23 March 2019
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer strikes an antagonistic tone during a media briefing on Saturday. Photo: Reuters
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer strikes an antagonistic tone during a media briefing on Saturday. Photo: Reuters

White House accuses media of trying to ‘delegitimize’ Trump

The White House has vowed to fight the news media “tooth and nail” over what it sees as unfair attacks on Donald Trump, who was sworn in as US president last Friday. 

Trump said on Saturday that he has a “running war” with the media and accused journalists of underestimating the number of people who turned out for his swearing-in.

In television interviews Sunday, White House officials made clear no truce was on the horizon in the battle with the media, Reuters reports.

“The point is not the crowd size. The point is the attacks and the attempt to delegitimize this president in one day. And we’re not going to sit around and take it,” Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“We’re going to fight back tooth and nail every day and twice on Sunday.”

Priebus repeated White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s assertions on Saturday that the media manipulated photographs of the National Mall in Washington DC to make the crowds on Friday look smaller than they really were.

Aerial photographs showed the crowds were significantly smaller than when Barack Obama took over as president in 2009.

Spicer’s categorical assertion that “this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration – period” was widely challenged in media reports and was lampooned on social media as well.

Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” why the press secretary was uttering provable falsehoods, White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway fired back.

“If we are going to keep referring to our press secretary in those types of terms I think that we are going to rethink our relationship here,” she said.

Conway responded to criticism that the new administration was focusing on crowds rather than on significant domestic and foreign policy issues by saying: “We feel compelled to go out and clear the air and put alternative facts out there.”

Priebus and Conway focused on a press pool report that said the bust of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office after Trump took office.

The report on Friday night was quickly corrected, but Trump called out the reporter by name during a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency on Saturday. Spicer also berated the reporter later in the day.

The sparring with the media has dominated Trump’s first weekend in office, eclipsing debate over policy and Cabinet appointments, Reuters noted.


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