In a surreal turn, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tonight denied reality, lashed out at the press for its supposed “shameful and wrong” coverage of the size of the crowd that attended President Trump’s January 20 inaugural festivities, instructed the White House press corps on what they “should be writing and covering,” declared that the administration intended to “hold the press accountable,” and left the briefing room without taking questions.
Spicer said that “this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period -- both in person and around the globe.” He is lying. Whether he’s doing it because Trump is making him or whether he actually believes it is immaterial. (In remarks to the CIA earlier in the day, Trump falsely claimed it “looked like a million, million and a half people” attended his inauguration. An estimated 1.8 million attended President Obama’s 2008 inauguration, while The Washington Post reports Trump's crowd was “somewhere closer to 600,000.” )
The official job of the White House press secretary now consists of blatantly lying to the press about matters great and small, and attacking them when they step out of line.
This was a dominance display from a White House that clearly has no regard for the media’s role in the democratic process. Trump’s administration hates reporters who provide critical coverage and wants to crush them.
The administration will seek to lift up openly sycophantic news organizations while crowding out and delegitimizing responsible ones. His media supporters’ calls to deny critical outlets “the privilege” of covering Trump seem to be in sight.
Mother Jones’ David Corn has the question of the hour:
Indeed. What’s next? The Trump White House just declared war on reality -- and on the press. How will they respond?
This is exactly why Media Matters launched a petition calling on the White House Press Association to forcefully declare that they will “close ranks and stand up for journalism” against Trump’s attacks. It's time to stand up to the bullies.