Trump Gripes About Media Focus On Crowd Size As He Relitigates It For 8th Time

AP
Views

President Donald Trump continued to play up the crowd size at his inauguration Wednesday night, even as he groused that the media was keeping the subject in the spotlight.

In fact, Trump and his staff have jumped at the chance to relitigate the crowd size subject at least eight times since his swearing-in.

In an interview on ABC’s “World News Tonight,” Trump told anchor David Muir that the press keeps “bringing it up.”

He went on to rail against the press for airing “very unflattering” photos taken “from certain angles,” apparently to make the crowds at his inauguration seem smaller, per ABC’s transcript of the interview.

“I had a massive amount of people here,” Trump claimed. “I’ll show you a picture later if you’d like of a massive crowd.”

He called it “supposedly the biggest crowd in history” and said he was “honored” by the attendance.

“But I didn’t bring it up,” he added. “You just brought it up.”

“I’m not interested in the inaugural crowd size,” Muir said.

He went on to ask Trump about his first full day in office and the optics of his decision to send White House press secretary Sean Spicer out to issue a vitriolic statement about media coverage of the inauguration. But the President was not about to let the subject go.

“We had a crowd—I looked over that sea of people and I said to myself, wow,” Trump said. “And I’ve seen crowds before. Big, big crowds. That was some crowd.”

Contrary to Trump’s claim that the media is keeping the subject afloat, he and top White House staffers have raised it or gamely argued that the crowds were bigger than Trump got credit for multiple times since initial estimates showed less-than-historic attendance at the Friday inauguration.

In a poorly-received speech at the CIA’s headquarters on Saturday afternoon, Trump claimed there was a “massive field of people” at his inauguration.

“I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field. I’m like, wait a minute,” he said. “I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, million and a half people.”

On Saturday night, Spicer accused the media of “deliberately false reporting” with regard to photographs of the crowd as well as its attendance estimates, which he tried to refute by using incorrect D.C. Metro ridership statistics.

According to a report by the Washington Post, Trump personally pushed Spicer to issue the fiery response, and thought it was not forceful enough.

Top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway offered her own spirited defense of Spicer’s bogus statistics—which she dubbed “alternative facts”—in an interview on Sunday. She said media coverage of crowd sizes was “a symbol for the unfair and incomplete treatment” she claimed Trump receives.

In a second interview on Sunday, Conway said there were “hundreds of thousands” of people at Trump’s inauguration, but apparently acknowledged low turnout due to inclement weather.

On Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus relitigated the subject in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” in the face of a side-by-side comparison of photos of Trump’s inauguration and President Barack Obama’s in 2009.

Spicer brought crowd size up yet again in his first daily briefing with reporters from the White House, calling it “demoralizing” for Trump to face constant unfavorable coverage.

“It’s not just about a crowd size,” Spicer said. “There is this constant theme to undercut the enormous support that he has.”

And of course, the tweet-happy President made an apparent reference to the matter on Tuesday via his medium of choice.

The photo will hang in front of White House reporters, according to the President, who told Muir on Wednesday that he didn’t want to talk about inauguration.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK