WASHINGTON, D.C-Though hundreds of thousands gathered at the National Mall today for the 57th Presidential Inauguration, many were left frustrated as technical difficulties with the Jumbotron kept the crowd from seeing or hearing parts of the ceremony.
“We saw everybody walk in, but as soon as it started in earnest it just got bad,” said Matt Assenmacher, 43.
Assenmecher, who is from Silver Spring Md. said he’s been to five inaugurations in the past.
“This one, in terms of technical difficulties was the worst,” he said.
The malfunctions began within a few minutes of the broadcast, as the massive screen flickered in between pixelated images and sputters of audio.
Some in the audience booed as the screen briefly turned off, others couldn’t help but laugh at the sporadic transmission.
While President Obama’s first inauguration drew the largest crowd in history, this year the much smaller crowd continued to thin as the transmission became worse. Some left early into the ceremony—staying for neither Obama’s speech nor Beyonce’s performance. About 700,000 attended this year, far less than the 1.8 million of four years ago.
Emily Williams, 28, from Chicago, Ill. said she was disappointed that the technical mishaps prevented general attendees from having access to the event.
There is absolutely no excuse for that; they know how many thousands of people are going to be here,” she said. “If we want to talk about being a democracy then let’s cater to the people.”
Zachary Watts, 27, added that with the high cost and exclusivity of tickets, average citizens were being shortchanged.
“It’s sad that it’s not accessible to everyone, even just for people here to hear it,” he said. “They should have tested it beforehand.”
The transmission improved somewhat by President Obama’s speech but many said they would have to re-watch later to actually appreciate it.
“We were just looking on the map to find if there was somewhere else where we can go see it, and hopefully the audio will be better,” said Annie Hull, 22, from Silver Spring, Md. “We’re just going to go home and watch it on YouTube. “
“It was absolutely horrible when it first started, so we will take what we can get,” said Sheena Daffin, 29, of Rockland County, N.Y. “But I will be watching it again back home.”
Daffin said she and friend Shakira White, 29, contemplated leaving early.
“It kind of defeats the purpose of even being here, “ said White who travelled from Harlem, N.Y. for the event. She and Daffin added that they were happy they made the trip nonetheless.
Even with no regrets, some said the failed monitor impacted their ability to feel connected to the experience.
“We always come, we always expect to feel like part of the inauguration but this time it feels like we missed a huge slice of it,” said Assenmacher.
“For me it was this moment of realizing there is symbolism versus actual policy. All these people are here and we can’t even hear the speech,” said Williams. “We’re here to support you…but we can’t even hear you.”
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