Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

McCain's pay-to-play election night plans; nothing free, only pool coverage.


WASHINGTON--While Barack Obama is planning a Nov. 4 outdoor rally in Grant Park in Chicago, expected to attract thousands of people win or lose and scores of journalists who want to see the event for themselves in person, the McCain election night headquarters will be the Arizona Biltmore Hotel ballroom with only a press pool allowed in for coverage.

The package McCain's team is selling only has a pay-to-play option, without any no-frills pricing plan for reporters on a budget. Obama's campaign at least has a free option for a credential to a press area.

However, the campaign warned that turf may have obstructed views and no access to the filing center.

A column I wrote critical about the hefty Obama election night costs caught some attention,
so here are the details of the McCain election night operation for comparison. First off, there is little open coverage.

Only a small number of reporters and cameras will be allowed in the McCain ballroom. There will be a press filing center, with the estimated cost $695 per-person covering space, power, internet, tv and food. There is no discount provision for a reporter who just wants access and table space and none of the other services.

If a reporter wants access to the Obama file center, to be constructed in Grant Park, the cost is $935. The cheapest place a reporter could stand on a riser with a view is $880, but that riser spot comes with four credentials.

Unlike the McCain campaign where there is no provision for a reporter who wants to cut costs, the Obama team did provide a free option, a general media area the campaign described as "outdoors, unassigned and may have obstructed views.

The free credentials do not include access to the press filing center, where Obama campaign staffers are likely to gather, so that option is no so appealing. Still, it offers a reporter something for nothing.

The Obama and McCain campaigns charge news organizations routinely to cover costs for travel, hotels, power, internet, cable tv and food. However, usually reporters who need none of those services cover events for free and get the same chance to mingle with campaign officials. Election night seems a different story.


Workspace in the Press Filing Center

Workspace may be available for a fee. Space is limited and not guaranteed. The ESTIMATED cost is $695 per person. 

Workspace will include:
Table space
Cable TV viewing
Food and Beverage service throughout election day


If you have additional telecommunications needs at the Press Filing Center / truck parking area / press risers, please contact ...AT&T will handle installation and billing for additional telecommunications needs.


McCain won't stand in front of his supporters after his election loss? Because he's a coward? He won't stand in front of a large crowd of supporters and urge them to put partisanship behind them, embrace the new POTUS and work hard, in a bipartisan manner, to solve America's crisis? Why??? Is he afraid the crowd will boo, yell obscenities? Riot?

Could someone explain this unconscionable level of bitterness and anger??

This is absurd. It is also a way of keeping out the alternative media, which is not as easily controlled because it does not rely upon access. In the end, Obama will pay for this with increased hostility from those not in the traditional media. Stupid. I have been on the campaign trail since Iowa, and I'm not even going to go to Chicago. $935 for a chair is a little steep for me.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on October 23, 2008 12:10 PM.

John McCain hits Obama on taxes in new "I am 'Joe the Plumber"' spot was the previous entry in this blog.

Mayor Daley puts $2 million city price tag for Obamafest. Obama will pay election night rally costs is the next entry in this blog.

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