|View from the podium|
I don’t get it. I seem to be the only person who thinks Sean Spicer’s berating of the White House Press Corps on Saturday was reasonable. Even Andrew Coyne and Charles Krauthammer are accusing him of straight lying on the numbers in attendance at the Trump Inauguration. CNN and seemingly everyone else are grabbing at Kellyanne Conway’s reference to “alternate facts” as a denial of the facts.
Seems like bollocks to me.
Spicer, contrary to what just about everyone is saying, did not make any specific claims about how many people were there. His stated point was that nobody knew. Accordingly, it was dishonest of the press to all be reporting that the turnout was small. They could not know. He was perfectly right, surely.
He was also obviously right to say that more people viewed the Trump Inauguration than any other in history. Has everyone forgotten the Internet? I, for example, was watching live on Facebook from the Philippines. That would not have been possible even four years ago. What Spicer said was true, and everyone else is being willfully stupid.
He went on to claim that the National Mall was packed right back to the Washington Monument at the moment of swearing in. Everybody and his dog have now published photos showing instead that crowds were sparse. Okay, but when? That, from the pictures, we cannot tell.
On the other hand, here is a picture we can time precisely: Trump’s hand is up, apparently taking the oath of office. This is the moment Spicer referred to. And, from the viewpoint of the podium, it sure does indeed look like the crowds are solid all the way back to the Washington Monument. We report, you decide.
Just possibly our lying eyes are deceiving us, and we ought instead to trust the press’s word. But if so, we have every reason to assume that Trump’s and Spicer’s eyes showed the same bizarre optical illusion that the camera catches. So, at a minimum, if wrong, they were objecting in good faith. And, even if wrong, Spicer’s main point was perfectly valid: why did the press feature photos making the crowd look sparse, instead of this obvious and more natural perspective that made it look large?
The press everywhere goes on to blame Trump for some weird obsession about crowd size. This is painfully disingenuous. It is the press who raised the issue, in the first place, and it is the press that will not now let it go, weirdly obsessing about crowd size, ignoring everything else Spicer said in the press briefing. Including an important other example of press bias, and one easily proven, regarding the presence of a bust of Martin Luther King in the Oval Office. It’s almost as if they are trying to distract attention from that.
And they are accusing Conway of rejecting facts when this was expressly the opposite of what she actually said. She said Spicer offered “alternative facts.” In what alternative universe does that mean that she is denying facts matter?
I never supported Trump during the primaries. I have always thought of him as a bull in a China shop. But, seeing the utter dishonesty, violence, prejudice, meanness, and hysteria of the folks everywhere ranged against him, it really forces me to believe something is very wrong here, and an angry bull was needed.
As Confucius observed, more or less, the best measure of a man is to have a look at his enemies.