Protesting what he described as crushingly negative coverage of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said crowd size comparisons damaged the new administration’s morale.
“The default narrative is always negative,” Spicer said during a rapid-pace press briefing debut Monday. “And that’s demoralizing.”
It was Spicer’s first appearance behind the podium since he delivered a furious tirade Saturday against the press for their accurate coverage of crowds at Trump’s inauguration. That session, which misstated several facts, ended with Spicer walking away as reporters shouted their queries.
Monday’s briefing was more cordial, and Spicer was careful to avoid the areas he got wrong on Saturday. But his explanation for the combative response to the crowd size issue was nonetheless his most expansive answer in a session studded with questions about economic policy and foreign matters.
“There is this constant theme to undercut the enormous support that he has,” Spicer said. “And I think it’s just unbelievably frustrating when you are continually told it is not big enough, not good enough, you can’t win.”
He said Trump felt discouraged when news outlets began showing comparison pictures between his inauguration and former President Barack Obama’s. The views Trump saw from the Capitol’s West Front didn’t match what television networks were showing, Spicer said.
“It’s a little demoralizing,” Spicer said, “because when you are sitting there and you are looking out and you are in awe of just how awesome that view is and how many people are there and you turn on the television and you see shots comparing this and that.”
Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said over the weekend “there’s an obsession by the media to delegitimize this president.”
“We are not going to sit around and let it happen,” Priebus said on Fox. “We are going to fight back tooth and nail every day, and twice on Sunday.”
The administration’s view, according to a longtime Trump aide who spoke on condition of anonymity, is that journalists have seized on Trump’s popular vote loss, intelligence community findings regarding Russian interference in the election and inauguration crowd size counts, all in order to “delegitimize” the new president.