White House press secretary Sean Spicer has asserted that journalists have been unfair to President Donald Trump by barraging his administration with negative coverage. Spicer's comments arrive several days after he blasted the press for reporting that Trump's inauguration crowd was smaller than former President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009.
On Jan. 23, Spicer held his first press conference taking questions from the White House press corps. Addressing his inaccurate statement asserting that Trump's inauguration was the most attended in U.S. history, Spicer said that the press was far too critical of the new president.
"It's not about one tweet," Spicer said, according to USA Today. "It's not about one picture. It's about a constant theme ... the default narrative is always negative."
The press secretary added that he believed there is a "constant attempt to undermine his credibility and movement [Trump] represents."
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Spicer's comments arrive several days after he had accused the press of deliberately lying about Trump's crowd size during his inauguration. On Jan. 21, Spicer blasted reporters for noting that Obama had drawn larger crowds during both of his inaugurations, circulating two aerial images comparing Trump's crowd size and Obama's in 2009.
"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration -- period -- both in person and around the globe," Spicer said, according to Politico.
Spicer had not provided any evidence to back up his claim, and all available data indicates that his assertion was false.
He had said that the aerial image of Trump's inaugural crowd had been taken before he was sworn in when it was actually taken during his inaugural address. The Washington, D.C., metro reportedly found that subway rides that day had overall been 570,557 trips while they had been 1.1 million on the day of Obama's inauguration in 2009.
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Spicer's belief that the media is decidedly negative toward Trump is widely shared by the broader public. In September 2016, a poll conducted by Gallup found that Republican respondents' trust in the media had declined from 32 percent in 2015 to a mere 14 percent in 2016.
In October 2016, a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University found that 55 percent of likely voters believed that the media was biased against Trump, with roughly 90 percent of self-identified Republican respondents agreeing with that sentiment.
On Jan. 22, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway blasted the media reaction to Spicer's statement during an interview with NBC News' Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press."
"Your job is not to call things ridiculous that are said by our press secretary and our president," Conway told Todd. "That's not your job."
Conway added that Spicer's inaccurate statement about the inaugural crowd sizes had been "alternative facts."
That same day, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asserted that the media was trying to delegitimize Trump's administration during an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace.
"It isn't really about crowd size," Priebus said. "What it's about is honesty in the media. The media from day one has been talking about delegitimizing the election."
Wallace pushed back on Priebus' assertion, stating that honesty goes both ways.
"You talk about honesty," Wallace said. "You say this is about honesty. But there's another issue here though, Reince, and that is the president's honest. Two things he said yesterday were just flat wrong."