In a new book titled “Media Madness: Donald Trump, The Press, And The War Over The Truth,” journalist and Fox News host Howard Kurtz claims that President Trump admitted that he shouldn’t have had then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defend the inauguration crowd size.
Trump allegedly told aides, “You were right. I shouldn’t have done that.”
In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017, photographs began circulating online showing the relatively small crowd size compared to former President Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
ABC News wrote that the Metro transit system reported less traffic as well:
The Washington, D.C., Metro system was less inundated Friday morning than it was during Obama’s first inauguration. As of 11 a.m. ET, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said it had recorded 193,000 trips, compared with the 513,000 trips taken up to that time on Jan. 20, 2009. Some 317,000 trips were taken by 11 a.m. ET on Obama’s second inauguration on Jan. 21, 2013, the government agency said.
A time-lapse video also showed significantly fewer attendees during Trump’s inauguration:
None of this stopped Sean Spicer from telling the press on January 21, 2017: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.”
President Trump mentioned his inauguration crowd size in a speech before the CIA on January 21, 2017, as well.
The inauguration crowd size debate even led to the now-infamous “alternative facts” line from Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway.
According to an excerpt from the book featured in The Washington Post, Conway actually attempted to stop Trump from having Spicer make the crowd size argument. “She invoked a line that she often employed when Trump was exercised over some slight,” Kurtz writes. “‘You’re really big,’ she said. ‘That’s really small.’”
Spicer has since admitted that he regrets the crowd size kerfuffle. If Kurtz’s book is accurate, the president regrets it too.