The new White House press secretary Sean Spicer has been slammed for blatantly lying about the size of the crowds which had assembled to attend President Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony on Friday.
Spicer came down heavily on journalists during his first press conference at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room by going on a tirade which was not only grounded in inaccuracies, but reeked of an ignorance which threatens to become a norm under the new administration. Perhaps what was most ironic was Spicer criticizing journalists for reporting inaccurately, when it was in fact he who had based his observations on half-baked ‘facts’ far removed from reality.
“No one had numbers because the National Park Service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out,” Spicer said, reports The Guardian, before going on to claim anyway that Donald Trump’s inauguration was attended by the largest crowd in history.
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”
This is a completely fabricated claim. Although Spicer is right in pointing out that there is no official inauguration crowd numbers, visual evidence from overhead photography overwhelmingly suggests that there was a far smaller crowd at Trump’s inauguration ceremony than there was at Barack Obama’s eight years ago.
— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) January 20, 2017
Now while it is the job of a White House press secretary to put a spin on stories that are critical of the administration, to lie so blatantly about inauguration crowd size betrays a certain sense of insecurity within the Trump camp. After all, why should a President or his press secretary be so enamored with inauguration crowd sizes, especially when they are being reported accurately in the media?
There were a string of lies that Spicer concocted during the press conference, without even bothering to understand that it is the job of journalists to cross-check his claims. It appears the mantra of the Trump administration is that anything spoken with confidence becomes the truth, but fortunately, journalism is still grounded in facts. For instance, Spicer claimed that the entire space between the Capitol and the Washington Monument on the National Mall was full of people, a claim which was repeated by President Trump himself at CIA headquarters on Saturday.
“I get up this morning and I turn on one of the networks and they show an empty field. I said wait a minute, I made a speech, I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, a million and a half people…it went all the way back to the Washington Monument.”
But this tall claim is completely false, as any picture of the National Mall taken during Trump’s inauguration will show you. In fact, PBS has put out a time-lapse video of the National Mall on inauguration day, and one can clearly see that the space between the Capitol and the Washington Monument was never completely occupied.
There were other claims made by the new White House press secretary, such as the one in which he claimed that “420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural.”
Now this is a clear subversion of facts. While Spicer uses full-day ridership data for Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony, he makes sure to use only the data till 11 a.m. when talking about Barack Obama’s 2013 inaugural. DC Metro’s data suggests that 193,000 people used the metro till 11 a.m. on Donald Trump’s inauguration day, whereas 317,000 people had used it in 2013 during Obama’s second inauguration ceremony.
Metro Ridership: As of 11am, 193k trips taken so far today. (11am 1/20/13 = 317k, 11am 1/20/09 = 513k, 11am 1/20/05 = 197k) #wmata
— Metro (@wmata) January 20, 2017
The fact that the new White House press secretary so blatantly lied during his first press conference is immediate cause for concern. It shows the Trump administration’s utter lack of respect for facts, and this could be a dangerous precedent if not checked quickly. The fact that the President himself endorses this view and issued a warning to journalists during his speech at CIA headquarters goes on to show that President Donald Trump’s war is not with the media, but with facts themselves.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) January 21, 2017
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]