The first official press briefing will be on Monday, but White House Press Secretary and Director of Communications Sean Spicer decided to rip some in the news media for false reporting.
He mentioned how Time’s Zeke Miller reported that the bust if Martin Luther King Jr. was removed from the Oval Office. That was false.
“This was irresponsible and reckless,” said Spicer. The reason for the omission reportedly was due to the fact that a Secret Service agent was standing in front of it obscuring it from view.
Spicer then slammed the photos of the inauguration that were disseminated by the news media on Twitter that he saw as an attempt to downplay the president’s supporters who were gathered on the National Mall. The photo comparing Obama’s inauguration to Trump’s is like night and day concerning attendance, which Spicer explained as due to delay in crowds flowing in due to security measures.
The crowd size comparison, from 2009 and today. pic.twitter.com/iMYZy9PRK8— Matt Viser (@mviser) January 20, 2017
“No one had numbers because the National Park Service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out,” he said.
Spicer did give estimates of the attendance.
“We know that from the platform, where the president was sworn in, to fourth street holds about 250,000 people. From Fourth Street to the media tent is about another 220,000. And from the media tent to the Washington Monument another 250,000 people. All of this space was full when the president took the oath of office,” he said. “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration. Period. Both in person and around the globe,” he added.
Of course, CNN, a favorite target of the president, offered their account:
And Spicer said, "We know that 420,000 people used the D.C, Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 for president Obama's last inaugural."
Spicer's number for ridership on Friday was actually low -- the correct number, according to Metro itself, was 570,557. But there were actually 782,000 trips taken for Obama's second inaugural in 2013.
"I've run out of adjectives," wrote Chuck Todd, the moderator of NBC's "Meet the Press."
Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post said Spicer's assertion about "what you guys should be writing" was "chilling."
Reactions were overwhelmingly negative, and not just from journalists.
Ari Fleischer, who had the same job as Spicer during the George W. Bush administration, tweeted, "This is called a statement you're told to make by the President. And you know the President is watching."
And Brian Fallon, who was in line to become press secretary if Hillary Clinton had won, wrote, "Sean Spicer lacks the guts or integrity to refuse orders to go out and lie. He is a failure in this job on his first full day."
Spicer added, “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.” He noted how unifying the country was the core of President Trump’s inaugural address, but it’s harder to do that if the media is peddling false narratives.
Before leaving the press corps, he noted that the president spoke with Canadian Justin Trudeau about strengthening ties. Trump also spoke with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto about their January 31st visit, where the two men will disucss trade, immigration and security. January 31. The first foreign leader, UK Prime Minister Theresa, is set to arrive next Friday.
On Sunday, Trump will oversee his assistants taking their service oaths, followed by an ethics briefing regarding handling classified information.
Spicer didn’t take any questions.
Okay—there was no doubt that Trump drew an audience at his inauguration, but Obama’s did draw a larger crowd—and the TV ratings show that Trump’s inauguration drew 7 million fewer viewers than Obama’s back in 2009. It was more maddening that some in the media, like Chris Matthews, called Trump's inaugural address "Hitlerian."