By Landry Harlan
BU News Service
Update: President Trump’s White House press secretary Sean Spicer backed up Trump’s remarks about the inauguration crowd size in a prepared statement later Saturday afternoon, accusing them of “deliberately false reporting.”
“This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said. “Both in person and around the globe. No one had numbers. Because the National Park Service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out.”
Approximately 30.6 million people tuned in on television to watch Trump’s inauguration on Friday, according to ratings data from Neilsen. Barack Obama’s audience averaged 38 million in 2009.
President Donald Trump criticized the media’s coverage of Inauguration Day during a press conference at the CIA headquarters on Saturday, claiming that they misrepresented the size of the crowd.
“I get up this morning and I turn on one of the networks and they show an empty field,” Trump said. “I said wait a minute, I made a speech, I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, a million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there.”
According to the Financial Times, the 2017 inaugural crowd estimate for President Trump was 250,000, compared to the 1.8 million that attended Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.
Trump suspected that the overcast conditions on Friday contributed to the low turnout, but he added that the rain didn’t start till after his speech.
“It was almost raining, the rain should have scared them away, but God looked down and he said ‘we are not going to let it rain on your speech,'” Trump said.
The purpose of the press conference was to ease concerns that Trump would continue to clash with the CIA as questions continue to circulate about Russia’s influence on the election.
Trump told the assembled crowd that no one would support the intelligence community more than he will and blamed the media for making up a “feud” between them.
“I have a running war with the media; they are the most dishonest people on earth,” Trump said.