In 2013, January 20, the constitutionally mandated date for the swearing in of a president, falls on a Sunday. I'm not exactly sure why (it's tradition) but the actual cerermony is set to be held on Monday, January 21 where Chief Justice Roberts will administer a second, symbolic oath to Obama.
The Obama administration is contemplating making the "official" swearing in a private affair. This has the White House Correspondents Association up in arms:
"Mindful of the historic nature of this occasion, we expect the White House will continue the long tradition of opening the President's official swearing-in to full press access, and we as an organization are looking forward to working with the administration to make that happen," Ed Henry, the Fox News correspondent and president of the White House Correspondents Association, said in a statement.
Because inauguration day falls on a Sunday in 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts will officially administer the official oath of office in a private ceremony that day. The public inauguration on the Capitol Building's West Front - at which Roberts will administer a second, symbolic oath of office - will take place the next day.
In early meetings with the inaugural committee, officials privately indicated to reporters that the Jan. 20 event could be closed to reporters and cameras, with an official photograph supplied to press by White House photographer Pete Souza, sources familiar with the meeting told POLITICO.
Fears of such a scenario were reignited this week when the Presidential Inauguration Committee sent out a press release, referring to a "private" inauguration.
The White House press corps acknowledges that nothing is set in stone. 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.
"Call me shell-shocked. I'm stunned that this is even an issue; it boggles the mind," NBC News White House correspondent Chuck Todd told POLITICO. "This is not their oath, this is the constitutional oath. It's not for them. It's for the public, the citizens of the United Sates. It just boggles the mind. How is this even a debate?"
Maybe Obama wants it private because he wants to be sworn in using the Koran. Perhaps he's changed the oath, taking out "faithfully" ("execute the office") and that last bit about preserving the Constitution.
Whatever the reason, the press won't let him get away with this one. Every previous president sworn in on Sunday - including Ronald Reagan's second inaugural - was open to the press. And I suspect that when all is said and done, this one will be too.
But it is flabbergasting to contemplate the reasons why this president wanted to shut out the American people.