Kellyanne Conway told a national television audience that Press Secretary Sean Spicer used “alternative facts” when he claimed – despite video evidence to the contrary – that Donald Trump’s inauguration had the largest viewing audience in history.
Watch the exchange above.
Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, Conway refused to say that Spicer, the former spokesman for the Republican National Committee, had said anything wrong, even though the media documented multiple factual errors in his angry comments in a press conference.
“Why put him out there for the very first time… to utter a provable falsehood?” Meet the Press host Chuck Todd asked.
What Spicer had said is this: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.” That is contradicted by aerial footage of Trump’s inauguration and Barack Obama’s that clearly shows the latter had more people in attendance.
According to Politico, there’s no real way to calculate global viewing audience but “at least four previous presidents drew bigger domestic TV audiences than Trump.” CBS reported that Nielsen ratings show about 30.6 million people watched the Trump inauguration, compared to 38 million who watched Obama’s. Politico reported that Spicer also falsely said that there were coverings on the National Mall grass for the first time and gave out misleading transit figures.
Conway said to Todd, “if you’re going to keep referring to our press secretary in those types of terms, I think then we’re going to have to rethink our relationship here.”
She then said that the Trump administration had allowed the press to come into the Oval Office to witness Trump signing executive orders and “a falsehood is told about removing the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office.”
She was referring to a tweet by Time Magazine reporter Zeke Miller. The Hill reported that the bust supposedly being missing was included in a pool report but then corrected “saying the bust had been obscured by a door and a Secret Service agent.” Miller had apologized on Twitter for the error.
“And it was corrected immediately,” Todd said of the reporter in question, whom Conway said was writing for the press pool and whose account was shared more than 3,000 times.
Todd then accused Conway of dodging his question and asked why Spicer had uttered a falsehood.
“You’re saying it’s a falsehood and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that,” Conway said.
“Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true…Alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods,” Todd said.
Conway then started talking about Barack Obama’s policies. Todd returned to the Spicer issue, and she said, “I don’t think you can prove those numbers one way or the other. There’s no way to really quantify crowds. You can laugh at me all you want. I think it’s actually symbolic of the way we’re treated by the press. I’ll just ignore it. I’m bigger than that.”
Watch Spicer’s original press conference here: