Trump team doubles down on media criticism

Members of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems win from coast to coast Falwell after Gillespie loss: 'DC should annex' Northern Virginia Dems see gains in Virginia's House of Delegates MORE's team continued Sunday to blast the media for its coverage of the crowd sizes at the president's inauguration.

Trump's top aide and the White House chief of staff took to the Sunday show circuit to defend the president and White House press secretary Sean Spicer, both of whom accused the press of lying about the number of people who attended the inauguration.

Trump's team hit the media Sunday for focusing on crowd sizes, and accused members of the press of trying to delegitimize his presidency.

Top White House aide Kellyanne Conway told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that Spicer provided "alternative facts" to reporters during his press briefing on Saturday afternoon.

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“You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that,” Conway said in defense of the information.
Host Chuck Todd though fire back, saying alternative facts "are not facts." Instead, he said, "they're falsehoods" and as such, it "undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office."
 
The exchange got tense. After Conway told Todd, "There's no way to really quantify crowds," she said his reaction was indicative of the relationship between the press and the new White House.

"The way that you just laughed at me is actually symbolic of the way — very representative of the way we're treated by the press. I'll just ignore it. I'm bigger than that. I'm a kind and gracious person," she said. 

She then warned that the new administration may have to take another look at its relationship with the press, after Todd charged that "the first time [Spicer] confronts the public it's a falsehood."

"Chuck, if we're going to keep referring to our press secretary in those types of terms, I think we're going to have to rethink our relationship here," Conway said.

In another interview on NBC's "Sunday Today," Conway said the coverage of the president has had a negative effect on the country's democracy.

"He has just absorbed an unprecedented — qualitatively and quantitatively — unprecedented deluge of negative criticism and coverage that's frankly unfair and a little bit dangerous to our democracy," Conway said.

"You know, the question for everyone who covers him and who thinks about him is: What is the line between thoughtful criticism and skepticism and, you know, flat out denial and delegitimization of what just happened?"

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus delivered a similar message.

Priebus blasted the media, getting into a heated conversation on "Fox News Sunday," where he accused members of press of trying to delegitimize Trump's presidency.

"The point is not the crowd size. The point is the attacks and the attempts to delegitimize this president in one day," Priebus said on "Fox News Sunday."
 
"And we're not going to sit around and take it."
  
"We are going to fight back tooth and nail every day," he added.
 
After Trump's inauguration on Friday, multiple publications posted photos comparing the crowds at his inauguration to those at former President Obama's first inauguration in 2009. Reporters pointed out that the number of people at Trump's ceremony appeared smaller than that at Obama's.
 
The president fired back on Saturday and accused the media of lying, saying there was a "massive field of people" at his event.
 
"I get up this morning and I turn on one of the networks and they show an empty field," Trump said during remarks at the CIA headquarters.
 
"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."
 
He said the media's estimation that 250,000 people had attended his ceremony was "not bad," but it was a "lie."  
 
Spicer then held a press briefing where he delivered a blistering attack on the press, denouncing the media's 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 blamed the poor visuals of the inauguration 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.
 
Trump and members of his team are often critical of the media, accusing its members of biased and dishonest coverage against him.