Donald Trump’s team has become embroiled in a fresh war of words with the media.
On January 21, President Trump had condemned media reporting of the number of people attending his inauguration.
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said there was “an obsession… to de-legitimize this president. We’re not going to sit around and take it.”
However, photos show more people attended the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009.
Reince Priebus said on Fox News Sunday that the “media from day one has been talking about de-legitimizing the election”. He said Donald Trump’s presidency would fight such coverage “tooth and nail every day”.
The latest row was mainly sparked by the inauguration figures.
There were no official estimates. President Trump said during a visit to the CIA on January 21 that it “looked like a million and a half people”, but provided no evidence. He called reporters “among the most dishonest human beings on Earth” for saying it was far lower.
Image source CNBC
Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer outlined figures amounting to 720,000 people in Washington’s National Mall, despite also saying that “no-one had numbers” for the inauguration.
Sean Spicer also said it was the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration – period – both in person and around the globe”.
Many outlets, using photos of the National Mall showing the difference in numbers attending the 2009 inauguration and Donald Trump’s, hit out at Sean Spicer’s statements.
The New York Times denounced “false claims” and described the statements as a “striking display of invective and grievance at the dawn of a presidency”.
Both CNN and ABC News went into detail to refute Sean Spicer’s claims.
Donald Trump’s aide Kellyanne Conway also criticized the media in a feisty exchange on NBC.
Kellyanne Conway was challenged by Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press to say why Sean Spicer’s first appearance had been to “utter a probable falsehood”.
“If we are going to keep referring to our press secretary in those type of terms, I think we are going to have to rethink our relationship here,” she said.
Pressed on Sean Spicer’s claims, Kellyanne Conway said he had been presenting “alternative facts”.
“Alternative facts are not facts they are falsehoods,” Chuck Todd replied.
Kellyanne Conway insisted there was “no way to really quantify crowds” and, taking offence at a laugh from the reporter, said: “You can laugh at me all you want. It’s symbolic of the way we are treated by the press the way you just laughed at me.”
She also highlighted another issue that caused friction with the media – the Time Magazine reporter who incorrectly reported that a bust of civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office. The reporter later apologized for the error.
On January 22, Donald Trump tweeted about TV ratings of the inauguration, saying that 31 million people had watched, 11 million more than four years ago.
The president also referred to January 21 protests that saw millions in the US and hundreds of thousands around the globe take to the streets in some 600 demonstrations against his presidency.
Donald Trump’s initial tweet said he was “under the impression that we just had an election”, asking: “Why didn’t these people vote?”
A later tweet said that “peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy”.
Donald Trump has accused the media of dishonestly reporting the size of the crowd at his inauguration on January 20.
The president said the crowd had reached the Washington monument as he spoke at the US Capitol, despite photographic evidence to the contrary.
Later, his White House press secretary said it had been “the largest audience to ever see an inauguration, period”.
On January 21, millions of demonstrators in the US and around the globe protested against Donald Trump’s new administration.
The largest rally was in Washington, which city officials estimated to be more than 500,000-strong. By most estimates, it surpassed the crowd at January 20 inauguration.
The protest’s aim was mainly to highlight women’s rights, which activists believe to be under threat from the new administration.
Donald Trump did not mention the protests during a bridge-building visit to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on January 21 but instead turned on the press.
The president accused the media of inventing a feud between him and the intelligence community and he called reporters “among the most dishonest human beings on earth”.
Donald Trump said TV footage and photos of his inauguration had painted an inaccurate picture.
Image source USA Today
“It looked like a million and a half people” there on Friday, he said, rubbishing media reports that there were as few as 250,000 people.
Donald Trump also said the crowd extended all the way back to the Washington Monument, although this claim is contradicted by aerial shots from the day.
Later, White House press secretary Sean Spicer berated reporters at a news conference over photographs that had shown large, empty spaces during the ceremony.
“This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe,” Sean Spicer said in a fiery statement.
“These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm about the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”
In addition to the photographic evidence, Washington’s Metro system said trips were down on previous inaugurations.
According to TV views were less than Barack Obama’s and Ronald Reagan’s first inaugurations.
Sean Spicer, who did not take questions, added: “There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable, and I’m here to tell you it goes two ways. We’re going to hold the press accountable as well.”
Outgoing CIA chief John Brennan accused Donald Trump of “a despicable display of self-aggrandizement” over the statement at Langley.
His former deputy, Nick Shapiro, said in a statement carried by CNN: “Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of agency heroes.
“Brennan says that Trump should be ashamed of himself.”
Last week, John Brennan called on Donald Trump to be more “disciplined” in what he said and warned him not to underestimate Russian intentions.
Donald Trump’s visit had sought to mend relations with the intelligence community after weeks of doubting their conclusions about alleged Russian interference into the US election.
“I love you, I respect you,” he said, adding that he was “1,000%” behind the spy agency.
The president said the media had invented a feud between them, although in a recent row over a leaked dossier that alleged the Kremlin held compromising material on him, he had likened the actions of intelligence agencies to Nazi Germany.
Donald Trump tweeted: “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to <<leak>> into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”