Press Secretary Sean Spicer threw down the gauntlet at the media in an angry statement over what he characterized as misreporting and “fake news.”
Trump echoed a similar theme when he appeared today before employees at the Central Intelligence Agency.
“As you know, I have a running war with the media, they are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth, and they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community,” Trump said, according to reports.
“And I just want to let you know, it is exactly the opposite. I am with you 1,000 percent,” he said.
The administration was obviously nervous about the inaugural turnout. The Interior Department, which traditionally estimates crowd size on the monument grounds, was ordered by the White House to stop tweeting, after repeating a reporter’s observation on the sparse crowds.
At the CIA, Trump estimated the crowd at “a million, million and a half people.”
“This was one of the largest audiences to witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer asserted.
One number was undeniable. About 30.6 million people watched the inauguration on television, more than 7 million fewer than the 38 million who watched Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, according Nielsen.
Spicer also zeroed in on one Tweet out of probably millions on social media to illustrate so-called “fake news.”
A Time magazine reporter casually noted that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office. The reporter noted that he checked twice and couldn’t see it.
But the White House insisted it was there. The reporter later apologized for overlooking it.
The entire episode was surreal against the backdrop of anti-Trump protests around the world. Marches in solidarity with women occurred throughout the day in cities across the country from Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago and Boise, Idaho to Denver.
More than 600 marches took place around the world, according to NBC News.
Protesters also gathered overseas, but anyone who followed the White House news briefing wouldn’t have a clue.
As Trump declared at the CIA, and Spicer clearly demonstrated, the administration intends to fight a war with the media for control of that national narrative.
Whether the media is up to the challenge, remains to be seen.
The major media clearly cowered in the face of right wing criticism over Trump’s ties to Russia, the biggest story of the 2016 election and perhaps the biggest political story since the Nixon administration Watergate scandal.
BuzzFeed, an online “new media” Web site, was the first to publish a series of documents prepared by a retired British intelligence agent detailing explosive allegations about Trump’s deep involvement with Russia and the Kremlin’s efforts to blackmail him.
Without that, the story may never have been fully aired. So far, Trump’s and the right wing propaganda machine’s cries of “fake news” haven’t blunted investigations by intelligence agencies and Congress.
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