The White House told Dylan Byers of Politico today that it has magnanimously agreed to allow the press to cover the swearing in of the president of the United States.
I wanna tell you, the fact that barring reporters from the Inauguration of the president was even under consideration is a bad sign about how the White House intends to deal with the free flow of information during President Obama’s second term.
As you may be aware, the Constitution mandates that the president take the oath of office on January 20, which this year is a Sunday, so the White House is doing what the Presidential Inauguration Committee terms a “private” swearing in followed by the public event Monday, January 21.
Officials had been telling the press they’d have to do with a representation of the moment by Pete Souza, the White House Minister of Photographic Propaganda. But the “private” Sunday event is the actual swearing in, while the Monday stuff is just for show. In a free society, it might be wise to let the public not have to take Pete Souza’s word for it.
You may remember, the White House pulled the same stunt in 2009 when John Roberts botched the ceremony and Obama had to be sworn in privately just to make sure. The country was told about it later and delivered an official photo.
Trying to close off the swearing in of the president so as, I assume, not to detract from the next day’s public bonanza, bespeaks a real bad attitude toward freedom of the press. A similar contempt was expressed during a briefing the other day by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, when the Obama mouthpiece failed to answer a single question posed by reporters.
I assume things only get worse from here.