In his first formal White House press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer complained the media is “demoralizing” President Trump with reports Trump’s inauguration crowd was not record setting, calling it part of a “negative…default narrative.”
Spicer, who had thrashed media over inauguration crowd size reports on Saturday, kicked off what seemed to be a stab at a re-set on a light note: “I was going to start with a little recap of the inauguration but I think we’ve covered that pretty well,” Spicer began, saying he’d emailed Obama’s press secy Josh Earnest after Saturday to tell him his status as the press’s favorite still stands.
But, when CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Spicer why he and Trump seemed to go out of their way over the weekend to thrash media coverage of his inaugural crowd, Spicer replied, “It’s not just about a crowd size; it’s about this constant ‘He’s not going to run…He’s going to drop out… there’s no way he can win Pennsylvania, no way he can win Michigan’,” Spicer complained. “This constant theme to undercut the enormous support he has, it’s unbelievably frustrating when you’re constantly told, ‘it’s not big enough, it’s not good enough, you can’t win’.”
“He’s gone out there and defied the odds, over and over and over again. And he keeps getting told what he can’t do by his narrative that’s out there and he exceeds it every time,” Spicer continued. “And I think there is an overall frustration when you turn on the television over and over and get told there is this narrative.”
“The default narrative,” he said, “is always negative.”
“I’ve never seen it like this,” Spicer said.
Spicer doubled down on his claim that Trump’s inauguration being the most viewed ever. On Saturday, Spicer had insisted, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period. Both in person, and around the globe.”
Today, however, he said viewing of the inauguration set a record if you add those who attended in person as well as TV viewing worldwide, and worldwide viewing on alternate screens. To make his point, he cited Nielsen’s report that nearly 31M watched via multiple TV networks (a number that falls short of Obama’s 38M in ’09 and Ronald Reagan’s record 42M) and added CNN’s 16.9 million live steam starts. That is a figure in which one person would be counted as many times as he had opened and closed his browser while checking in on CNN’s live stream feed. It’s also short of the 21M streams CNN said it enjoyed during Obama’s first inauguration.