There was enough reporting on President Donald Trump's relatively tiny inaugural crowds to send Trump into a series of tantrums, but some in the corporate political media chose to try and stay on Trump's good side, and one prominent member of that group is even bragging about it.
President Donald Trump raged about coverage of his tiny inaugural crowds during his speech at CIA headquarters Saturday, then sent his new White House press secretary out to command reporters not to cover the larger crowds at the massive Women’s Marches:
TRUMP: 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, million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there. And they said, Donald Trump did not draw well. I said, 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.
SPICER: 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 protestors today in the same fashion.
SPICER: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.
Trump followed those petulant lies with a tweet Sunday morning disparaging the marchers, who clearly have taken up residence in his head:
Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2017
It remains to be seen just how vociferously the press will fight back, but amid the encouraging signs are some discouraging ones. On Inauguration Day, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer continually gushed about the crowd size, despite the evidence that everyone could see. Even more remarkably, though, This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos fairly boasted to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway that his network, the influential American Broadcasting Company, had barely mentioned the crowd size, if at all (emphasis mine):
STEPHANOPOULOS: I do want to get to this issue of accountability, though, because you all make that point often, but you had instances yesterday where both the president and Sean Spicer talked about the reporting on the crowd side and repeated things that just aren’t true.
CONWAY: George, the crowd size is actually not a very animating topic to me for a very simple reason. He had hundreds of thousands of people here, there’s no question. I mean I was on the platform where the president was. We saw crowds as far as the eye can see. But presidents are not judged by their likability ratings among contemporaries or the crowd sizes at their inauguration, they’re judged by their competence —
STEPHANOPOULOS: I completely agree with that. Let me just — let me just step in there, because I completely agree with that. We spent 11 hours on the air on Friday during the inauguration, barely talked about the crowd size, if we brought it up at all. We spent time talking to people in the crowds. The question is, why does the president choose to talk about that at the CIA? Why does he send his press secretary out to talk about it in his first White House briefing and say things that aren’t true?
CONWAY: And, George, I would just say about crowd size, first of all, there was rain, the downpour that was reported and I think it deterred many people from coming. But there were hundreds of thousands of people here.
Because the evidence is so clear, Conway was forced to contradict Trump’s assessment of “a million-and-a-half people” in the crowd, and despite the fact that Trump claimed God would not “let it rain” on his speech, blamed the rain for the poor turnout.
Stephanopoulos deserves some credit for calling out the new White House for lying, but failing to mention the plainly obvious and newsworthy fact that Trump’s inaugural crowd was tiny is not something of which to be proud. Neither is repeatedly agreeing that clear evidence of Trump’s lack of a mandate is unimportant. Had Trump not sent Spicer out to lie about it, ABC News’ viewers would be none the wiser.
The Trump administration continues to demonstrate its unfitness to govern, its willingness to lie, and now, its expectation that the press go along with those lies or else. Corporate media attempts to stay on their good side by ignoring facts should be met with the same resistance with which Trump’s lies are met.