Outside the Box

Incredibly Stupid White House First Day

Within 48 hours of Trump’s swearing-in , it became clear that Donald J. Trump does not intend to serve as President, but rather as Petulant of the United States.

We are going to give Sean Spicer, White House press secretary and communications director (usually two jobs) the benefit of the doubt. Only this once will we give him that benefit; it was his first full day on the job. But, it was the most petulant, pathetic, putrid and pointless performance on that stage that we have ever seen.

He didn’t just insist, he ranted that what we estimate to be far fewer than 450,000 in attendance at the Trump inaugural was larger than the official estimate of 1.8 million who attended Obama’s first.

We’re going to allow, just this once, that Petulant Trump shoved him out there to deliver his delirious diatribe against his wishes, and too new in the job to resist doing something so stunningly stupid. (His appearance was followed the next morning by Chief Counselor Kellyanne Conway’s incredible claim to have “alternate facts.”)

His combative hate-filled performance was not that out of character; that was his style in the same jobs in the campaign and for the Republican National Committee, working directly under Reince Priebus, who didn’t know which way to jump after the party lost control of its primaries. Now, he is the new White House chief of staff. That experience belies the benefit of a doubt we offer Spicer.

Ironically, one of his biggest lies was delivered a little over two weeks earlier when he said that he could not do his job as press secretary if he had to lie because it would hurt his credibility.

In his first appearance on the job, the fool asserted that the inauguration the previous day was attended by the largest crowd ever. Petulant Trump estimated the attendance at “a million, million and a half people.” He and Spicer hatefully denounced news media and other reports that the crowd was far smaller than that.

Estimating crowds actually is not that hard. As a Washington, D.C., journalist, once as UPI reporter in charge of covering frequent anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and similar events, we learned the art early on. In my case, I would section off the crowd into a certain size, count the number of people in that section and then walk around and count the sections on out to the periphery and multiply the results. My estimates were never far off the official ones that used to be announced later.

We did not attend Trump’s inaugural, but the press published comparative photos (of the same size, taken from the same window at the top of the Washington Monument) of the Obama’s first inaugural in 2009 when the official crowd count was put at 1.8 million people attending on the mall between the monument and the Capitol where the ceremony took place for both men.

We printed out the Reuters photos, each taken between one-half hour and an hour before the ceremony, and sectioned off the same city blocks in each. In the Obama inaugural photo of not all of the 1.8 million we divided part of the mall in the photo into 10 sections, and cautiously limited the crowd size in each to 150,000. In that photo, all the blocks were jammed with people.

obama-09

Not even close in Trump photo; several of the blocks were less than half full. In the first one west of the Smithsonian Museum Castle appeared the first sizeable crowd of people, bunched in an eighth of the block. We gave that block 20,000 people. Counting that way on up to the Capitol, and being generous, we arrived at our estimate of far short of 450,000.

Similar photos of the women’s march the following day look more the Obama crowd than Trump’s, thus the estimate the women drew more.

We will pontificate in another article here later on the dangerous road that Trump’s media effort, including the threat to remove the press from the White house, is not just to the press corps or journalism, but the nation as a whole.

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