Margaret Sullivan writes: The presidency is not a reality show, but President Trump on his first full day in office made clear that he’s still obsessed with being what he once proudly called “a ratings machine.”
He cares enough about it to send his press secretary, Sean Spicer, out to brazenly lie to the media in his first official briefing.
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe,” Spicer said. And he added a scolding about widespread reports that differ from his evidence-free assessment: “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”
Crowd size experts estimate Trump’s audience at far fewer than the million or more that Trump is claiming, and at far less than the size of the following day’s women’s march, which the new president has said little about. And side-by-side photographs showed the contrast between the comparatively thin gathering for Trump’s inauguration and the record-setting one in 2009 for former president Barack Obama’s first.
Ari Fleischer, a former George W. Bush press secretary, saw Saturday’s bizarre session for what it was.
“This is called a statement you’re told to make by the President. And you know the President is watching,” Fleischer wrote. (MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski pegged it as “Sean Spicer’s first hostage video.”) [Continue reading…]