President Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway clashed with “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on NBC Sunday over the administration’s false assertion that Trump’s inauguration had the largest crowd in history.
“You’re saying it’s a falsehood,” Conway told Todd. “Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts.”
On Saturday, Spicer used his first official statement to castigate the media for what he called “deliberately false reporting” on the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration.
"Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods," Chuck Todd tells Pres. Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway this morning. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/Ao005dQ13r
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 22, 2017
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe,” Spicer told reporters in the White House Briefing Room. “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”
Spicer was particularly incensed about photos shared on social media by members of the press comparing the crowd at Trump’s ceremony with President Barack Obama’s eight years before.
“Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall,” Spicer said.
Despite the clear visual difference between the two inauguration crowds, Spicer declared that Trump had the largest crowd in history.
“You did not answer the question of why the president asked the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood,” Todd said to Conway on Sunday. “Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on day one.”
“No, it doesn’t,” Conway replied. “Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck.”
Todd laughed at Conway’s assertion that Spicer’s claims were “alternative facts.”
“Wait a minute, alternative facts?” Todd said. “Alternative facts are not facts, they’re falsehoods.”
Conway tried to pivot to bigger issues that concern Americans by rattling off partisan talking points.
“Chuck, do you think it’s a fact or not that millions of people have lost their plans or health insurance or their doctors under President Obama?” Conway said. “Do you think it’s a fact that everything we heard from these women yesterday happened on the watch of Barack Obama? He was president for eight years, Donald Trump’s been here for about eight hours.”
“These are the facts I want the press corps to cover,” she said.
“That was not what yesterday was about,” Todd said. “You sent the press secretary out there to utter a falsehood on the smallest, pettiest thing.”
Conway then continued the crowd-size crusade.
“I don’t think you can prove those numbers one way or the other,” she said. “There’s no way to quantify crowds, we all know that.”
Her response drew more laughter from the “Meet the Press” host.
“You can laugh at me all you want,” Conway said. “I think the way you just laughed at me is very symbolic of the way we’re treated by the press.”
“I’m not laughing,” Todd said. “I’m just befuddled.”
Todd isn’t the only one. On “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace grilled White House chief of staff Reince Priebus over the Trump’s administration’s obsession with the size of the crowd at his inauguration.
“President Trump said in his inaugural address that every decision he makes will be to benefit American families,” Wallace said. “How does arguing about crowd size do that?”
“It really isn’t about crowd size. What it’s about is honesty in the media,” Priebus replied. “The media from day one has been talking about delegitimizing the election. Talking about the Russians, talking about everything you can imagine except the fact that we need to move this country forward.”
Wallace was unmoved.
“You say this is about honesty,” the Fox host said. “But there’s another issue here though, Reince, and that is the president’s honesty. Two things he said yesterday were just flat wrong.”
One, Wallace said, was the false claim that the crowd at the inauguration stretched all the way back to the Washington Monument.
“Take a look at those pictures,” Wallace said, ordering his producers to display aerial images of Obama’s 2009 inauguration and Trump’s on Friday. “Which one is bigger?”
— With Yahoo News’ Colin Campbell contributing reporting
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