Senior aides to President Donald Trump warned him against lashing out at the media over what he saw as unfair coverage regarding the size of his inauguration crowd, but he sided with other aides who favored the dressing down.
Trump became angry Friday after seeing the media seize on photos comparing the relatively small size of his inauguration crowd to that of former President Obama, reports The New York Times. He forgot about it in the celebration and festivities Friday, but grew resentful again Saturday morning and wanted to push back, especially after he learned a journalist had falsely reported the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.
Some of his senior aides urged him to let it go and focus on his governing priorities, reports TheNYT. When they left a meeting with Trump they believed he was on the same page, and was focused on making nice with the CIA at a planned visit later that day. But other aides, including White House press secretary Sean Spicer, shared his outrage at the media coverage and wanted to hit back.
Spicer called a brief press conference later Saturday in which he berated the media for “deliberately” reporting falsely about the size of the crowds, and then offered a series of statements that have since been called into question or disproven to back up his assertion that Trump’s crowd was the largest in history. Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway then went on NBC to do damage control after the media accused Spicer of lying in the press conference, and said he was offering “alternative facts.”
The combative move was widely seen as a huge mistake on the first day of the new administration, and Trump’s “lack of discipline” in staying on his governing priorities “troubled” some of his senior aides, TheNYT reports. Others, however, maintain the negative media reports are mere background noise that will fade away from public view if he is successful in governing.
“Ultimately this is about governing,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has advised Trump, told TheNYT. “There are two things he’s got to do between now and 2020: He has to keep America safe and create a lot of jobs. That’s what he promised in his speech. If he does those two things, everything else is noise.”
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