Why would the White House give an entire press statement on the subject of population/attendee size at the inauguration, a bust relocation, and Twitter in general? There’s no mention of anything that President Trump signed off or the Women’s March or even something remotely important to the whole United States. No, this press statement is much too important that it couldn’t wait until Monday to tell you to stop saying that President Trump is not popular, does not have popular support, or is not drawing the crowds that would consider you “popular.”
This is a record of Sean Spicer, White House Press secretary
Good evening. Thank you guys for coming. I know our first official press briefing is going to be on Monday, but I wanted to give you a few updates on the President’s activities. But before I get to the news of the day, I think I’d like to discuss a little bit of the coverage of the last 24 hours.
Yesterday, at a time when our nation and the world was watching the peaceful transition of power and, as the President said, the transition and the balance of power from Washington to the citizens of the United States, some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting. For all the talk about the proper use of Twitter, two instances yesterday stand out.
One was a particular egregious example in which a reporter falsely tweeted out that the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office. After it was pointed out that this was just plain wrong, the reporter casually reported and tweeted out and tried to claim that a Secret Service agent must have just been standing in front of it. This was irresponsible and reckless.
Secondly, photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall. This was the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall. That had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing, while in years past the grass eliminated this visual. This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past.
Inaccurate numbers involving crowd size were also tweeted. No one had numbers, because the National Park Service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out. By the way, this applies to any attempts to try to count the number of protesters today in the same fashion.
We do know a few things, so let’s go through the facts. We know that from the platform where the President was sworn in, to 4th Street, it holds about 250,000 people. From 4th Street to the media tent is about another 220,000. And from the media tent to the Washington Monument, another 250,000 people. All of this space was full when the President took the Oath of Office. We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural. This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe. Even the New York Times printed a photograph showing a misrepresentation of the crowd in the original Tweet in their paper, which showed the full extent of the support, depth in crowd, and intensity that existed.
These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong. The President was also at the — as you know, the President was also at the Central Intelligence Agency and greeted by a raucous overflow crowd of some 400-plus CIA employees. There were over 1,000 requests to attend, prompting the President to note that he’ll have to come back to greet the rest. The employees were ecstatic that he’s the new Commander-in-Chief, and he delivered them a powerful and important message. He told them he has their back, and they were grateful for that. They gave him a five-minute standing ovation at the end in a display of their patriotism and their enthusiasm for his presidency.
I’d also note that it’s a shame that the CIA didn’t have a CIA Director to be with him today when he visited, because the Democrats have chosen — Senate Democrats are stalling the nomination of Mike Pompeo and playing politics with national security. That’s what you guys should be writing and covering, instead of sowing division about tweets and false narratives.
The President is committed to unifying our country, and that was the focus of his inaugural address. This kind of dishonesty in the media, the challenging — that bringing about our nation together is making it more difficult.
There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable. And I’m here to tell you that it goes two ways. We’re going to hold the press accountable, as well. The American people deserve better. And as long as he serves as the messenger for this incredible movement, he will take his message directly to the American people where his focus will always be.
And with that, a few other updates from the day. The President had a constructive conversation with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada about strengthening the relationship between our two nations. They also discussed setting up additional meetings in the days to come, which we will follow up on. He also spoke to Prime Minister Peña Nieto of Mexico, and talked about a visit on trade, immigration and security that will occur on the 31st. The President will welcome his first foreign leader this Thursday when the United Kingdom’s Theresa May will come to Washington — on Friday.
Tomorrow, the President will oversee his Assistants to the President being sworn in. The staff will then have an ethics briefing, a briefing on the proper use and handling of classified information. Further updates as far as what he will do — oh, and then in the evening, he will have a reception for law enforcement and first responders that helped support the inauguration.
Thank you guys for being here tonight. I will see you on Monday.
Here’s one insight that I will touch upon again in the future: http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/1/21/14347952/trump-spicer-press-conference-crowd-size-inauguration
“Trump’s real war isn’t with the media. It’s with facts.” And, the fact that he had less people at the inauguration or less popular support is something to fight over. After reading this, try re-reading the press secretary’s statement again.
And, then, this particular part from Vox (2017) stood out for me:
“Nobody had numbers, because the National Park Service does not put any out,” [Sean Spicer] insisted. Seconds later, he said: “This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, both in person and around the globe.”
This, along with much else Spicer said, was plainly untrue. But there’s a strategy at work here. The Trump administration is creating a baseline expectation among its loyalists that they can’t trust anything said by the media. The spat over crowd size is a low-stakes, semi-comic dispute, but the groundwork is being laid for much more consequential debates over what is, and isn’t, true.
Delegitimizing the institutions that might report inconvenient or damaging facts about the president is strategic for an administration that has made a slew of impossible promises and takes office amid a cloud of ethics concerns and potential scandals.
It also gives the new administration a convenient scapegoat for their continued struggles with public opinion, and their potential future struggles with reality. This kind of “dishonesty from the media,” Spicer said, is making it hard “to bring our country together.” It’s not difficult to imagine the Trump administration disputing bad jobs numbers in the future, or claiming their Obamacare replacement covers everyone when it actually throws millions off insurance.
And, if you look at Trump’s speech at the CIA, there’s still that hint (reminder?) that the media is “dishonest” and for much of the speech we can see self-aggrandizement. Former CIA Director, John Brennan, isn’t too happy with this speech either. Look over the speech below in video and transcript form and decide for yourself how much (or little) substance there is in his speech.
“Trust me. I’m like a smart person.” – President Trump
Here’s the speech transcript from Lawfareblog (2017):
Well. I want to thank everybody. Very, very special people. And it is true: this is my first stop. Officially. We’re not talking about the balls, and we’re not talking about even the speeches. Although, they did treat me nicely on that speech yesterday [laughter].
I always call them “the dishonest media”, but they treated me nicely.
But, I want to say that there is nobody that feels stronger about the Intelligence Community and the CIA than Donald Trump. [applause]. There’s Nobody. Nobody.
And the wall behind me is very very special. We’ve been touring for quite a while. And I’ll tell you what: twenty … nine? I can’t believe it.. No. Twenty eight. We’ve got to reduce it. That’s amazing. And we really appreciate it what you ‘ve done in terms of showing us something very special. And your whole group. These are really special, amazing people. Very. very few people could do the job you people do.
And I want to just let you know: I am so behind you. And I know, maybe sometimes, you haven’t gotten the backing that you’ve wanted. And you’re going to get so much backing. Maybe you’re going to say “please don’t give us so much backing”. [laughter] “Mr President, please, we don’t need that much backing”.
But you’re going to have that. And I think everybody in this room knows it.
You know, the military, and the law-enforcement generally speaking, — but, all of it — but the military, gave us tremendous percentages of votes. We were unbelievably successful in the election with getting the vote of the military and probably almost everybody in this room voted for me, but I will not ask you to raise your hands if you did. [laughter]
But I would guarantee a big portion. Because we’re all on the same wavelength, folks. We’re all on the same wavelength.
[applause] Alight? [pointing to the crowd] He knows. Took Brian about 30 seconds to figure that one out, right? Because we know. We’re on the same wavelength.
We’re going to do great things. We’re going to do great things. We’ve been fighting these wars for longer than any wars we’ve ever fought. We have not used the real abilities that we have. We’ve been restrained.
We have to get rid of ISIS. We have to get rid of ISIS. We have no choice [applause]
Radical Islamic terrorism – and I said it yesterday – has to be eradicated. Just off the face of the Earth. This is evil. This is evil.
And you know, I can understand the other side. We can all understand the other side. There can be wars between countries. There can be wars. You can understand what happened. This is something nobody could even understand. This is a level of evil that we haven’t seen.
You’re going to go to it, and you’re going to do a phenomenal job. But we’re going to end it. It’s time. It’s time right now to end it.
You have somebody coming on who is extraordinary. You know for the different positions, of secretary of this and secretary of that and all of these great positions, I’d see five, six, seven, eight people.
And we had a great transition. We had an amazing team of talent.
And by the way, General Flynn is right over here. Put up your hand, Mike. What a good guy [applause]
And Reince, and my whole group. Reince. You know Reince? They don’t care about Reince. He’s like, this political guy that turned out to be a superstar, right? We don’t have to talk about Reince.
But, we did. We had just such a tremendous, tremendous success.
So when I’m interviewing all of these candidates that Reince and his whole group is putting in front, it went very, very quickly, and in this case went so quickly. Because I would see six or seven or eight for secretary of agriculture, who we just named the other day. Sunny Perdue. Former Governor of Georgia. Fantastic guy. But I’d see six, seven, eight people for a certain position. Everybody wanted it.
But I met Mike Pompeo, and he was the only guy I met. I didn’t want to meet anybody else. I said “cancel everybody else”. Cancel. Now he was approved, essentially. But they’re doing a little political games with me. You know, he was one of the three.
Now, last night, as you know, General Mattis – fantastic guy – and General Kelly got approved [applause]
And Mike Pompeo was supposed to be in that group; it was going to be the three of them. Can you imagine? All of these guys. People respect … they respect that military sense. All my political people? They’re not doing so well. The political people aren’t doing so well… but you … We’re going to get them all through. But some will take a little bit longer than others.
But Mike was literally — I had a group of, what, we had nine different people? — Now. I must say, I didn’t mind cancelling eight appointments. That wasn’t the worst thing in the world.
But I met him, and I said “he is so good”. Number one in his class at West Point. Now, I know a lot about West Point. I’m a person that very strongly believes in academics. In fact, every time I say, I had an uncle who was a great professor at MIT for 35 years, who did a fantastic job in so many different ways academically. He was an academic genius.
And then they say: “is Donald Trump an intellectual?” Trust me. I’m like a smart person. [laughter] [pointing at Mike Pompeo] And I recognized immediately,
So he was Number 1 at West Point. And he was also essentially number 1 at Harvard Law School. And then he decided to go into the military. And he ran for Congress. And everything he’s done has been a home run.
People like him. But much more importantly to me, everybody respects him.
When I told Paul Ryan that I want to do this, I would say, he may be the only person that was not totally thrilled, right, Mike? Because he said “I don’t want to lose this guy.”
You will be getting a total star. You going to be getting a total gem. He is a gem. And I just …. [applause] You’ll see. You’ll see. And many of you know him anyway. But you’re going to see.
And again: we have some great people going, but this one is something, going to be very special, because this is one of — if I had to name the most important, this would certainly be, perhaps, you know, in certain ways, you could even say my most important.
You do the job like everybody in this room is capable of doing.
And the generals are wonderful and the fighting is wonderful. But if you give them the right direction? Boy does the fighting become easier. And boy do we lose so fewer lives, and win so … quickly.
And that’s what we have to do. We have to start winning again.
You know what? When I was young, And when I was … of course, I feel young. I feel like I’m 30. 35. 39. [laughter]. Somebody said “are you young?” I said “I think I’m young.”
You know, I was stopping when we were in the final month of that campaign. Four stops, five stops. Seven stops. Speeches — speeches — in front of twenty five, thirty thousand people. Fifteen thousand, nineteen thousand, from stop to stop.
I feel young.
But when I was young — and I think we’re all sort of young — when I was young, we were always winning things in this country. We’d win with trade. We’d win with wars.
At a certain age I remember hearing from one of my instructors “The United States has never lost a war”.
And then, after that, it’s like, we haven’t won anything. We don’t win anymore.
The old expression: “to the victor belong the spoils” – you remember? You always used to say “keep the oil”. I wasn’t a fan of Iraq. I didn’t want to go into Iraq. But I will tell you. When we were in, we got out wrong.
And I always said: “In addition to that, keep the oil”.
Now I said it for economic reasons, but if you think about, Mike, if we kept the oil we would probably wouldn’t have ISIS, because that’s where they made their money in the first place. So we should have kept the oil.
But okay. [laughter] Maybe we’ll have another chance.
But the fact is: we should’ve kept the oil. I believe that this group is going to be one of the most important groups in this country towards making us safe, towards making us winners again. Towards ending all of the problems — we have so many problems that are interrelated that we don’t even think of, but interrelated — to the kind of havoc and fear that this sick group of people has caused.
So I can only say that I am with you 1000%. And the reason you’re my first stop is that as you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth. [laughter, applause]
And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the Intelligence Community. And I just want to let you know, the reason you’re the number 1 stop is exactly the opposite. Exactly. And they understand that too.
And I was explaining about the numbers. We did a thing yesterday, the speech, and everybody really liked the speech, you had to right? [applause]
We had a massive field of people. You saw that. Packed.
I get up this morning. I turn on one of the networks and they show an empty field. I say: “wait a minute. I made a speech. I looked out. The field was…. It looked like a million, a million and a half people.” They showed a field where there was practically nobody standing there. And they said “Donald Trump did not draw well”. And I said “well it was almost raining”. The rain should have scared them away. But God looked down and he said “we’re not going to let it rain on your speech”.
In fact, when I first started I said “oh no”. First line, I got hit by a couple of drops. And i said “oh, this is too bad, but we’ll go right through it”. But the truth is: that it stopped immediately. It was amazing. And then it became really sudden, and then I walked off and it poured right after I left – it poured.
But you know, we have something that’s amazing because, we had, it looked honestly, it looked like a million and a half people. Whatever it was. But it went all the way back to the Washington Monument.
And I turn on, with my steak … and I get this network shows 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 people literally around, you know, the little bowl that we constructed. That was 250,000 people. The rest of the 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.
They had another one yesterday which was interesting. In the Oval Office there’s a beautiful statue of Dr Martin Luther King. And I also happen to like Churchill. Winston Churchill. I think most of us like Churchill. He doesn’t come from our country. But he had lot to do with it. He helped us. A real ally.
And as you know, the Churchill statue was taken out. The bust. And as you probably also have read, the Prime Minister is coming over to our country very shortly, and they wanted to know whether or not I’d like it back. And I said “absolutely, but in the meantime we have a bust of Churchill”.
So a reporter for Time magazine. And I have been on their cover like 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all time record in the history of Time magazine. Like it Tom Brady is on the cover of Time magazine, it’s one time, because he won the Superbowl or something, right? [laughter]. I’ve been on for 15 times this year.
I don’t think that’s a record, Mike, that they can ever be broken, do you agree with that? What do you think?
But I will say that, he said something that was very interesting: that “Donald Trump took down the bust, the statue, of Dr Martin Luther King”. It was right there. But there was a cameraman that was in front of it.
So Zeke – Zeke – from Time magazine writes a story about how I took it down. But I would never do that, because I have great respect for Dr Martin Luther King. But this is how dishonest the media is: a big story. And the retraction was like — was it a line? Or did they even bother putting it in?
So I only like to say that because I love honesty. I like honest reporting. I will tell you the final time: although I will say it, when you let in your thousands of other people that had been trying to come in, because I am coming back.
We may have to get you a larger room. [laughter, applause] We may have to get you a larger room.
And maybe – maybe – it’ll be built by somebody that knows how to build and we won’t have columns [laughter] You understand that? We’d get rid of the columns.
I just wanted to really say that I love you. I respect you. There’s nobody that I respect more. You’re going to do a fantastic job. And we’re going to start winning again. And you’re going to be leading the charge.
So thank you all very much. Thank you, beautiful. Thank you all very much.
Have a good day.
I’ll be back. I’ll be back. Thank you.
Please keep rising, America.