White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer angrily accused the media Saturday of “false reporting” on the inauguration as part of what he called a “shameful” attempt to minimize enthusiasm for President Trump, beginning his tenure as the administration’s top spokesman on a combative note.
Spicer summoned the press to the briefing room at the end of Trump’s first full day in office to specifically condemn two pieces of reporting – a reporter’s erroneous claim, since retracted, that an MLK bust was removed from the Oval Office; and photos appearing to show light crowds at Friday’s inauguration.
Spicer called the former claim, made on Twitter, “irresponsible and reckless.”
He went on to say inauguration photos were framed to minimize their “enormous” support on the National Mall, while suggesting the reason crowds looked smaller was because floor covering used to protect the grass highlighted where people weren’t standing – and fences kept supporters from quickly accessing the scene.
Spicer also pushed back on what he called inaccurate crowd estimates, stressing, “No one had numbers,” since the National Park Service, which oversees the National Mall where spectators stand, no longer makes public an official crowd count.
Yet Spicer went on to put out their own estimate based on the capacity of certain spaces stretching from the Capitol to the Washington Monument and declared: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”
Trump made similar comments a couple hours earlier during a visit to the CIA headquarters, where he said reporting low-end crowd numbers was the media’s latest attempt to mistreat him, much like he suggested they did in exaggerating a rift between him and the U.S. intelligence community over Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Spicer also argued Trump visited the CIA without an agency director because Senate Democrats are slowing the confirmation of Kansas GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo.
“That’s what you guys should be covering,” he said, adding Trump got a five-minute standing ovation at the agency’s headquarters.