Sean Spicer wasted no time in laying into the media.. During his first press conference as President Donald Trump’s Press Secretary he lambasted the press over “false” reporting of crowd numbers at the inauguration.
Spicer claimed that Friday’s event was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration,” even though “no one had numbers” to confirm it because the Park Service does not issue crowd estimates.
The Park Service however were fully capable of providing the information in 2009 when it “firmly” believed that Mr. Obama had drawn the largest crowd ever to the National Mall with numbers around 1.8million.
There is no firm final count of the size of the crown at either inauguration but according to figures shared by the Metro Washington subway system on Twitter, 193,000 trips had been taken by 11am on Donald Trump’s inauguration day, compared with 513,000 during the same period on 20 January 2009 when Barack Obama took office.
This is far from conclusive but that does not mean it should be discounted.
While at the CIA on Saturday Trump recalled that when he lifted his eyes from the podium it “looked like a million, a million and a half people”.
Well, that’s interesting because below is a picture of the Women’s March on the day after the inauguration at which there has been reported to have been 470,000 participants.
Below now is a picture of Trump’s inauguration. I respect his 1.5 million supporters’ economic use of space…
Pictures taken from National Park Service EarthCam
But why is this even being talked about? I think a lot of people have too readily invoked the ‘haha no one showed up’ response. Why is that funny? It doesn’t stop him being President.
What is interesting is not whether or not people showed up. That really doesn’t matter. There are a host of legitimate reasons why there could or could not have been less (it definitely was less) of a crowd.
For instance, Trump drew just 4.1% of the vote in Washington DC and lost the surrounding states of Maryland and Virginia. It was also a wet day, while Obama’s was sunny, and about half of Washington’s population is black – certainly not Trump’s most vocally supportive demographic.
However, despite these valid reasons Trump insisted that, as always, he was the best. That because he is a natural born winner he had also won the unspoken and non-existent competition of who could have the biggest inauguration crowd.
But again, that Trump was Trump and boasted is not the crucial learning point from this incident.
What we have is a taste of how Trump will deal with truth and the media as a President – a much more pertinent issue.
Trump and his Press Secretary have invented a whole new world of spin. Despite being presented with obvious facts to the contrary they doubled down and attacked the media of “fake news”.
After revealing that God had stopped rain from falling during his speech, Trump triumphed that he had “caught” the news network in a lie: “We caught them in a beauty. And I think they’re going to pay a big price.”
He not only fabricated figures but also brazenly conjured up a catching of the media being deceitful.
There will be countless inane references to 1984 by people who have not read it but doublespeak and doublethink are not worthy of Trump.
Trump does not have authoritative control of the US’s media yet Trumpspeak is prevailing. He has yet again tied the media and public in knots. Newspapers are proudly reveling in their analysis from a Harvard crowd expert but they fail to realise the debate is over. The battle was won last week when Trump introduced two words that will prove to be of nuclear strength: ‘Fake News’.
With two small words Trump has demolished the old order of reporting stories. He has invented alternative truth which has just as much credibility as truth. Most importantly however, which the mainstream press has still yet to realise (despite countless editorials admitting they are “out of touch with common man” and they will seek to “reconnect”) Trumpspeak will always be believed by Trump supporters.
The mainstream press will continue to be an echo chamber for Hillary supporters and those who chortled every time it was suggested since 2015 that Trump would make it to the next leg of the Presidential race. All the while Trump will speak to the people who got him elected.
Just because previous presidents have had press conferences do not expect Trump to act as all other presidents have done. Why would he? He has just secured the most powerful office in the world by berating the media. Why would he now start dancing to their tune?