President Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer, making his first statement in the White House briefing room, slammed the news media on Saturday for trying to “lessen the enthusiasm” of Trump’s inauguration through reporting on crowd size and a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. in the Oval Office.
In a combative tone, Spicer insisted that Trump’s swearing in was “the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the world.”
But overhead photos clearly show that the crowds did not match Barack Obama’s 2009 swearing in, when an estimated 1.8 million people attended. Ratings also were lower for Trump’s swearing in than they were in 2009. And Metro ridership in Washington also was lower.
Trump’s team scheduled the press statement late on Saturday afternoon, after news networks spent much of the day covering the Women’s March on Washington and in other cities around the world.
Spicer challenged press accounts that compared the size of the crowd on the National Mall for Trump’s inaugural to the numbers who showed up for Barack Obama’s swearing-in in 2009.
Spicer claimed some of the media was engaged in “deliberately false reporting.”
Trump himself claimed that the crowds stretched to the Washington Monument, complaining in a speech at the CIA on Saturday that the media was showing photos of empty spaces on the mall and that “it looked like a million, a million and a half people.”
He said that he has a “running war with the media.”—Agencies