Openness White House To Allow Coverage of Inauguration

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.

Keith Koffler


Award winning journalist Keith Koffler has 16 years of experience covering Washington. As a reporter for CongressDaily, National Journal magazine, and Roll Call, Keith wrote primarily from the White House, covering three presidents and learning as few have the intricacies of the West Wing and the behavior and motivations of its occupants. While mainly stationed at the White House, he also extensively covered Congress and Washington’s lobbyists. Keith has also written for a variety of other publications, including Politico, The Daily Caller, and The London Observer. He currently writes regular opinion columns for Politico. He blogs at

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  • Momof11

    How’s this for an idea: Allow coverage of the swearing in and forgo the whole hooplah and associated expenses.

  • Peter Nyikos

    It seems a little silly to put the Inauguration off to Monday, which is Martin Luther King day and is a public holiday anyway. Ordinarily the reason to put holidays off until Monday is that this way people will have an extended weekend; but that reason does not apply here.

    Maybe Obama wanted to have his inauguration on Martin Luther King day because he likes the idea of being linked with Martin Luther King, Jr. But one could argue that this takes away from the solemnity of Martin Luther King Day, which is observed by my university in form of a public day of service. There is usually a set schedule, with participants meeting at the student union and then being bused to the places where they will be performing community service. I don’t know what time the inauguration is scheduled for, but it could significantly complicate planning for this event.

  • Peter Nyikos

    The earlier Politico story emphasized something else worth thinking about:

    “But even the possibility of a closed-press inauguration has stirred up immense
    frustration among the White House press corps, who note that past Sunday
    inaugurations were open to press.”

  • Peter Nyikos

    Keith, we need more people like you with your impressive press track record. Keep up the good work.