Well that was something. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made a public statement this afternoon in which he eviscerated the press for reporting (correctly) that President Trump's inauguration drew smaller crowds than President Obama's.
Spicer was also furious at TIME for claming that the White House removed a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. This story was indeed inaccurate—the bust was not removed.
Trump also slammed the reporter, Zeke Miller, during his press conference at the CIA earlier today. Miller quickly corrected his reporting and apologized to the White House. Sean Spicer even tweeted "Apology accepted."
Correction: The MLK bust is still in the Oval Office. It was obscured by an agent and door.
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) January 21, 2017
But during Spicer's afternoon address to the media, the issue was again raised.
More alarming was Spicer's attacks on the media for pointing out the true fact that there weren't as many people at the inauguration as anticipated. Spicer claimed that the decision to put white covers over the grass on the National Mall made gaps in the crowds more obvious than they had been for previous inaugurations.
"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe," said Spicer. "Attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong."
It isn't shameful to lessen public enthusiasm for the inauguration, given that Trump's inauguration speech was a dark moment for U.S. economic policy. But anyway, there's little reason to believe Trump's inauguration crowds were as large as Obama's. As New York Times correspondent Binyamin Applebaum tweeted, the images speak for themselves.
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) January 20, 2017
Note that the Department of the Interior retweeted the above tweet, which apparently got the agency in trouble with its new boss.
Spicer claimed that the number of people using the D.C. Metro this weekend supported his contention that the Trump crowds were massive, but according to The Washington Post, Metro usage was down significantly: 570,000 trips compared to 1.1 million in 2009 and 700,000 in 2013.
It's true the media has made mistakes when writing about Trump. BuzzFeed made a major one, TIME a lesser one.
But that does not change the fact that Trump lies through his teeth about everything. The argument about inauguration crowds may seem like an unimportant aspect of Trump's lies, but it's deeply symptomatic of the president's commitment to self-aggrandizement. He is a uniquely thin-skinned political figure who can't stand to have the pageantry of his reign mocked or criticized. If you say the emperor has no clothes, be prepared to be accused of peddling fake news.
The denizens of a free society should be disturbed that their president demands everyone recognize the greatness and bigness of his crowds.
Watch Spicer's presser here.