Sunday, January 22, 2017

Presidential lies: Fact-checking Trump's attack on the media

In the aftermath of Trump’s dark and divisive inaugural speech, he once again scape-goated the “dishonest” media in a two-pronged attack. With False Claims, Trump Attacks Media on Turnout and Intelligence Rift reports the New York Times.

President Trump used his first full day in office on Saturday to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd.

In a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency intended to showcase his support for the intelligence community, Mr. Trump ignored his own repeated public statements criticizing the intelligence community, a group he compared to Nazis just over a week ago.

He also called journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” and he said that up to 1.5 million people had attended his inauguration, a claim that photographs disproved.

More on that below.

Trump’s attacks on the media

The NY Times report continues.

Later, at the White House, he dispatched Sean Spicer, the press secretary, to the briefing room in the West Wing, where Mr. Spicer scolded reporters and made a series of false statements.

The main one reported by the NY Times was about the attendance at the inauguration.

Mr. Spicer said that Mr. Trump had drawn “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration,” a statement that photographs clearly show to be false. Mr. Spicer said photographs of the inaugural ceremonies were deliberately framed “to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall,” although he provided no proof of either assertion.

He said news organizations had deliberately misstated the size of the crowd at Mr. Trump’s inauguration on Friday in an attempt to sow divisions at a time when Mr. Trump was trying to unify the country, warning that the new administration would hold them to account.

What? Threats against the free press already?

The second attack came from Trump at his visit to the CIA.

In recent weeks, Mr. Trump has questioned the intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia meddled in the United States election on his behalf. After the disclosure of a dossier with unsubstantiated claims about Mr. Trump, he accused the intelligence community of allowing the leak and wrote on Twitter, “Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

On Saturday, he said journalists were responsible for any suggestion that he was not fully supportive of intelligence agencies’ work.

“I have a running war with the media,” Mr. Trump said. “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.”

“The reason you’re the No. 1 stop is, it is exactly the opposite,” Mr. Trump added. “I love you, I respect you, there’s nobody I respect more.”

Mr. Trump also took issue with news reports about the number of people who attended his inauguration, complaining that the news media used photographs of “an empty field” to make it seem as if his inauguration did not draw many people.

“We caught them in a beauty,” Mr. Trump said of the news media, “and I think they’re going to pay a big price.”

At this very moment, 7:10 AM on Sunday, January 22nd, listening to Trump’s mouthpiece Kellyanne Conway gaslighting the American public on This Week With George Stephanopoulos. George laid out all the evidence that converges on fact that, in contrast to Trump’s and Spicer’s claims, the crowd at the inauguration was not anywhere near what they claimed.

If there ever was any belief that Twump the candidate would morph into Trump the President, abandon hope all ye who are now in the Twumpiverse.

What’s the evidence?

It comes in three forms.

(1) The LA Times reports that Trump’s inauguration is watched by 30.6 million viewers — 7 million fewer than Obama’s first ceremony. “The inauguration of President Trump was watched by 30.6 million television viewers on Friday, 19% below the audience of 37.8 million for President Obama’s first swearing-in ceremony in 2009. … Ronald Reagan drew the largest TV audience for an inauguration in 1981 when 41.8 million viewers watched.”

(2) CNN reports on Comparing Donald Trump and Barack Obama’s inaugural crowd sizes. “Another sign attendance for Trump’s inauguration could be lower: Metro ridership. Per WMATA, the Washington area transit authority, as of 11 am, 193,000 trips had been taken on the city’s subway system. At the same hour in 2009, that number was 513,000, according to WMATA. The same time for the second Obama inauguration saw 317,000 riders, and President George W. Bush’s second inauguration saw 197,000 riders by 11 am.”

(3) Perhaps the most striking evidence is in the form of aerial photos of the mall. CNN has them as does vox.com Trump claims 1.5 million people came to his inauguration. Here’s what the evidence shows.. “We can also compare aerial photographs of the National Mall during Trump’s inauguration with previous ones, like Obama’s inauguration in 2009” and vox.com did that. The photos show farm more people in the mall at Obama’s inauguration. Moreover, there were far more people at the Women’s March on the day after. Vox.com reports Photos: the crowd at the Women’s March vs. Donald Trump’s inauguration. “Attendance of the Women’s March is in some ways harder to gauge, at least using aerial photos, because many of the marchers are not just on the Mall but also lining Independence Avenue, where they’ll be marching west toward the Washington Monument. But from what we can tell from the images we have so far, there are many more people on the Mall and the surrounding streets today than yesterday.”

You might ask what’s the hoopla here. Is crowd size, number TV viewers, and number of Metro riders a BFD? George Stephanopoulos summed it up in response to Conway’s tirade. It’s a big effing deal only because Trump and his minions lied about the size of the inauguration. The media did not seize on this stuff until Trump attacked the “dishonest” media with false claims. And don’t forget Trump’s assertions about the intelligence community came from Trump, not from the media. And then he gaslighted by claiming, falsely, that he had no “feud” with the CIA and other agencies.

All this is a big story because America elected a compulsive liar.

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