White House spokesman blasts media over crowd sizes in first statement

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Saturday unleashed a blistering attack on the media for its coverage of President Trump’s inauguration. 

Spicer used his first official appearance in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room to denounce news organizations’ focus on the inaugural crowd size as “shameful and wrong.”
 
"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe,” Spicer said.
 
Spicer made the claim despite photos and video showing fewer people assembled on the National Mall on Friday than were there for former President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaTrump considers naming Yellen or Cohn to lead the Fed West Wing to empty out for August construction Ex-CIA chief: Trump’s Boy Scout speech felt like ‘third world authoritarian's youth rally’ MORE’s inauguration in 2009.
 
Television ratings for Trump's inauguration fell below numbers for former Presidents Obama and Reagan in their first terms, according to Nielsen data.
 
The spokesman said the side-by-side photos circulating on social media were “intentionally framed in a way to minimize support” for Trump.
 
He blamed the bad visuals on floor coverings protecting the grass, saying they highlighted empty spaces. Similar floor coverings were used at Obama's 2013 inauguration. 
 
Spicer did not take questions from the media. 
The spokesman took the podium as millions of people in Washington and cities around the country marched in protest of Trump's inauguration. 
 
Coverage of the demonstrations blanketed cable news coverage on Saturday, Trump's first full day in office.
 
The forceful statement echoed the words of Trump himself, who boasted about the size of the crowd that witnessed him take the oath of office.
 
Speaking just hours earlier to staff at the Central Intelligence Agency, Trump said massive groups of people “went all the way back to the Washington Monument," despite photos showing otherwise.
"I get up this morning and I turn on one of the networks and they show an empty field. 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,” the president said. 
 
Spicer repeated Trump’s claim, saying “all of this space was full when the president took the oath of office.” 
 
The spokesman also rehashed Trump’s attack on a Time magazine reporter who mistakenly wrote in a pool report that a bust of Martin Luther King. Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.
 
The reporter quickly corrected and apologized for the mistake, an apology Spicer had accepted just a day earlier. 
He also ripped the tone of the coverage of Trump’s visit to the CIA, directing reporters to give more attention to a delay in the confirmation of Trump's pick to lead the agency, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.)  
 
"That's what you guys should be writing and covering," Spicer said.
 
The tongue lashing was puzzling to reporters at the White House. Previous administrations have focused their public statements on policy changes they hoped to enact in their earliest days.
 
But Trump and Spicer’s comments are a sign they plan to continue the same battle with the media they waged during the 2016 campaign. 
 
"I'm here to tell you that it goes two ways,” Spicer told members of the media. “We're going to hold the press accountable as well.”
 
Update: 6:33 p.m.