The Administration Holds First Press Conference With An Attack on Media Over Crowd Estimates

screen-shot-2017-01-22-at-7-06-26-amThe Trump Administration has a rocky kick off this week due to both things outside of its control and things of its own making. First there was the planned protests against the new President — demonstrations both on Inaugural Day and the next day that I criticized. Those were outside the control of the Administration. However, then there was a remarkably disappointing and lackluster Inaugural speech followed by a truly dreadful press conference. This was the first press conference for the Administration – a key moment for any new Administration. Instead of emphasizing the positive and taking control of the news cycle with strategic announcements, White House Press secretary Sean Spicer largely criticized the press and then made a series a highly dubious factual assertions about the size of Trump’s audience. It was a performance that even  stalwart supporters like Charles Krauthammer on Fox called “weird.”  Likewise, Fox News has described Spicer’s facts as “incorrect.” Most of us who have previously watched or covered Inaugurations thought that the crowd seemed smaller.  So what?  Tens of millions of people voted for Trump. That is the measure that counts.  Yet, Spicer went on the attack with some shaky assertions and guaranteed that this tempest in a teapot would be the focus of the next news cycle — and gave critics an opening to lambast the new president.  I have said this before that friends of this President need to call him out when his Administration goofs if they want this Administration to succeed.  This is one such moment and shows an early lack of discipline and message.

In fairness to Spicer, the news conference seemed to follow the President’s lead, not Spicer’s.  Indeed, President Trump was widely criticized for standing in front of the memorial wall at the CIA and went off on a tangent against reports of his crowd being smaller than Obama’s.  It was viewed as highly inappropriate and trivial at such a memorial. The other agenda item was to blast some unknown reporter for a Time reporter’s story that the MLK bust was removed from the Oval Office. Ok, sloppy reporting. Maybe even too eager to find a fault. But that is the stuff of your first news conference. I have no doubt that there are people looking for every negative angle to make the Administration look bad, but you do not have to help them by taking the bait.

Part of the role of White House Spokesman is not to just be the sword and shield for the Administration (though it appears Spicer will be more sword than shield).  He is also the key liaison to the media and needs to develop a sense of trust with these reporters.  No president can lead by tweet. He must interact with journalists and they need to have some level of trust in facts being put forward by an Administration. The proper thing is for the spokesman to ream out the reporter in the bust story and let it be known that there was a dressing down for a false story.  That is why this start was so dreadful.

As Politico and other outfits have detailed, the factual assertions of Spicer appear either demonstrably false and highly questionable.  Most people, including myself, thought that the crowed looked smaller.  That was not a big deal to me.  President Obama was the nation’s first black president and there was an outpouring of supporters.  Moreover, there was the promise of protests and higher security at this event that probably did dampen attendance.  In the end it really does not matter.  Trump and his aides seemed to “protest too much” and revealed a degree of insecurity in constantly returning to the issue of counting attendees.  He received almost half the votes in the country — around 47 percent.  While he lost the popular vote, that is immaterial in our electoral system and he won an overwhelming number of states and delegates.  In other words, he has nothing to prove.

Instead, the Administration telegraphed nothing but insecurity in lashing out at reporters, which were virtually universal on the size of the crowd.  Spicer tried to argue that this was the first time that the nation used floor coverings, which created an image of a smaller crowd. As Politico noted, that is not true. Coverings were previously used.  However, I do not personally recall such large spaces being laid out in white coverings.

Spicer also said that the worst angles were used by some in the media. He may be right. I have been critical of the coverage of Trump during the campaign, which I viewed as overtly hostile.  Yet, I watched the inauguration and it did not seem true, as Spicer claimed that “All of this space [from Trump’s platform to the Washington Monument] was full when the president took the Oath of Office.”  There was an impressive crowd near the platform but it thinned toward the monument.

Spicer appears clearly wrong in saying that “We know 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.”  He is right about the 317,000 figure.  This was the number of people who traveled before 11 am — in time for the Inaugural speech.  If the same period is used for this Inauguration, the figure for Trump would be 193,000. In terms of the whole day, there were 570,557 — a very large number.  However, in 2013, the full day ridership was 782,000 and in 2009 it was 1.1 million.

Perhaps the worst assertion was that “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.”  That statement was instantly ridiculed.  Obama’s 2009 Inauguration was a record breaker.  Moreover the television audience was smaller: 30.6 million compared to 41.8 million for Reagan in 1981 and 37.7 million for Obama in 2009.

Again, we are only crunching number because the White House used the first press conference almost exclusively to this dispute.  Instead of focusing on the hundreds of thousands of people who were there and their celebration in pulling off one of the greatest upsets in U.S. political history, Spicer (and the President).  made this the framing story of the first 24 hours of this Administration.  Given the President’s statements at the CIA, I do not believe that this was just some tangent that Spicer unilaterally decided to take for the first press conference.  However, if this Administration is to flourish, it will need to gain greater control over messaging and timing.

Once again, I do not fault Spicer in criticizing some of the angles and coverage.  He must deal with what must be (and I have no aerial pictures to support this assertion) the most hostile press corps of any new president in history.  He is trying to push back, but that is not the type of message that you want to be the near exclusive focus of your first conference.  It is the type of thing that you release with photos outside of the conference and, if necessary, take questions on the issue while emphasizing new changes.  Trump has started to keep his promises on the ACA and other issues. That should have been the focus of the conference to convey that Trump remains committed to being a vehicle for change. Rather than convey strength, the conference conveyed a hypersensitivity and insecurity.

Here is the first official press conference:

 

 

212 thoughts on “The Administration Holds First Press Conference With An Attack on Media Over Crowd Estimates

  1. Years ago when I played football my team had a little first play ritual when the other team had the ball. Regardless of the situation, our entire team would fire off into the offensive players before the ball was snapped. We did this knowing full well we were going to be penalized, but we wanted to set the tone. Yesterday, Trump and Spicer set the tone.

  2. You are missing the point of the Press Secretary’s remarks. The remarks are scathing to the press who, once again, propagated ‘fake’ news. The First Amendment of the Constitution gives the press a special responsibility to be truthful and unbiased. The mainstream media (MSM) threw the first punch towards President Trump to purposely denigrate the occasion for the peaceful transition of power with a doctored photo of crowds at the inaugural ceremony. Yes, who cares, but the MSM spent hours upon hours on this ‘nothing’ story to make it news. Former President Obama is gone and will never again hold the office of President. President Trump wants to move on with his legacy and could give a darn about whatever his predecessor did (unlike the blame Bush mentality of Obama).

    The MSM tries to control the narrative and this Administration will not let that happen. There’s a new President in town and the rules are changing. The term ‘Presidential’ is taking on a whole new meaning.

    • Right, the MSM threw the first punch and Trump punched back. Trump said he was a counter-puncher and that he would hit back. Nothing phony about this guy.

    • By calling them fake news, Trump is calling out the ‘journalists’ and exposing them as the political activists that they are acting as, rather than objective reporters

  3. I believe it set exactly the right tone including rescinding a bunch of Obomination garbage and let that be what’s his names legacy. A wastebasket full of garbage.

  4. ” stalwart supporters like Charles Krauthammer on Fox called “weird.” ” Krauthammer would not approve of you use of stalwart supporters”.

  5. A bad start. Showed pettiness and insecurity, not to mention..LIES……..AGAIN.!!
    I thought we had got rid of LIES…???
    If the ” Orange One” doesn’t get it…..he’s in for a real rocky start….,Not good.!
    This guy’s EGO, will do him in, before anything else will.

  6. The Mainstream Media Presstitutes need to hammered continuously and relentlessly with their lies.

    Everyone in Trump’s administration should refer to them as “Presstitutes” and “Presstitute purveyors of fake news.” By continuous repetition, the Presstitutes will be plunged into deep submission.

    In many ways, the Presstitutes are just like Islamic terrorists. You cannot reason with them and there is no civilized discussion with them. They only understand two things: pain and punishment. Bring it on, Trump!

  7. http://www.foxsports.com/nhl/story/dallas-stars-spoof-trump-inauguration-attendance-stat-012217“President Donald Trump was unhappy with how some media outlets reported the attendance for his inauguration, and said he believes that approximately 1.5 million people were present in Washington D.C. Friday. While it is unclear exactly how many people were standing on the National Mall, it is estimated that the crowd numbered around 600,000 or less.

    The Dallas Stars had a bit of fun with the controversy Saturday, reporting an attendance of 1.5 million for a game against the Washington Capitals.

    The Stars typically average a total of 18,321 fans at home games, good for 15th in the NHL.

    Also in attendance: dinosaurs.

    The hockey fans get it too. Trump flopped.big time.

  8. Trump likely had highest viewers ever

    http://ew.com/tv/2017/01/21/trump-inauguration-ratings/

    Trump inauguration ratings second biggest in 36 years

    The only inauguration over the last three decades that tops Trump’s number in the linear ratings? Barack Obama’s first inauguration back in 2009, which had a record-setting 37.8 million viewers.

    BUT

    BUT

    FROM THE ARTICLE

    And actually, Trump could have been seen by more viewers than either Obama or Reagan. Nielsen ratings do not account for online viewing, which has grown sharply in recent years and is far more commonplace than even four years ago. CNN.com, for example, clocked 16.9 million live streams, tying with its Election Day coverage for the site’s top event (live stream tallies are typically not apples-to-apples with Nielsen’s strict methodology of counting average viewers, but are still additive). Plus, portals like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter offered live streams as well.

  9. While Spicer’s speech was not ‘typical’ for an administration’s first, it conveyed the message many American’s have been shouting into deaf media ears since the primaries; they don’t trust the mainstream press. Note: two sources Turley cites above (NBC & Politico) are exactly the MSM they’ve been shouting about. This is why Trump supporters (and others who are just sick to death of bitching, moaning, & protests), are willing to give Spicer/Trump a pass, if not downright ignore, what the media feels moved to whine about..this time, that there was a defensive tone to the speech. So? Americans, who are fed up with the heap of salty slandering and peppered perjury smothering their news Wheaties every day, want to send the media and our politicians the exact message Spicer delivered; they are on probation, and going forward their historical relevance as 1st amendment purveyors of truth and government transparency will be considered on a contingency basis only by “we the people” (i.e. not Hollywood, not a biased DoJ, not Saudi Arabia, etc). The American people have sent a shot across the bow to media and politicians in true, New York, tact-lacking form, and ugly as it may sound, people on both sides of the aisle are desperate to hear it . While Spicer may be off to a shaky start on the battlefield of White House press diplomacy, it is inarguable that the bar of journalistic integrity and expectations has fallen to unprecedented sub-swamp bottom-dwelling depths, which makes the false report of Trump removing the MLK bust from the Oval Office much more than just sloppy reporting…it’s the whole flipping point! Turley: “to blast some unknown reporter for a Time reporter’s story that the MLK bust was removed from the Oval Office. Ok, sloppy reporting. Maybe even too eager to find a fault.” Nay, nay, Captain Understatement. This ‘reporting’ defines the media’s culpability in the radical, riotous, violent, racial and class divisive warfare that’s been escalating in this country the last 8 years – no matter whose fault that is (because there’s plenty of blame to go around). It’s this kind of reporting without verification of facts, reliability of sources, ethical disregard for fair political discourse amongst a divided populace, and just plain false propaganda, that has inspired an unknown # of websites/blogs by average citizens who truly believe they must disseminate lies-as truth-to the masses because CNN/NY Times/Fox News said so. They don’t check the Constitution, they don’t read Turley’s articles, they don’t even listen to the radio…they watch the 6 or 10 o’clock news and the Young Turks, donate to Open Society, and consider it a bang-up day in their quest to ‘teach’ others the ‘truth’. While it’s their first amendment right, and I’ll never agree to limiting that for anyone, it would help if the media took responsibility and grew the moral fortitude required to realize they’re playing games with real people’s lives. Real people risked their lives traveling to and attending the inauguration on Friday; many desperately wanted to, but were too scared to go. It may sound crazy, but perhaps that’s why the turn-out was so low. What? Wouldn’t it be responsible journalism for every reporter harping about whose inauguration is bigger to take the fear factor of this year’s event and present that very valid point to the public?

    • The story about the MLK bust was from a pool reporter who didn’t see it. He issued a correction within minutes of filing the original story and disseminated the correction widely.

      • Richard – it was the original tweet and its response that got the publicity. Would he have withdrawn it so quickly if The Donald was no the master of the Twitterverse? And, according to the press conference today, he has still not apologized to the President.

  10. Trump Needs to tell the Truth

    The most powerful form of lie is the omission — George Orwell
    Trump is a Liar, choosing Zionist Neocon Supreme War Criminals for his administration.
    Trump & his administration are Zionist War Criminals in Cover-Up of illegal U.S. / Israeli wars, Israeli Palestinian murders / theft of their land for 70 years and that Israel did 9/11.
    An authority on 9/11 and America’s predicament, Christopher Bollyn
    “Israel behind the 9-11 attacks — and Iraq wars”
    “Solving 9/11 Ends the War”

    Following is a link to download his excellent book, “Solving 9/11 – The Deception That Changed the World” in pdf format;
    http://bollyn.com/public/Solving_9-11_-_The_Deception_That_Changed_The_World.pdf

  11. Trump knows about New York City real estate.
    Why is he NOT telling us the Truth about this NYC real estate?

    “9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB”
    2776 Architects and Engineers are telling us the U.S. Government is Lying about 9/11
    The U.S. Government is complicit in the murders of 9/11
    3 NYC SKYSCRAPERS WERE DESTROYED BY CONTROLLED DEMOLITION ON 9/11
    Our enemy does not want you to know about the 3rd building, WTC 7. It was not hit by a plane
    This issue exposes the wide and deep corruption of the governments, courts and media
    Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth; http://www.ae911truth.org/

    • Find the paper on which I am the last coauthor regarding WTC on that day. Explains the matter for a professional audience.

      Towers fell due to damage. Big pieces of WTC 1 damage WTC 7 which caught fire and burned down as there was no water pressure for the fire hoses.

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