Inauguration Fatigue

History, yes, but take the rest

I’m all for celebrating the inauguration of a new president – especially the first African American president in our nation’s history – but geez, haven’t things gotten a bit out of hand?

On TV as I type:

- Channel 4: Hollywood Presidents.

- Channel 7: Highlights of Barbara Walters’ presidential interviews

- Channel 12: Two of President Ford’s sons, Steve and Jack Ford, talk about what the Obama girls can expect from life in the White House.

- Channel 29: President Obama & Your Money

- Channel 48: Pre-Inauguration Coverage

And that's right now, Monday morning, not even counting the news channels. Make it stop!

And then there’s the local newspapers.

“Tribune Running Out Of Obama Material,” Chicagoistproclaimed upon reading the Sunday paper.

Not quite: The Tribune today explores the secrets behind Michelle Obama’s eyebrows.

Is there an angle left untouched? Perhaps the kind of toilet paper the Obama’s prefer?

If only the war in Iraq was the subject of as much media scrutiny before that disaster was launched . . .

But then, it’s not just a perverted form of journalism that’s going on; it’s a journalism perverted by marketing. The media is trying to come up with as many Obama products as possible because Obama sells. Last week the Sun-Times inserted a crappy cardboard square featuring photos of all the presidents on it inside its paper. Suitable for framing, complete with the Sun-Times logo! Both papers keep promising historic keepsakes every day, though what they are really promising are historic marketing keepsakes.

And everyone is rummaging through their archives in a way that was never done when it came to reporting on, say, Tony Rezko or Barack Obama’s relationship with the Daley administration.

So we have the lost Check, Please episode, and a photo of Obama in a parade holding a plunger, and a special Reader compilation of old Obama stories, even though the Reader was noticeably absent from reporting on Obama during the campaign.

History is being made, and that should be honored to the fullest. But it should not be done cheaply, and it might be nice if the media did its job as reporters and not cheerleaders by looking critically upon the massively expensive inauguration the Obama administration is holding amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression – the way it did just four years ago when George W. Bush held an inauguration at less than a third of the cost of this one.

We are right to celebrate the peaceful transfer of power to an absolutely unique figure in our political life, but we should do so for the right reasons and in a dignified way, especially for those who still claim to be in the news business.

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