White House promises to battle attempts by US media to ‘delegitimize’ Trump
During Friday's inauguration, major TV networks across the country juxtaposed Trump's crowd with that of Barack Obama’s first swearing in ceremony of 2009. News outlets concluded that Trump managed to gather a significantly less amount of supporters that his predecessor.
With the inauguration numbers debate reaching fever pitch, Priebus, in an interview with Fox news on Sunday, said the White House will not just sit idly watch news outlets delegitimize Trump.
"The point is not the crowd size. The point is the attacks and the attempts to delegitimize this president in one day," Priebus said. "And we're not going to sit around and take it."
Priebus then shifted focus to the issue of Martin Luther King Jr’s bust, a day after Trump attacked a Time magazine report which mistakenly said the statue of the American civil rights icon had been removed from the Oval Office.
“It could have had explosive ramifications. … It was shoot first, point later,” he said, adding that the White House will "fight back tooth and nail every day and twice on Sunday."
Visiting the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia on Saturday, Trump said one network had estimated a turnout of 250,000 at the National Mall on Friday.
"I made a speech. I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, million and a half people," Trump told CIA staff. "They showed a field where there was practically nobody standing there. And they said, Donald Trump, did not draw well."
In reference to the Time article, Trump said, “But this is how dishonest the media is.”“Now, big story, the retraction was like, where?” he asked. “Was it a line or do they even bother running it?”
The error was later acknowledged by the publication which said that a Secret Service agent and a door had obstructed their reporter’s view of the bust when journalists were allowed into Trump's new office. Later on Saturday, the new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, accused the media of "deliberately false reporting" on the crowd’s size.
"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period!" Spicer said. "These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong."