Sean Spicer, Donald Trump’s new press secretary, was mocked by pretty much everyone over the weekend for insisting that Trump’s inauguration boasted the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration—period—both in person and around the globe.” While exact numbers are impossible to acquire, Trump’s inauguration was not the most viewed in person—it was dwarfed by Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, which is obvious when you look at at side-by-side pictures. D.C. public transit data also back up the claim that Obama’s inauguration was better attended: While 570,000 riders used the Metro system on Friday, Obama’s two inaugurations had 1.1 million and 782,000 trips, respectively. The Nielsen ratings for Trump’s inauguration were much smaller than those of Obama’s 2009 inauguration and Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inauguration. In other words, the claim simply isn’t credible.
On Monday, Spicer had his first official press briefing with the White House press corps. It was more cordial—Spicer shifted his tone from “barely restrained frothing” to “normal White House press secretary BS”—but he doubled down on his false claim, falling back on the Trump administration’s new endorsement of “alternative facts.”
Spicer asserted that “we have to be honest with the American people” but “sometimes we can disagree with the facts.” That is not, of course, how facts work.