It is now an undisputed fact that more people attended President Obama’s inauguration in 2009 than they did President Trump’s last week. However, the new White House administration is still remaining true to their claims that there was no disparity in attendance between the 2009 and 2017 inaugurations. Spearheading those claims has been the job of new White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who used his first appearance before the White House press corps on Saturday to bolster what is now evidently a blatant lie.
According to NPR, in his first appearance before the press on Saturday, the incoming White House Press Secretary attacked the press for “deliberately false reporting” the crowd size at President Trump’s inauguration the day before, saying, “Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall.” He also threw blame onto a range of other factors that could affect photos of the inaugural gathering.
It’s quite clear that Spicer’s claims were without foundation. However, they are representative of a dangerous new press strategy from the Trump White House. Just a single briefing has shown that the Trump administration is quite comfortable in lying to the press and in turn, the American people.
— CNN (@CNN) January 23, 2017
Whilst previous administrations may have had their own icy relationships with the press, there continues to be a long-standing tradition that the White House Press Secretary is as transparent as possible with the press. However, the arrival of the Trump administration appears to mark the advent of a very different relationship between the White House and the media. Whilst the matter of attendance at the 2017 inauguration ceremony may only be trivial, Spicer’s decision to blatantly lie to the press represents a dangerous new precedent.
After all, it’s the responsibility of the press to report on the actions of the White House. But what happens when the White House isn’t being entirely truthful to the press and in turn, the American people? It can’t be held to account for its actions at home and abroad, and holding the government to account is a fundamental cornerstone of any democracy.
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Of course, it’s worth remembering that Sean Spicer is simply a mouthpiece of the Trump administration. The decision to blatantly lie to the American people likely wasn’t one made by Spicer alone but taken by Trump’s wider team. In fact, according to the Washington Post, in a speech to the CIA on Saturday, Trump himself spoke of his “running war with the media,” continuing the administration’s allegations that the media had under-reported the size of the crowd at his inauguration.
On the campaign trail, it was no surprise that Donald Trump wasn’t the biggest fan of the media. In fact, he regularly lambasted them during his campaign rallies. Upon his election, though, it was widely expected that President Trump would put those differences aside. However, his administration appears to be taking a wildly different approach.
— POLITICO (@politico) January 23, 2017
The press is the only impartial bridge between the White House and the American people. Sean Spicer’s decision to blatantly lie to them on his first full day on the job represents a very dangerous risk for the United States as a democracy. If the media aren’t able to report with truth on the inner-workings of the White House, the Trump administration essentially becomes unaccountable to the very people who elected it and that’s a major problem for the future of our democracy.
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]