Newly inaugurated President Donald Trump continued his celebratory weekend by stopping by the Central Intelligence Agency on Saturday afternoon to give a stream-of-consciousness-style address praising the nation's spies, regurgitating campaign moments, (once again) arguing that America should have seized Iraqi oil after the 2003 invasion, and bemoaning how America supposedly "never wins anything anymore."
The weirdest part of the whole thing, though, was the loud ovation given by CIA staffers after Trump blasted the media as being "among the most dishonest human beings on Earth."
Listen to the moment, which happens just after the 10:30 mark:
Apparently feeding off the applause, Trump doubled down and claimed, without any evidence at all, that the media had covered up the size of the crowd at his inauguration. He claimed to have seen a report this morning claiming turnout of 250,000 for his speech, but the president said that could not have been true because he saw people lined up "all the way back to the Washington monument" when he spoke.
"That's not bad, but it's a lie," he said. "We caught them. We caught them in a beauty and I'm sure they're going to pay a big price."
Is this really where we are right now? Day One of the new administration and the president feels like the most pressing issue in the country is whether or not the media accurately reported on the number of people who showed up to hear him speak yesterday?
Trump showed during the campaign that he's a man fascinated with the size of, well, many things. At his rallies, he never failed to note the size of the crowd and would frequently ask the cameras to pan around the room to capture it. This became a sort of self-fulfilling promise. Like his poll numbers, the size of his crowds were taken as an indication that he was doing well, and doing well was all that mattered.
I guess we shouldn't be surprised that Trump the president is no different from Trump the candidate, but come on. This is the behavior of a child upset because his classmates failed to attend his birthday party. It's certainly not the behavior of a president who, in Friday's address, promised "the time for empty talk is over; now arrives the hour of action."
It's not just Trump. His press secretary, Sean Spicer, held a briefing on Saturday evening to similarly blast the media over the inaugural attendance figures. As Robby Soave notes, the whole incident is "deeply symptomatic of the president's commitment to self-aggrandizement" and his inability to accept even the most venial slights.
Trump claiming, without any supporting evidence, that the media is lying about him is nothing new. Neither is his vague threats about making the media "pay a big price," as he put it on Saturday at the CIA. He cut off some outlets from covering his campaign when he didn't like what they said about him, but now that he's the president such threats have to be seen in a different light. Coming from a man who said he wanted "to open up" libel laws in order to allow public figures like himself to sue media outlets over negative press, these moments have to be seen for what they are: outright attacks on the First Amendment, coming just a day after Trump swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.
The pivot is coming tomorrow, I'm sure.