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Jan. 21 2017 8:32 PM

White House Press Secretary Lies and Yells at Media. It’s Day 2 of the Trump Presidency.

Donald Trump’s press secretary kept the media waiting for more than an hour today, and then when Sean Spicer finally deigned to appear for his first White House press briefing, he proceeded to hector reporters, tell demonstrable lies, and all but fire himself out of a cannon in the general direction of the press corps. On Day 2 of the Trump presidency, a screeching red-eyed man declared war on the media and reality itself.

The proximate causes of the tantrum were the media’s estimates of the size of the crowd at the inauguration and a journalist’s incorrect report about the removal of an Oval Office bust of Martin Luther King Jr. It turns out the bust had not been removed, after all, a mistake the reporter acknowledged and apologized for. But Spicer, calling it “irresponsible and reckless,” was trying to score some cheap points in order to take on the bigger target—the accurate reporting on the thin crowds at Friday's inauguration.

“Some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting,” Spicer said as he was gradually swallowed by his suit. He added that photos “were intentionally framed in a way to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall.”

But, anyone might say, the photographs are pretty clear, aren’t they? Kind of hard to argue with the side-by-side photos that compared the crowds from a previous inauguration.

The problem, Spicer assured the press in a jaw-dropping prodigy of illogic, is that it was the first time the National Park Service had laid out white panels to protect the grass and that “highlighted where people weren’t standing.” He made Baghdad Bob look like Edward R. Murrow.

In the end, “no one had numbers,” Spicer said, before adding that “this was the largest audience to ever witness the inauguration—period. Both in person and around the globe.”

It’s of course unclear how he could come to such a conclusion, but flat-out lying seems to be part of it. Spicer mentioned Metro ridership to illustrate how huge the inauguration was, when the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority actually tweeted out preliminary numbers indicating that there were fewer riders during this year’s celebration than during the 2009 and 2013 inaugurations. The Washington Post reported that 570,557 people used the city’s metro system on Friday, which was lower than both the 2009 and 2013 inaugurations.

Spicer went on to put the press on notice: “There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable. And I’m here to tell you it goes two ways. We’re going to hold the press accountable as well.”

Then the new press secretary made a point that should have every White House reporter wondering whether he or she shouldn’t start boycotting these types of briefings during the Trump administration: “As long as he serves as the messenger for this incredible movement he will take his message directly to the American people.”

CNN seemed to suspect something was amiss and made the decision not to air the press briefing live. “The decision was to monitor the statement & then report on it,” CNN’s Brian Stelter wrote on Twitter.

White House veterans were evidently shocked by what they heard. “I’ve never seen anything like this where it was so intense, so harsh and passionate right off the beginning,” said CBS’s Major Garrett. Other observers noted how strange the whole thing was. “It is embarrassing, as an American, to watch this briefing by Sean Spicer from the podium at the White House,” conservative commentator William Kristol, who has long been opposed to Trump, wrote on Twitter.

Spicer spoke not long after Trump had personally blasted the media during a speech at the CIA headquarters, where he also criticized their reporting on the inauguration attendance and named the Time reporter who had incorrectly said the president had removed King’s bust from the Oval Office. It could not have been a coincidence that these attacks came on a day that the new president was being protested by crowds vastly outnumbering the celebrants at his party on Friday. Lying worked in the campaign, and now the habit seems to have carried over to the White House. The ball is now in the media’s court.

Jan. 21 2017 8:05 PM

Petition to Release Trump’s Tax Returns Clears Threshold for Official Response

Well, that didn’t take long. Less than a day after it was posted online, the petition calling on President Donald Trump to release his tax returns has garnered more than 158,700 signatures—more than enough to warrant an official response from the White House.

As Slate’s Josh Levin explained on Friday, the petition platform known as “We the People” survived the transition from the Obama administration to the Trump era. According to the rules during the Obama era, any petition that received at least 100,000 signatures within 30 days has to receive an official White House response. It still isn’t clear whether the Trump administration plans to follow the same rules, although they’re still listed on the site.

Jan. 21 2017 7:12 PM

What Trump Supporters in D.C. Thought of the Women’s March

“I think it’s great. I believe in women’s rights, but I also believe in Trump. That’s why I’m out here. I’m not here to protest. I’m just here to support women’s rights. I think it’s a little bit overboard, I really do. We shouldn’t express ourselves like this. So far it’s been civil so I’m enjoying being here.”

Jan. 21 2017 5:55 PM

Trump Accuses Media of Lying About Inauguration Crowd Size During Bughouse CIA Speech

President Donald Trump went to the CIA on his first full day as president in what was supposed to be a symbolic gesture after his harsh criticism of the intelligence community over the past few months. The president may have spent the run-up to the inauguration criticizing the work of the nation’s intelligence agencies, but on Saturday he knew just who to blame for what he characterized as a misrepresentation of his views: the dishonest media.

“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 as people could be heard clapping on the sidelines. “And I just want to let you know … it is exactly the opposite.” The truth is, he said, that “I am with you 1,000 percent.”

While standing in front of a wall that honors CIA agents who have been killed in the line of duty, Trump then went on to flat out lie about the size of the crowd at his inauguration and accuse the media of misrepresenting the facts to make him look bad. The president said the crowd “looked honestly like a million-and-a-half people,” falsely adding that “it went all the way back to the Washington Monument.” But instead of the crowds, the media showed “an empty field and it said we drew 250,000 people. Now that’s not bad, but it’s a lie,” Trump said. Later, his press secretary, Sean Spicer, took it further and said Trump had the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration—period.”

In a bizarre tangent, Trump also said that he got these great crowd numbers despite the fact that it was “almost raining” that should have kept people away. “God looked down and said, ‘We are not going to let it rain on your speech.’ ”

From a general attack on the press, Trump then got specific and berated a Time magazine journalist by name for writing an inaccurate eport claiming Trump had removed the Martin Luther King Jr. bust from the Oval Office. “So Zeke from Time magazine writes the story,” Trump said. “But this is how dishonest the media is.” (The reporter has already publicly apologized.) And then the president went on to brag about the number of times he has been on the cover of Time.

Throughout Trump’s speech people could be heard clapping although in the video it didn’t seem the people sitting in front of the president were the ones cheering. And indeed, the press pool report noted that it was people standing on the side who were clapping. There were, however, some reports that CIA staffers were among those clapping.

Jan. 21 2017 4:08 PM

Overhead Shots Show Massive Women’s March Crowds in Cities Across America

Women’s March crowds at cities across the country on Saturday have grown so large that the only way to capture them is with overhead shots. Below, overhead photos and videos from Washington; Los Angeles; Chicago; New York; Memphis, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; Boston; Raleigh, North Carolina; and more.

Jan. 21 2017 3:50 PM

Watch Madonna Drop F-Bomb Live on CNN During Women’s March on Washington

Madonna was sure to express herself during a surprise Saturday appearance at the Women’s March on Washington. And the pop icon didn’t hold back on her feelings, even dropping in a few expletives during a fiery speech that was carried live on C-Span, CNN, and MSNBC. After the third “fuck,” MSNBC and CNN cut away from the remarks, and CNN apologized.

“It took this horrific moment of darkness to wake us the fuck up,” Madonna said. “Let’s march together through this darkness and with each step know that we are not afraid, that we are not alone, that we will not back down, that there is power in our unity and that no opposing force stands a chance in the face of true solidarity. And to our detractors that insist that this march will never add up to anything, fuck you. Fuck you. It is the beginning of much-needed change, change that will require sacrifice.”

Jan. 21 2017 3:04 PM

Was the Women’s March Bigger Than the Inauguration? Let’s Compare Images.

Crowd estimates are always tricky, and comparisons even more so. But side-by-side photos do make it look like more people were on the mall during Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington than during Donald Trump’s inauguration the previous day. Different angles can certainly distort things. But taking a look at photos from the Mall grabbed from the EarthCam website sure make it look like there were more people on the streets during the march.

Here's an image CNN grabbed from the webcam at 12:15 p.m. Eastern on Friday during Trump's inauguration:


Here's an image grabbed from the webcam at 12:05 p.m. Eastern on Saturday:


The difference is even more impressive when you consider that the march also filled the streets around the mall.

Although not as good for side-by-side comparisons, other photos also put on display the sheer number of people that took part in the Saturday march.

The top of the Washington Monument is shrouded in clouds as people pack the National Mall for the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Of course, that also doesn’t take into account the hundreds of thousands of people who took part in “sister marches” across the country and around the world.

Jan. 21 2017 2:02 PM

Trump Deletes One of First Tweets as President After Writing He Is “Honered” to Serve

Donald Trump may want to start using spellcheck before posting a tweet now that he is president. On his first full day as commander-in-chief, Trump posted on his old account a tweet that read, “I am honered to serve you, the great American people, as your 45th President of the United States!” Twelve minutes later, he erased that tweet and fixed the spelling before posting it again.

Jan. 21 2017 12:45 PM

Women’s March on Washington Beats Expectations: Half a Million Descend on Mall

Organizers and city officials were expecting around 200,000 protesters in Washington on Saturday for the Women’s March on Washington. But the turnout surpassed all expectations as the demonstration grew into a more than a half-million–strong force that could turn out to be larger than the crowds that gathered for Donald Trump’s inauguration. The result of this much larger-than-expected crowd was evident to anyone who tried to join using any form of public transportation as trains and subways overflowed with people trying to make it into downtown Washington.

Washington’s metro system wrote on Twitter than 275,000 people had ridden the trains, noting that was eight times the normal volume for a Saturday. It also said that most parking was at or near capacity. That is quite the contrast from the tweets WMATA sent out on Friday during the inauguration, saying there was lots of parking available and how the number of riders was much lower than previous inaugurations.

Jan. 21 2017 12:01 PM

National Park Service Resumes Tweeting After Shutdown Following Anti-Trump Messages

All the Interior Department Twitter accounts were back online Saturday after they were suddenly shut down Friday following two retweets of messages that were not exactly friendly to the new president. The National Park Service apologized on Saturday for what it called “mistaken RTs from our account yesterday.”

On Friday the National Park Service surprised many by retweeting a journalist who had posted side-by-side photos of the crowds at Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration and President Donald Trump’s inauguration.The account had also retweeted a message that referenced how certain sections, including civil rights and climate change, had been removed from the White House website following the inauguration.