At a time when there should be national unity, a media war has erupted between the size of Obama’s and Trump’s, err, Inauguration Day crowds.
The size of the crowds is being hotly disputed as a flashpoint between the Democratic Party and its supportive media, who want to delegitimize the new president, and the Trump administration, which wants the symbolism of a massive crowd on the Washington mall to defy the opposition’s narrative.
“I have a running war with the media,” Trump said, adding how he really feels, “They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth.”
As with all narrative battles, imagery is often deployed by political operatives in an attempt to bolster support or to undermine one’s opponents.
A viral image put out by the New York Times, and subsequently adopted by much of the media, has been utilized by his opposition as a way of demonstrating that Trump’s crowd was substantially smaller than former President Obama’s in 2009.
Comparing the crowds at Donald Trump’s and Barack Obama’s inaugurations https://t.co/YysDewDB9N pic.twitter.com/myrXutzMpH
— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) January 21, 2017
A number of things should be noted about these images, just for a matter of context:
- There are white tarps on the grounds of the Washington mall in the 2017 Trump Inauguration photo (right), while there none in the Obama photo (left).
- The weather for the Obama Inaugural Address was in the 20s, while Trump’s address had weather in the 40s and scattered rain showers.
- The Trump Inaugural Address was given while the areas of the mall were blocked off by officials for stated security concerns, such as protesters.
- Due to the cloudy skies seen in the photo, there will likely be no conclusive satellite data for the Trump Inaugural Address.
According to 2009 address analysis, drawing from satellite data evaluated by crowd size analysts, former President Obama drew a record 1.8 million to the Washington mall. It was a historic event in the sense that no African American had been elected president before; this alone would draw numerous loyal crowds.
Politifact, in a piece blasting the Trump administration for a “pants on fire” lie, provided the following estimates:
Two major factors in Obama’s favor for address turnout are the Democratic leanings of the D.C. metropolitan area, as well as support from the African American community in the area, which is immense.
All those explanations for a difference in audience sizes aside, determining Trump’s Inauguration Day crowd attendance could turn out to be a bit trickier than Politifact claims.
A proxy comparison of the Obama and Trump Inaugural Addresses is the metro traffic for that day. CNN reported the estimate given by the Washington transit authority, or WMATA, that 193,000 trips had been taken as of 11 a.m. in 2009, while some 513,000 trips had been taken as of the same time on Inauguration Day 2017.
Further analysis provided by WaPo, and given by the WMATA, estimated that there a total of 571,000 metro riders this year, while there were 782,000 riders in 2009.
In terms of general public interest in seeing the event, one potential rough gauge is TV viewership. TVLine provided a ratings overview:
Friday’s coverage of Donald J. Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States amassed 30.6 million total viewers, Nielsen reports.
That tally — which accounts for live coverage from approximately 10 am to 6 pm ET, across ABC, CBS, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, CNBC, CNN, Fox Business Network, Fox News Channel, Galavision, HLN and MSNBC — falls 19 percent below the audience for Barack Obama’s own first swearing-in (37.8 million), on Jan. 20, 2009, when a quarter of all households tuned in.
In D.C., Obama’s 2009 inauguration drew an in-person crowd of 1.8 million, while Trump’s… well, we quite frankly may never really know.
While Trump’s Inauguration Day address crowd will likely turn out to be below Obama’s 1.8 million record attendance, the proxy numbers don’t suggest anything close to one-fifth of the public interest in the event implied by a mean of Politifact’s estimate.
In terms of tickets alone, 250,000 were distributed for the Trump Inaugural Address, which is approximately the same as past addresses. Then, there is attendance on the mall itself, which can be the majority for such an event; as noted above, there were sections closed off for Trump’s address for security reasons.
Despite the lack of certainty over the exact size of the Inauguration Day in 2017, the Trump administration has bristled at suggestions that the size was meager, and has shot back that the crowd size was actually the largest ever.
On Saturday, the New York Times reported statements from both President Trump and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer hotly disputing the media crowd estimates, while taking journalists to task for alleged deceptive practices.
As The New York Times reported of Trump’s comments:
Mr. Trump also took issue with news reports about the number of people who attended his inauguration, complaining that the news media used photographs of “an empty field” to make it seem as if his inauguration did not draw many people.
“We caught them in a beauty,” Mr. Trump said of the news media, “and I think they’re going to pay a big price.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday responded with a claim that Trump had attracted “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration.” This is a claim the New York Times argued outright was “false.”
Spicer argued that the photographs were deceptively framed:
Mr. Spicer said photographs of the inaugural ceremonies were deliberately framed “to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall,” although he provided no proof of either assertion.
In addition, as reported by the Times, Spicer claimed that the purported media malpractice was an “attempt to sow divisions at a time when Mr. Trump was trying to unify the country, warning that the new administration would hold them to account.”
One unlikely figure to weigh in on the controversy is veteran Fox News anchor Brit Hume, who was in attendance on Inauguration Day. Hume claims that the photos being used by the media are deceptive for one particular reason:
The desperation from the Trump camp and their fellow travelers is highly amusing.
The meltdown by Trump and Spicer on Saturday- priceless.
Keep it coming Curt
Whatever the attendance was is immaterial. It SHOULD have been smaller; the left was threatening violence upon the ceremony, upon the attendees and they have the reputation to back it up. Plus, I doubt the Republicans bothered to bus people in to boost the numbers, as liberals do. Like which ignorant, cry-baby, hypocritical entertainer shows up for the inaugural, I truly don’t care (except for having respect for those who did).
The actual question would be, why would the media want to emphasize and even exaggerate the issue to try and maintain the air of divisiveness and illegitimacy the left wants so desperately to be predominant?
But, it is important to hammer the media every time they lie (a full time job, at present) and let them know they don’t get away with it. If there is widespread positive reaction to Trump’s reaction, the media is going to have a really tough time going forward.
@Bill… Deplorable Me:
Did you try to write something intelligent, Oh Deplorable One.
It reads like vomit.
But keep up the alternative facts.
Next up: Dinosaurs built Stonehenge.
This is typical, isn’t it? As was the case through the entire presidential election campaign, the Trump administration’s preoccupation is more with manipulating the public perception of reality than dealing with the facts of reality themselves.
A smaller inaugural turnout could be explained in many ways: Trump isn’t the nation’s first black president, so there’s a lesser sense of the inauguration being a landmark historical event; terrorism concerns were high and security was likely tighter, which might have diminished public access; temperatures were mild, but it looked like a damp, drizzly day, so many people may have decided to stay home in front of their televisions. Such things, in fact, have been cited.
Given all that, the Trump administration could have simply dismissed the smaller turnout as irrelevant and moved the topic on to something of real importance. Instead, they fixate, and stories start being rolled out about photographic deceptions.
obama was only half negro. He is a muatto.
@Bill… Deplorable Me: #2
Don’t forget that it was Friday, and Trump supporters had to be at work. Which would also explain the TV ratings vs online views. I watched the inauguration sitting at my desk eating lunch.
Obama is the first president to serve eight years and preside over American wars during every single day of his tenure.
So why should we ever beleive anything these lying journalists say as well as faked photos,obamas faked polls and and lets not forget Katie Courics phonie anti-gun propeganda piece UNDER THE GUN
@PhillipMarlowe: Ok AJ (this is AJ’s second identity, right?) I understand you will be dropping the AJ id after the end of the month and sticking around for another month in this identity, right? These trolls must get tired of all having to use the same scripts. Seems as if they would at least change a few words in some of the sentences to try to fool someone. But, then they probably never thought of that.
@Greg: There were more Trump motorcycle bikers than the ‘announced crowd’ by some of the networks. Over a million bikers but ‘total’ audience of 600,000. See how education has gone to hell under the dims.
@July 4th American:
I’m not so sure. Since we’ve never seen his birth certificate, we don’t really know who his father was. there is a lot of speculation that it is/was Frank Marshall Davis, who is only 50% black. If so that would make him only 25% black. That does still qualify him as mulatto.
@Petercat: Ha, ha. They had to be at work.
Don’t forget, they didn’t want to melt in the rain, poor little snowflakes.
@RedTeam: Sorry RedTeam, I’m not AJ.
While you vehemently disagree with me, the one thing you can trust is that I won’t lie.
There weren’t any protestors at Obama’s inauguration, locking arms and blocking access to the mall.
There were many protestors at Trump’s inauguration, locking arms and blocking access to the mall.
Well, he could in fact be more white than black understanding the definition of mulatto. We do not know as you say, but it may be safe to say he certainly is a Heinz “57”….
Obama doubtless drew larger crowds for his inauguration. Inaugurations take place in Washington DC. The local population is majority black and contains a high level of government employees. It’s a Democrat town.
The issue is silly. I wish the new administration would ignore it. The NY Times photos, however were obviously taken before the full crowds formed and are deceptive. It’s the NY Times. It’s what they do.
Oh yeah violent rioters clashing with bikers, grab the kids honey we need to be in the midst of this!
Even trying to reference the tv ratings when many more people use live stream, we wont be fooled into thinking we are a tiny minority. Media of television is dying like newsprint they are going extinct.
Thats why Trump wants independent media in the press room sitting right next to the Conestoga wagon drivers.
45: The Administration
Here are the photos that show Obama’s inauguration crowd was bigger than Trump’s
You guys going to walk back this one.
Bet not, bitch.