Spiced up crowd sizes

Despite Donald Trump saying he would hit the ground running in his presidency, dealing with the important things, his first appearance was in front of a receptive (and self selected) CIA crowd where he blasted media as amongst the most dishonest human beings he knows, and blew his own trumpet. He is well known for his self praise.

Trump is known to be very keen on ratings, and has made claims about false reporting of crowd sizes at his inauguration.

His press secretary Sean Spicer called a special press conference, which turned out to be a little more than an attack on media while making more claims about crowd sizes. Claims that have been proven to be false, which is ironic given he blasted the media for false reporting.

Gezza reports:

Aljazeera 7am News. “Kellyanne Conway says Sean Spicer inaccurately described crowds.”

The Atlantic reports: Trump’s Press Secretary Falsely Claims: ‘Largest Audience Ever to Witness an Inauguration, Period’

In his first official White House briefing, Sean Spicer blasted journalists for “deliberately false reporting,” and made categorical claims about crowd-size at odds with the available evidence.

High irony.

In his first appearance in the White House briefing room since President Trump’s inauguration, Press Secretary Sean Spicer delivered an indignant statement Saturday night condemning the media’s coverage of the inauguration crowd size, and accusing the press of “deliberately false reporting.”

Standing next to a video screen that showed the crowd from President Trump’s vantage point, Spicer insisted that media outlets had “intentionally framed” their photographs to minimize its size. After attacking journalists for sharing unofficial crowd-size estimates—“no one had numbers,” he said—he proceeded to offer a categorical claim of his own. “This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe,” he said, visibly outraged. “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”

But it was Spicer who was wrong.

Steve Doig, a professor of journalism at Arizona State University, has provided estimates of crowds at past inaugurals, and is well-versed in the challenges they present.

Based on the photographs available in the media showing the part of the crowd that was on the mall, he said, “the claim that this is the largest ever is ludicrous on its face.”

Spicer produced numbers that have been refuted.

The only numbers Spicer cited were ridership numbers from WMATA, the D.C. public-transit system. “We know that 420,000 people used D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural,” he said.

But the figures Spicer offered were not consistent with those provided by WMATA officials, who told the Washington Post that 570,557 riders used the Metro system between its 4 a.m. opening and its midnight closure on Friday. That number falls short of both President Obama’s 2009 and 2013 inaugurations, which saw 1.1 million trips and 782,000 trips respectively.

And it was not just fewer in attendance.

Preliminary Nielsen figures also show that Trump’s inauguration received fewer average TV viewers in the United States than Obama’s first inauguration. The Los Angeles Times reported that 30.6 million viewers tuned in for Friday’s ceremonies, 19 percent below the 37.8 million viewers who watched in 2009.

Why does this matter?

It shows that Trump has carried an obsession with ratings (he recently tweeted that the new ‘Apprentice’ didn’t rate as well as when he ran it) into his presidency.

It shows that claims of ‘false news’ directed at media are not always correct, and in fact his press secretary appears to have presented false information and false claims.

And it shows that despite having a big and game changing agenda ego may be more important to Trump than communicating what he is going to do.

There also seems to be a deliberate strategy to divert public and media attention, perhaps in this case from the huge women’s march protests.

The media certainly need to up their game substantially, but as part of that they need to still hold the new president to account. If they are pressured into reporting more thoughtfully and accurately that will be a good thing.

And if Trump and Spicer divert and try to spin fake news they should be held to account on that.

I’ve just watched a number of video clips from Fox News, and there are very mixed reactions to Trump’s CIA speech and to Spicer’s attack. Some support Trump and criticise his critics, but others are very critical of Trump’s first weekend as PR president, including Fox’s political editor Chris Stirewalt.

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18 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  23rd January 2017

    It’s all got off to a fantastic start, hasn’t it ? With the emphasis on fantasy.

    Reply
    • Media will have to learn to look the other way – that is to not dwell on Trump’s diversions but look at and report on what is actually important (not that a blatantly lying president isn’t important but that’s a well established and substantiated story).

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  23rd January 2017

        Perhaps somebody should be investigating whether he is being paid a huge amount into an undeclared account to destroy America?

        Reply
        • I suspect that those behind the Trump movement think that taking over the Republican Party and taking over the country is a grand plan in which the end justifies the means, but the chances of unintended consequences are fairly high.

          Reply
    • Joe Bloggs

       /  23rd January 2017

      Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. You’re saying it’s a falsehood, and they’re giving – our press secretary, Sean Spicer, gave alternative facts to that.

      – Kellyanne Conway to Chuck Todd

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11786905

      An insigghtful article on how the new US Administration has a complete distain for facts and truth, and why they refuse to recognise reality. Instead they make up their own ‘alternative facts’. Meanwhile the truth has been rebranded as “media distortion”

      They get away with this because the Alt-White are happy to accept the lies and duplicity of the new presidency rather than face reality. “It’s all media lies. eh”… We’re even seeing it in some of the asinine comments from the Alt-White who post here.

      “Fake news” and “alternative facts” have become blunt weapons to beat objectors up when we point out how blatant the lies of the new administration are, or how corrupt, or how misogynistic or xenophobic or racist the new swamp is.

      “Welcome to our new political reality – or rather, realities.”

      Reply
      • David

         /  23rd January 2017

        “Welcome to our new political reality – or rather, realities.”

        What purpose does reality serve? The quotes below are from one of the most privileged women to ever live. Comments made simply because someone she doesn’t like has been elected President. Many people are going to look at both sides of this and decide Trump is more in touch with reality than those protesting him.

        “Yes, I’m angry. Yes, I’m outraged. Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House, but I know that this won’t change anything,”
        “Welcome to the revolution of love, to the rebellion, to out refusal as women to accept this new age of tyranny, where not just women are in danger but all regionalized people. Where being uniquely different, right now, might truly be considered a crime.”

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  23rd January 2017

          Alternative facts would surely be, er, facts.

          A boy ran into a shop, grabbed the fire extinguisher off the wall and ran away with it . This is, of course, theft.

          BUT the boy was trying to save a life and didn’t want to waste time with explanations.

          Reply
  2. Duperez

     /  23rd January 2017

    We’re all flawed individuals but when Mr and Mrs Trump lined up at the “Flaws” window they gobbled up way more than their share for their baby Donald.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  23rd January 2017

      They also took far more than their share of ego and vanity.

      Reply
    • PDB

       /  23rd January 2017

      The Clintons are no different. The fact some people can’t see that Trump and Clinton are really just different heads of the same self-obsessed beast astounds me.

      Reply
  3. Fake or not this trumps the inauguration claims.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  23rd January 2017

      Dog numbers, possibly ?

      I do see a lot of the Wood family there.

      I ‘watched it’, but only because it was on the news and I was watching the news anyway.

      Reply
  4. Joe Bloggs

     /  23rd January 2017

    It will be interesting to see what the media does to counteract the blatant medacity of the new administration…

    IMO they would do well to stop broadcasting these bloviations live and start presenting extracts afterwards, together with context and fact-checking. That’s the only way they’ll counter the bigotry and mythomania emanating from the White House.

    Reply
    • David

       /  23rd January 2017

      “start presenting extracts afterwards, together with context and fact-checking”

      You want a media who have abysmally low trust ratings to filter, spin and fact-check?

      How on earth is this any different to what they have been doing for the entire election campaign?

      Reply
      • PDB

         /  23rd January 2017

        The Trump/MSM feud is essentially one accusing the other of telling the most lies (both on the campaign trail & now), a race to the bottom where no one wins.

        Reply
  5. Put this in here – I feel it is relevant.

    The Australian has another view entirely on the Marches, and one that I concur with. I’ve reproduced it in full as they’re subscription only.

    “Yesterday’s “women’s marches” in the US and around the world were, at their core, anti-democratic. This was just mass petulance.

    Sure, everyone has a right to protest. But this wasn’t about anything President Donald Trump has done: he was only installed on Friday.

    These protesters were stomping their feet at the outcome of the election. Everyone hates losing and elections are important but there are always losers.

    Smashed windows and burned cars on Friday, chanting crowds and ranting pop stars on the weekend, but Trump is still President.

    We’ve had silly debates about comparative crowd sizes (parade envy?) and fake news stories about a bust of Martin Luther King being moved from the White House (it wasn’t) and, yes, some of this nonsense has been fuelled by the President himself.

    But such media sideshows, aimed at mocking Trump, tend to fuel his support outside the Beltway. They amplify his core message — the theme of his inauguration address — that an outsider has moved in to shake up the Washington political and media establishment.

    There wasn’t one clear policy or action the weekend protesters were rallying against. They are united against the Trump presidency — the vibe of the thing.

    Fair enough — they all have the right — but the time to stir up opposition to Trump was in the lead-up to the election. A mass movement of people marching to polling booths in Democrat states won by the Republican nominee would have made a difference.

    Not enough of them were enthused about Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton, who was, at best, pedestrian, offering only more of the same.

    So the political imperative for the protests was belated, on the one hand: the election is done. And it was premature, on the other: Trump hasn’t done anything yet.

    There was, of course, the feminist element — these were women’s marches. Clinton lost the election to a man who, on any objective level, lacked the political experience or character traits to make him an ideal candidate.

    The fact Trump was able to win was an indictment on Clinton herself and her campaign. She chose to run in large part on identity — vote for me because I am a woman — and this didn’t work with enough women, let alone men. Yet she is offered up as the martyr.

    (Many Trump critics point to the popular vote — winning that has never been the aim of the US presidential contest. So campaigns are tuned to winning individual states rather than a national majority. Who knows what the result would have been with different campaigns aimed at winning the popular vote. It is disingenuous and weak to try and change the terms of the contest after losing it.)

    In the past Trump has said and done many things that most of us would regard as crass and sexist. Even during the campaign some of his references to Clinton were, to use a word, deplorable.

    Yet if feminists want to rail against injustices to women, there are far more pressing issues around the globe than oafishness in the Oval Office; especially when you recall that Clinton defended her own husband when he was exposed for exploiting and harassing women from that same presidential office.

    Whether it is female genital mutilation, forced marriages, rights to education and work, domestic violence and even the right to show faces in public, there is no shortage of outrageous subjugation of women around the world, with elements of it replicated even in Western democracies such as the US.

    Protest against that.

    Now we have Hollywood actors who live behind secure walls in multi-million-dollar mansions decrying increased fortification of the US border. And the stars of shallow, violent and amoral movies offer themselves as public arbiters of political morality. Spare us.

    This is no defence of Trump — he has, after all, been a birther. But the protesters claim moral superiority. They claim higher aspirations.

    If Trump grates with you — wait for him to do something in office and then criticise it.

    Better still, if you are a US citizen, mobilise next time to
    vote for a better candidate in order to defeat him.

    That’s how democracy works.”

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/chris-kenny/act-of-mass-petulance-spare-us-the-shallow-arbiters-of-morality/news-story/b9c1cd20ad175e387337143742d56f45

    Reply
  6. Life can be quite tough and living to an acquired set of moral principles can be even tougher, regardless of how those moral principles were obtained. The sooner the “women” of the US realise that perceived utopias where everyone loves everyone else, and helps the deprived and ensures that peace prevails is not going to happen. Blacks versus whites, coloured versus black and whites, whites versus coloured, educated westerners versus uneducated other ethnicities, religious beliefs, family violence, corruption, greed etc etc. What a waste of effort, I see they are asking what next, what should we do next with this huge group of supporters. Well, I have a suggestion, take the 2 million marchers and say the 4 hours they spent on the march, plus the costs of travel. food and drink, and put them together and spend the equivalent time ad money and effort like providing labour to build Women’s Shelters, setting up and staffing food delivery for the truly poor, sorting out environmental hazards, cleaning up water ways etc. Then they will have made some worthwhile contributions, marching and slogans are only productive of dissent and hate. Or have I missed something genuinely useful that has been achieved by the march.

    Reply
  7. Kitty Catkin

     /  23rd January 2017

    The tiny-headed Mr Spicer was really getting desperate when he said that in previous years, the grass was uncovered so that it looked as if there were more people there than there were, whereas this time the grass was covered (grass in Washington in January ?) so that it looked as if there were fewer….I think that we can all tell the difference between grass blades and people. I know that what I laughingly call a lawn is empty of people. The two photos side by side were of the same place. so his claims that the photos were selective is rubbish.

    Reply

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