We won’t have had a full business weekday of President Trump’s new administration until Monday evening, but already we’ve seen the enormity of the worldwide Women’s March the day after Friday’s inauguration, and Saturday evening a visibly perturbed White House press secretary Sean Spicer took the first official press briefing under Donald Trump as an opportunity to lash out at the journalists present over what he characterized as mistreatment by the media regarding Inaugural crowd sizes on the Mall at Washington, DC as compared to previous years.
The backlash was that when CNN fact-checked six of Spicer’s major talking points, they claimed only one could be verified as true. CNN also reported that three of Spicer’s other claims were false, one inconclusive and one misleading, and in a Sunday morning interview with NBC‘s Chuck Todd of Meet The Press, Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared at times to be in a shouting match with the journalist when he questioned her about the White House motives behind what he interpreted as unnecessarily alleging falsehoods over a trivial issue like crowd size.
Dispute Over The Truth
Two of press secretary Spicer’s major claims about President Trump’s inaugural crowd size were that this year’s event marked the first time a protective grass covering had been used on the Mall, which accentuated areas where people were sparsely congested and that this was also the first time fenced areas and magnetometers had been used at so large a perimeter, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from accessing the mall.
CNN producer Kevin Liptak and his fact checkers disputed both of those claims as false. In regards to the claim about the new protective lawn covering, they reported the following.
“Photos from the 2013 inauguration clearly show white ground coverings being laid on the National Mall ahead of President Barack Obama’s second swearing-in. Reporters who covered the event also recall the white plastic flooring that was laid along the National Mall to protect the grass.”
The assumption is that Obama’s crowds were excessively larger, making it impossible to see the lawn covering when the crowd reached full capacity. When investigating Spicer’s remarks about the perimeter fence and the use of metal detecting “wands” or magnetometers, CNN had the following to say.
“The Secret Service, the agency responsible for securing the event, acknowledged that the secure area for this year’s inauguration was larger than in years past, but the extra measures included only fences and bag checks and not magnetometers….”There were seven access points where bag checks only were conducted.” The spokesperson added that magnetometers — which includes hand wands — also weren’t used.”
Trump Senior Adviser Appears On Meet The Press
As is customary for the major media Sunday TV News circuit, President Trump Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared this morning to act as spokesperson for Trump and the administration. Sharing Trump and Spicer’s disdain for the media, Conway became agitated with host Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet The Press and basically refused to acknowledge Todd when he prompted her to explain the motivation behind Spicer having suggested repeated untruths at Saturday’s briefing.
“You’ve make a very reasonable, rational case” said Todd, regarding the triviality of inaugural crowd sizes,”but you haven’t answered the question, why did the president send out his press secretary….for the very first time…to utter a very provable falsehood?”
“If you’re going to continue to refer to our press secretary in those types of terms,” replied Conway “I think we’re going to have to rethink our relationship here.”
Shouting Match Over ‘Alternative Facts”
The conversation escalated, with Conway taking offense to a separate story leaked on Friday by a White House press pool member, who on Twitter had initially reported not seeing the bust of MLK traditionally placed in the Oval Office and wrongly assumed Trump had removed it. The story was officially retracted hours later.
When pressed again to answer the question regarding Sean Spicer’s briefing facts, Conway refused to let Todd speak.
“No. No, no, no, no no no!” she retorted,”Excuse me…..don’t be so overly dramatic…..Sean Spicer offered alternative facts”
“Alternative facts?” Todd chuckled, and the bickering went on. Watch the whole interview here.
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]