: "I spent the entire afternoon yesterday talking to people, and there were actually very few people who were echoing the sentiments you were echoing...There were some people who were angry and still carrying grudges. But moreover, it was a sense of for the moment, no more Republicans, no more Democrats, we're all on the same page, at least for a moment."
In contrast to her view of Bush’s "carnage," Giles praised Obama: " Barack Obama said something last year that I heard him say about his definition of homeland security and national security. It had to do with making education a real important thing. He felt that educating our young people would make the nation that much more secure. And I love that way of thinking."
In the run-up to Barack Obama's inauguration, the New York Times has run several articles praising the President-elect's "eloquence," the most visible being Monday's front-page story by the paper's lead book critic (and prominent Bush-basher) Michiko Kakutani, "From Books, New President Found Voice," who praised Obama for...reading:
In college, as he was getting involved in protests against the apartheid government in South Africa, Barack Obama noticed, he has written, "that people had begun to listen to my opinions." Words, the young Mr. Obama realized, had the power "to transform": "with the right words everything could change -- South Africa, the lives of ghetto kids just a few miles away, my own tenuous place in the world."
Much has been made of Mr. Obama's eloquence -- his ability to use words in his speeches to persuade and uplift and inspire. But his appreciation of the magic of language and his ardent love of reading have not only endowed him with a rare ability to communicate his ideas to millions of Americans while contextualizing complex ideas about race and religion, they have also shaped his sense of who he is and his apprehension of the world.
Next time someone dismisses the idea that mass media can exert influence on American culture, point to a Jan. 18 New York Times article titled, "How the Movies Made a President." In that piece, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott argue that fictional depictions of black U.S. presidents helped pave the way for a real one.
“The presidencies of James Earl Jones in ‘The Man,’ Morgan Freeman in ‘Deep Impact,”’ Chris Rock in ‘Head of State’ and Dennis Haysbert in ‘24’ helped us imagine Mr. Obama’s transformative breakthrough before it occurred,” the authors wrote. “In a modest way, they also hastened its arrival.”
Furthermore, Dargis and Scott say that a number of black filmmakers and movie stars have “helped write the prehistory of the Obama presidency.”
If the authors are correct and Hollywood did help lessen the role of race in the electoral equation, then it has performed a service to the nation and is to be commended. The mass media clearly holds tremendous power to influence public attitudes, and did so in this case for the better.
On the eve of becoming the nation's 44th President, Barack Obama went to Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a Washington, D.C., residence for homeless, runaways, and troubled youth, and actually assisted in painting the walls what appeared to be an aqua blue (video embedded right).
Watching the proceedings on various cable news networks, my heart welled with pride as I realized my new president was a much better painter than Winston Churchill.
For those missing the joke, this is what fictional playwright Franz Liebkind told Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom as they discussed producing his "Springtime for Hitler" in the Mel Brooks classic "The Producers":
Imagine for a moment that Sen. John McCain won the election in November and that John Hagee gave a sermon at Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University the Sunday preceding the inauguration wherein he slammed the "egregious menage a trois of homosexuals, Hollywood, and hell-bound atheists" for destroying the United States.
The coverage would be non-stop and President-elect McCain would be pressed to repudiate the remarks from his stalwart evangelical supporter, even though he's already distanced himself during in the campaign.
Yet it's a vastly different story when it was Rev. Jeremiah Wright at Howard University's chapel and the "egregious menage a trois" was that of "racism, militarism and capitalism."
While his colleague Michelle Boorstein helpfully edited Wright's more embarrassing rhetoric (see more below the fold), Washington Post's Dana Milbank reminded readers just how loopy Rev. Wright is in his page A9 January 19 article, "You Thought the Jeremiad Was Over?" (emphasis mine):
People don't even worship God like they worship Barack Obama.
So said comedian Jackie Mason in his most-recent video blog just posted at YouTube.
But that's not all. According to Mason, "Mao Tse Tung wasn't so venerated and people weren't so fearful of disagreeing with him as the Congress of the United States including the Republicans who are afraid to disagree with anything he says or does because they'll be called a racist."
Mason also deliciously went after "a yenta like Hillary Clinton" for being completely unqualified to be Secretary of State, and Timothy Geithner, "a thief that never paid his income taxes [who's] now going to be in charge to make sure you pay your income tax."
Strap your seatbelts tightly, folks, for the video embedded below the fold addresses inconvenient truths Obama-loving media dare not:
Catching up with something from Saturday I just came across, Newsweek's Howard Fineman pointed out on MSNBC just before 6 PM EST, as the Obama-Biden train arrived at Washington, DC's Union Station, that he was reading “the pool reports that have been filed by reporters on the train and they refer to Barack Obama as PEBO, which is short for 'President-elect Barack Obama.'” Fineman felt that illustrated how “there's an intimacy and a familiarity on that train,” presumably between the journalists and Obama, one shared by Fineman who hailed Obama's “many gifts” and saw “a down-home folksiness that belies the tremendous hopes that not only the country, but the whole world, have for him.”
I've been reading the pool reports that have been filed by reporters on the train and they refer to Barack Obama as PEBO, which is short for “President-elect Barack Obama” and there's an intimacy and a familiarity on that train, a down-home folksiness, that belies the tremendous hopes that not only the country, but the whole world, have for him.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer shared his thoughts on Barack Obama’s inauguration and made this comparison: "Well, people just want to be a part of it. It's like who wouldn't want to be a part of it if you could have been there when Lincoln gave one of his addresses or something...People really do feel this is a moment in history. And they want to be part of it."
Earlier, co-host Harry Smith observed: "And there is an amazing feeling here, especially contrast with the feeling of eight years ago." Schieffer agreed: "Yeah, it really was, because don't forget, you had that really difficult thing down in Florida. People were not convinced. Some people were not convinced that George Bush really was legitimately-" Smith interjected: "Still not convinced." Schieffer continued: "-the president. There was a lot of rancor. People had fun, they came up, and -- but nothing like the spirit that you see here...There is a real spirit here. I've never seen anything quite like it."
Smith later declared: "They're here from Canada, California, Colorado, Ohio. They're from all over the country. Every color of the rainbow. And there really is a sense of togetherness, of unity." He then concluded the segment by exclaiming: "It really is that sort of a sense of E. Pluribus Unum, right?...Out of many, one." Schieffer agreed: "It really is."
Big business, the supposedly right-wing, conservative entity that thwarts "progress" and advocates against left-wing economic policies sure doesn't seem to be acting that way of late.
Of course it never really does but that is beside the point. AP reporter Stephen Manning chronicles how corporate America is trying to cash in on Barack Obama's inauguration in an unprecedented, literal selling of a president:
The guys hawking Barack Obama T-shirts and trinkets on the corners of downtown Washington have some new competition in the selling frenzy building up to the president-elect's inauguration Tuesday - Corporate America.
Companies ranging from global giants like soda and snacks maker PepsiCo to a local grocery chain offering cakes with Obama's face in icing are jumping on the Obama commercial wave. Others, like the Swedish home store Ikea, are hoping consumers take Obama's mantra of "change" to heart so much that they go out and buy furniture to mark the change in the White House.
In a January 18 ABC News exclusive interview, former Obama pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright confessed to, but did not repent of, his inflammatory rhetoric directed at the media. Wright's excuse:
"They were arrogant, they were evil, they were devious and I responded in kind," Wright said. "I just talked to you about a 500-year tradition but you don't ask me one question about that because that's not your interest, your interest is to taint Barack Obama. So no, I'm not going to be conservative, I'm not going to kiss anybody's behind and if I'm standing up straight you can't ride my back.
Yet apparently ABC staffers Tahman Bradley and Ferdous al-Faruque failed to question Wright on whether his demeanor from the pulpit exhibited more the gospel of class and race warfare than the gospel of Jesus Christ. What's more, Bradley and al-Faruque failed to point out that some print journalists such as Newsweek's Eleanor Clift have hailed Wright as a "prophetic" voice, something that cuts against Wright's view that the MSM has had it in for him.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show co-host Smith recounted being a passenger on Barack Obama’s inaugural train on Saturday: "On a freezing cold Saturday, people stood for hours just to get a glimpse. They wanted to be able to say in the years to come, ‘I was there that day when the train went through.’ In his fawning report, Smith used poetic language to describe the train ride from Philadelphia to Washington: "Barack Obama spoke of perfecting the Union, he spoke of common hopes and common dreams, he spoke of recognizing ourselves in one another...This was no mere victory tour, this was something more."
Smith found two particular passengers, Patricia and Ted Stiles, who showed bipartisan support for Obama: "Patricia and her husband, Ted, are lifelong Republicans who supported Obama. What did you see when you looked out the windows today?" Patricia declared: "This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for this nation. I'm excited, Harry, let me tell you." Ted exclaimed: "I saw large groups of people, I saw small groups of people. They were standing on their cars. It's like watching a regeneration of our country." A Sunday article in The Denver Post quoted Patricia Stiles, a Colorado native, about hugging Obama at the beginning of the trip in Philadelphia: "President-elect Barack Obama, the greatest, most articulate speaker I've known in my lifetime, standing there to my left. I just melted away."
"The president-elect popped into a party at Bobby Van's restaurant, as well as The Washington Post's newsroom, where hard-bitten journalists fumbled for their cellphone cameras and reached for his hand."
So noted Post staffer Paul Schwartzman in his January 18 Metro section front-pager "Mr. Obama's (Giddy) Neighborhood." Yet for a supposedly hard-bitten bunch, the Posties sure are giddy over Obama.
Elsewhere on the Metro front page: "Driven to Obamaville by Something 'Bigger Than Us,'" -- columnist Marc Fisher's look at Obama fans camping out in an RV park north of Washington, D.C. -- and David Fahrenthold's "Visitors Pour Into D.C., Loaded With Luggage, But Lightened by Hope."
Hard-bitten journalists? Only if it's Chris Matthews that's been doing the biting.
I've collated the list of people and groups -- those scheduled to perform, appear at an event or ball or listed on a host committee (many will participate in more than one event) -- from a bunch sources, starting with the AP's Thursday article, “Hollywood on the Potomac: Where the stars will be.” I supplemented that with the WashingtonPost.com's “Party Central” and its The Sleuth blog, USAToday.com's entertainment blog and MSNBC.com's The Scoop blog. Those with an * are taking part in the Lincoln Memorial event, the rights to which HBO paid the inaugural committee $2.5 million.
Jessica Alba Marc Anthony Patricia Arquette Joan Baez Angela Bassett
Last Thursday, Barack Obama's nominee for Attorney General, Eric Holder, admitted during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing that he supported renewing the part of the Patriot Act that allows for the FBI to seek records from businesses, libraries and bookstores as the policing agency investigates suspects in this country. For years we've seen news agencies and opinionists rail against the expanded power of the FBI to search such records. But, now with Obama's AG announcing in his confirmation hearing that he agrees that the FBI should have this power, all anti-Bush administration voices are silent on the matter that had them so exercised for 6 years.
Since 2002 the debate has raged about the efficacy and Constitutionality of the Patriot Act with the power of the FBI to search bookstore and library records coming in for special condemnation. Even as the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the law, right to privacy groups, the media and anti-Bushies have pointed to this particular policy and cried Orwell or worse.
“I'm so happy my children havea real hero to look up to” in “a truly scholarly man” who will make an “intelligent, constitutionally brilliant President” at a time when “people are so ready to rejoice and celebrate what is hopefully the return of the foundation of the United States” so “my eyes well up just thinking about” Barack Obama being sworn in since “I'm calm for the first time in eight years,” knowing “somebody is in charge that has such intelligence and grace and is so thoughtful.”
That's some of the giddy excitement expressed by a few of the many celebrities swarming to Washington, DC this weekend for Obama's inauguration which were collected by USA Today for articles in Thursday's and Friday's “Life” section:
Actress Gloria Reuben (IMDb page), now in TNT's Raising the Bar and formerly on NBC's ER, will be on hand Tuesday “to watch the magic moment happen” since she yearns for an end to the “hell” of the Bush years. (Screen capture is from Reuben on ABC's This Week in 2006 when she was promoting a play in which she played Condoleezza Rice):
It's a once-in-a-lifetime situation. The last eight years have been such hell. We're all so excited about the hope of things to come. I really think that's part of it. People are so ready to rejoice and celebrate what is hopefully the return of the foundation of the United States.
Friday's CBS Evening News delivered a parting shot at outgoing President George W. Bush as fill-in anchor Maggie Rodriguez paired how a just-released CBS News/New York Times survey pegged Bush's approval rating “at just 22 percent” -- which she noted “is the lowest for an outgoing President since the question was first asked more than 70 years ago” -- with how “68 percent said they expect Barack Obama to be a good or very good President.”
Views of Mr. Bush's popularity are highly partisan. Only 6 percent of Democrats approve of the job he has done as president, while 57 percent of Republicans approve. Eighteen percent of independents approve.
The short item from Rodriguez on the Friday, January 16 CBS Evening News:
At a time when the United States is fighting two wars and faces a severe recession and huge budget deficits, the inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation's 44th president is estimated to cost $45 million. Bush's 2004 inauguration cost roughly $40 million. But though the figures are similar, there's been a major shift in the tone of coverage at the New York Times.
While the Times spent much of January 2005 making clear its disapproval of Bush extravagantly celebrating his inauguration during wartime, that concerned tone is conspicuously absent from the Times in January 2009, although the country is not only still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in danger of a deep recession. The difference? Perhaps because this time, it's the Times's favored candidate who is readying to assume the highest office.
A January 11, 2005 editorial on Bush's second inauguration, "Victor's Spoils," sniffed:
At the rate President Bush's supporters are giving money, his second inauguration threatens to stand out in the history books like the common folks' muddy boot prints on the White House furniture at Andrew Jackson's gala. The $40 million record for inaugural partying set four years ago for Mr. Bush is expected to be shattered this month....Ordinary citizens might have hoped that the overriding issue in Washington -- the perilous Iraq war, with its drain on the nation's blood and treasure -- would dictate restraint. But plans for the four-day extravaganza roll forward with nine celebratory balls being underwritten by the usual corporate and fat-cat supplicants in the political power mill. There's nothing new in Washington's triumphalist celebrations, festooned with price tags for access, but war usually mutes the singing and dancing. Not this year.
"For the first time in a long time, it's cool to be an American."
No, that's not First Lady-in-waiting Michelle Obama, although it sounds a lot like her infamous comment from the 2008 Democratic primary campaign. It's American expatriate Kit Maloney, as quoted by London-based Washington Post foreign service staffer Mary Jordan at the end of her January 16 article, "Americans, Feeling the Love."
Sharing some credit with a total of nine additional Post contributors based in London and seven other foreign capitals, Jordan's 27-paragraph story relayed the stories of Americans sharing their tales of low-grade persecution by anti-Bush, anti-American Europeans.
Rather than question the incivility or poor etiquette of said snooty Europeans towards Americans working in their countries, Jordan painted Europeans and Americans living abroad as uniformly breathing a welcoming sigh of relief at Barack Obama's inauguration next Tuesday.