Saturday, Sean Spicer held his first press conference as White House Press Secretary. Unfortunately, just like everything else in the Trump Administration so far, it played out in the nightmare scenario.
Spicer took no questions, and began a tirade against the press. Most notably, he asserted — contrary to all evidence — that the press was lying about the size of the crowd that came to view the inauguration, saying “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.”
This is straight up 1984 bullshit, and it’s not hard to see why Trump would assert these lies. He’s like a four year-old, he wants to be the best, and he says he’s the best, even when it’s obvious he isn’t.
In the lead up to the inauguration, reports were coming out that it was going to be a bust. First there was the reports that the inauguration committee was having trouble booking acts. By itself, this isn’t terribly surprising. Most A-list artists are Democrats, cease-and-desist letters issued by a famous musician to either the RNC or a Republican candidate’s campaign committee to stop using their songs is a quadrennial tradition. The ultimate lineup was panned — which again wasn’t surprising — but the lineup was very weak. Toby Keith is perfectly fine, and Lee Greenwood singing “God Bless The USA” is du rigor, but the rest were nobodies and has beens. Look 3 Doors Down took time out of their grueling casino tour to play the inauguration.
Then there were the reports that the number of charter bus permits were down compared to Obama’s 2009 inauguration. (393 applications versus 1200 permits in 2009, and 900 in 2013).
Finally, the day came, and well, it was underwhelming. It wasn’t even close to Obama’s first inauguration, or even his second. Instead it was on par with (albeit slightly lower than) a typical second inauguration.
Prior to the parade, Katy Tur of NBC drove the entire parade route and noticed entire stands being empty.
The DC Metro tweeted out ridership numbers that showed that Trump’s inauguration was below the ridership at 11 am than George W. Bush’s second inauguration, and less than half that of Obama’s first inauguration. Ultimately, DC Metro counted 570,557 rides for inauguration day this year, which is below an average Wednesday.
Even the roll-out was bizarre. When the @POTUS Twitter account changed hands, the background image was changed to Obama’s 2009 inauguration in stead of a generic photo. The ruse was quickly discovered, and the photo was changed twice more during the day. In all honesty, the image was probably picked because its a Getty inauguration photo, and they didn’t want to wait for a new photo, but it was awkward.
The awkwardness continued into the night when pastry chef Duff Goldman noticed that the cake at the Salute To Our Armed Services Ball was identical to the cake he made in 2013 for the Commander in Chief’s Ball. This was confirmed when 2017’s baker Tiffany MacIsaac told the Washington Post that she was asked to duplicate the cake.
Earlier in the day, Trump visited CIA headquarters, supposedly to mend fences with the CIA and the intelligence community after vilifying the IC, and claiming they were making up the alleged connection to Russia in the DNC hacks during the election (more on that in a later post), and then leaking the report outlining the evidence of the hacks and the supposed FSB blackmail sex tape of Trump paying Russian prostitutes to urinate on the bed where Obama had previously slept. While there, Trump meandered into talking about himself and how many people attended the inauguration, saying:
It looked, honestly, it looked like a million-and-a-half people,. Whatever it was it was, but it went all the way back to the Washington Monument. And I turned on — by mistake, I get this network, and it showed an empty field and it said we drew 250,000 people. Now that’s not bad, but it’s a lie. We had 250,000 literally around, you know, in the little bowl that we constructed. That was 250,000. The rest of the, you know, 20-block area all the way back to the Washington Monument was packed.
So we caught them. And we caught them in a beauty and I think they’re going to pay a big price.
He also stated that he was on the cover of Time magazine more than anyone in the history of the magazine. Again, that’s false. He was on it 11 times. 10 times during and immediately following the election, and only once before. Richard Nixon was on the cover 55 times.
Ironically, this speech at the CIA actually hurt the relationship with CIA, since it was all about Trump, and not about the CIA.
It was after this, speech that Spicer met the press and claimed an asserted that Trump’s inauguration was largest ever viewed.
On Sunday, Reince Preiebus went on Fox News Sunday to defend the lie and assert a completely fictitious narrative about the size of the crowds. Most bizarrely, Kellyanne Conway went on CNN and claimed that Spicer wasn’t lying, but rather giving “alternative facts”.