This was their first message to the world
By now, we’ve all seen the pictures of the historic Women’s March on Washington DC and its sister marches around the U.S. and the rest of the world. While the National Parks Service intentionally does not calculate numbers for protests on or near the National Mall, countless aerial photographs confirm that it was a significantly larger crowd than came out just the day before for President Trump’s inauguration. And when you combine numbers from the other rallies where firmer estimates are available, it’s shaping up to be the single largest day of protest in global history.
Those are the facts. Unfortunately, Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer used his very first press conference to openly lie about these simple facts. And the chilling message it sent should not only upset those who follow politics or the media but anyone who demands transparency and honesty from their government. “Some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting,” Spicer said to the reporters in attendance.
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” he continued, a statement that was quickly disproved not only by the estimated physical number in attendance but in television ratings, which showed less people watched the inauguration than watched President Obama’s first swearing in back in 2009.
Far worse, Spicer used the White House podium to then verbally threaten those in attendance, telling them they should be covering Trump’s “historic” moment instead, saying, “That’s what you guys should be writing and covering.”
As CNN noted, Spicer made a number of false statements including:
- Falsely reporting the number in attendance and watching on TV
- Falsely reporting the number who used Washington, DC’s Metro system to attend the inauguration vs. how many used the same system to attend Obama’s.
- Falsely claiming the National Parks Service restricted access to the National Mall, denying would-be inauguration attendees the opportunity to get up close
After finishing his barrage of incorrect facts and verbal tirades, Spicer simply left the podium without taking questions. It was such an over-the-top performance that reports suggest even Trump was upset with how far Spicer went in his remarks.
Even a number of former White House press secretaries, both Republicans and Democrats, said the display was an embarrassment.
Plus, as others have noted, this sets a terrible precedent. Ultimately, inauguration attendance is a superficial debate. It won’t change the election results. And the events themselves only go back a few decades. For example, only 15,000 people came to see Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981 and he went on to have a hugely successful presidency, even if you disagree with everything he did. Also, it appears fewer people came out to see Bill Clinton’s first inauguration than Trump’s but that doesn’t say anything about how either man has or will govern as president.
What it does say is that if Trump’s press secretary used his very first interaction with the American public to lie about simple facts, what happens when the government reports numbers of U.S. casualties during a military conflict? What happens when economic numbers come out about jobs, GDP, etc? Like in Putin’s Russia, will the slogan of making America Great Again stand triumphant over facts on the ground? That’s why every American should be deeply concerned no matter who you voted for.