An aide with the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) tonight confirmed to the Erik Wemple Blog that the swearing-in ceremony for President Obama that will take place at the White House on Sunday, Jan. 20, will feature media access. “We can assure that media will have access to official swearing-in ceremony on Sunday,” said the PIC official, promising more details on logistics and media availability.
That assurance follows a Politico story from last week citing jitters among White House reporters that what the PIC termed a “private” swearing-in session on Sunday would be really, really private — i.e., closed to the media. “I’m stunned that this is even an issue,” NBC News’s Chuck Todd told Politico. The basis for the concerns stemmed in part from a PIC press release issued last week:
In keeping with tradition for Inauguration Days that fall on a Sunday, the President will participate in a small private swearing-in ceremony on January 20.
The inaugural committee didn’t precisely quash reporters concerns when it told Politico that decisions on media access to the official/private swearing-in ceremony hadn’t yet been made.
The 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution stipulates that the terms of the president and vice president expire at noon on the 20th day of January. In 2013, that means that the official oath must be administered on a Sunday. PIC officials have scheduled a ceremonial swearing-in event open to the public on Monday.
Still unclear is how much media will be allowed into the private-but-media-attended session. “We have just launched and we are just determining what the coverage plans will be for many events,” says the aide, noting that media access to the official swearing-in is consistent with the committee’s original thinking on the matter.