Trump attacks media over crowd photos


President Donald Trump has accused the media of dishonestly reporting the size of the crowd at his inauguration.

He said the crowd had reached the Washington monument as he spoke at the US Capitol, despite photographic evidence to the contrary.

Later, his White House press secretary said it had been “the largest audience to ever see an inauguration, period”.

On Saturday, millions in the US and around the world protested against Mr Trump’s new administration.

The largest US rally was in the capital Washington, which city officials estimated to be more than 500,000-strong. By most estimates, it surpassed the crowd at Friday’s inauguration.

The aim was mainly to highlight women’s rights, which activists believe to be under threat from the new administration.

Mr Trump did not mention the protests during a bridge-building visit to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on Saturday but instead turned on the press.

He accused the media of inventing a feud between him and the intelligence community and he called reporters “among the most dishonest human beings on earth”.

Mr Trump said TV footage and photos of his inauguration had painted an inaccurate picture.

“It looked like a million and a half people” there on Friday, he said, rubbishing media reports that there were as few as 250,000 people.

He also said the crowd extended all the way back to the Washington Monument, although this claim is contradicted by aerial shots from the day.

Later, White House press secretary Sean Spicer berated reporters at a news conference over photographs that had shown large, empty spaces during the ceremony.

“This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe,” he said in a fiery statement.

“These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm about the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”

In his first ever White House briefing, Sean Spicer rounded on reporters in a manner few here can remember.

Echoing President Trump’s charge of dishonesty earlier in the day, Mr Spicer zeroed in on reports that the attendance at Mr Trump’s swearing-in ceremony had been lower than that for Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009 and 2013.

Mr Spicer went on to issue a thinly-veiled warning to reporters covering the Trump presidency, saying the new administration intended to “hold the press accountable”.

Precisely what he means by that is unclear, but the statement has left many veterans of the White House press pool deeply concerned.