Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Donald Trump has again claimed he had the largest inauguration crowd in history.
In his first televised White House interview, Mr Trump was asked why he spent his first day in office summoning reporters to talk about crowd size, why he talking about crowd size at a meeting with the CIA, and why he then sent his press secretary Sean Spicer out to brief the media on crowd size.
After the inauguration, Mr Spicer told reporters that Donald Trump drew “the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”
This was then described by senior adviser to Mr Trump Kellyanne Conway as providing the media with “alternative facts”.
Mr Trump told ABC News that the media’s reports on his crowd size was an effort to “demean” him.
He said: “Part of my whole victory was that the men and women of this country who have been forgotten, will never be forgotten again.
“Part of that is when they try and demean me unfairly, because we had a massive crowd of people. We had a crowd… I looked over that sea of people, and I said to myself, ‘wow’, and I’ve seen crowds before. Big, big crowds. That was some crowd.”
Following comparisons to Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration, Mr Trump was swift to denounce side-by-side photographs provided by Reuters which showed Mr Obama’s inauguration crowd against his own, claiming the photograph of his inauguration had been “taken early”, before everyone had arrived.
“I had a massive amount of people here. They were showing pictures that were very unflattering, as unflattering -- from certain angles -- that were taken early and lots of other things. I'll show you a picture later if you’d like of a massive crowd,” he told ABC News in the interview.
However, Reuters editor, Jim Bourg wrote on Facebook that he had seen “a lot of inaccurate talk and allegations online about the crowd photos from Friday’s Trump inauguration that are simply not borne out by the FACTS.”
He added: “This photo by Reuters News Pictures staff photographer Lucas Jackson was taken at 12:01:18pm on Friday and not much earlier as many people are trying to claim.”
Mr Trump was sworn in at midday.
In addition, a timelapse video produced by PBS shows that the National Mall, where the inauguration took place, was not full at any stage during Mr Trump’s inauguration.
On January 23, Mr Spicer again briefed journalists on Mr Trump’s crowd size, but emphasized Mr Trump’s combined global viewing figures, which he said in addition to the crowd, made the highest viewing figure in history.
There is no known figure for how many people streamed the inauguration across the world, but if there was, it certainly could surpass previous inaugural audiences.
However, Nielsen, which records the US live television viewing figures, said an estimated 31 million people tuned in to watch the 2017 inauguration, about 19 per cent lower than the number who watched Mr Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
Despite having no clear-cut evidence, Mr Trump maintains he had the biggest audience.
“When I looked at the numbers that have come in from all of the various sources, we had the biggest audience in the history of inaugural speeches,” he said.
“I said the men and women that I was talking to, who came out and voted, will never be forgotten again, therefore I won’t allow you, or other people like you, to demean that crowd and to demean the people that came to Washington DC from faraway places, because they like me, but more importantly they like what I’m saying.”
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