As side-by-side photographs comparing Friday's Washington Mall crowd to that of the 2009 inauguration flooded the internet, The New York Times reported that Donald Trump's inauguration saw about one-third the audience that Barack Obama drew for his first term. Meanwhile, former director of crowd logistics Dan Gross estimated the Trump crowd at 250,000, compared to 2009's 1.8 million, according to The Washington Post. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, however, insisted in a press conference on Saturday evening that "this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," CNN reports — a statement that every inauguration photograph proves to be untrue. Spicer's first press conference didn't contain only one misstatement.
He went on to blame the appearance of a smaller crowd on the Washington Mall's floor coverings and supposed magnetometers, saying, "This is the first time in our nation's history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall," and insisted this "had the effect of highlighting areas people were not standing." The same coverings were used for Obama's 2013 inauguration, as you can see here. As for security clearance points, which Spicer claimed prevented "hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall," there were no magnetometers (an X-ray style security checkpoint, of the sort you pass through in airports) used on the mall at all, a spokesperson from the United States Secret Service told CNN. Former White House Press Secretaries Jay Carney and Ari Fleischer responded to Spicer's remarks on Twitter, with Carney highlighting that a press conference based on lies is "not normal."
As for President Trump, The New York Times reports that he spent his first day in office perpetuating what he called his "running war with the media." While addressing the CIA earlier that day, Trump said that journalists are "among the most dishonest beings on earth" and accused the media of using photographs of "an empty field" in an attempt to make him appear unpopular. Today on Meet The Press, when asked about Spicer's false statements, President Trump's counsellor Kellyanne Conway accused Chuck Todd of being "overly dramatic." She offered that Spicer had merely been providing "alternative facts." "Look, alternative facts are not facts," Todd responded. "They're falsehoods." Watch the clip below.