20 January, 2009

AP Compares Apples to Oranges and Goes Bananas

Sorry. I couldn't help that post title. I needed something just as fruity as this:

This week, inaugural festivities are a pretty big deal -- in D.C., throughout the country, and even around the world -- but it appears some news outlets have found a way to find fault with the celebration.

The AP, for example, reported, "Unemployment is up. The stock market is down. Let's party. The price tag for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration gala is expected to break records, with some estimates reaching as high as $150 million."


Eric Boehlert set the record straight, explaining, "[T]he Obama figure of $160 million that got repeated in the press included security costs associated with the massive event. But the Bush tab of $42 million left out those enormous costs. Talk about stacking the deck."

...For years, the press routinely referred to the cost of presidential inaugurations by calculating how much money was spent on the swearing-in and the social activities surrounding that. The cost of the inauguration's security was virtually never factored into the final tab, as reported by the press. [...]

For decades, that represented the norm in terms of calculating inauguration costs: Federal dollars spent on security were not part of the commonly referred-to cost. (The cost of Obama's inauguration, minus the security costs? Approximately $45 million.) What's happening this year: The cost of the Obama inauguration and the cost of the security are being combined by some in order to come up with the much larger tab. Then, that number is being compared with the cost of the Bush inauguration in 2005, minus the money spent on security.

In other words, it's the unsubstantiated Obama cost of $160 million (inauguration + security) compared with the Bush cost of 42 million (inauguration, excluding security). Those are two completely different calculations being compared side-by-side, by Fox & Friends, among others, to support the phony claim that Obama's inauguration is $100 million more expensive than Bush's.

So, how much did Bush's 2005 inauguration actually cost, using the standard the media is applying to Obama? Boehlert crunched the numbers and came up with a total of $157 million.

In fact, the majority of his inauguration festivities are being paid for by small donors:

Julia has more on the inaugural cost nonsense that seems to be sweeping the media today. But this really takes the cake:

Bush's inaugural donors were mostly individuals, lobbyists and companies with a vested interest in high oil prices, deregulation,** and the mortgage bubble. The Obama team isn't taking money from lobbyists or companies, has lowered the top donation from Bush's $250k to $50k, and (we find tucked into the bottom of a Politico story about "big donors") all but 5,632 of the 200,000 donations they've received were less than $200, for an average donation of $34.

Note to all of you fuckwits desperate to start some kind of controversy over Obama: stop making such absolute asses of yourselves by making shit up. He's the President. He's popular. He's hard to smear. Get the fuck over it.

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