Trump overstates inauguration crowd as Women's March appears to draw bigger turnout
Inauguration photos 'intentionally framed' by media to make crowd look smaller: press secretary
There were strong signs across the U.S. that the number of people who attended the Women's March on Washington on Saturday topped those who gathered on Friday to watch U.S. President Donald Trump's inauguration.
But as over a million people around the world protested in solidarity with events in Washington, both the president and his press secretary took aim Saturday at the media for "attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration" and claimed a bigger turnout than the available data suggests.
The U.S. capital's metro subway stations and train cars were full in many locations on Saturday, while ridership on Friday was well off the numbers from Obama's first inaugural.
Interim D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said on Independence Avenue, "The crowd stretches so far that there's no room left to march."
Metro tweeted Sunday that 1,001,616 trips were taken on the rail system the day of the Women's March on Washington. Metro spokesman Dan Stessel had said that on Friday, the day of Trump's inauguration, just over 570,000 trips were taken on the rail system.
Metrorail ridership for Sat, Jan 21 = 1,001,616 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/wmata?src=hash">#wmata</a>—@wmata
Saturday's ridership figures were more than eight times a normal Saturday and busier than most weekdays.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/MayorBowser">@MayorBowser</a> addresses the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WomensMarch?src=hash">#WomensMarch</a>. Per organizers, expect more than 500,000 people today. <a href="https://t.co/O1Gk6hitrE">pic.twitter.com/O1Gk6hitrE</a>—@SafeDC
No official estimates of the crowd size at the march were immediately available, but the demonstrators appeared to easily exceed the 200,000 organizers had initially expected.
Kevin Donahue, Washington's deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said on Twitter that organizers of the march increased the turnout estimate to over half a million.
On Sunday, Trump and his staff continued their attacks on the media, with adviser Kellyanne Conway saying it was unfair for the media to compare the crowds to President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration. She also defended the press secretary's comments, saying Sean Spicer presented "alternative facts."
"Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods," Chuck Todd tells Pres. Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway this morning. WATCH: <a href="https://t.co/Ao005dQ13r">pic.twitter.com/Ao005dQ13r</a>—@MeetThePress
The president weighed in about the figures and the protests through his Twitter account. First, he asked "why didn't these people vote," but an hour later said he "recognized the rights of people to express their views."
Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn't these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.—@realDonaldTrump
Attempts to minimize inauguration 'shameful'
During a speech at CIA headquarters on Saturday, Trump quickly shifted from praise for the CIA to criticism of media coverage of inauguration day — an unscripted address that overstated the size of the crowd that gathered on the National Mall as he took the oath of office.
Trump said throngs "went all the way back to the Washington monument," despite photos and live video showing the crowd stopping well short of the landmark.
Trump's press secretary said, without evidence, in a statement released Saturday, that the media intentionally framed pictures and video to make the event look smaller.
"Photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall," Spicer's statement read.
"These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong."
Trump said the inauguration crowd looked to be about 1.5 million people. The National Park Service doesn't provide an official estimate, but such a figure is highly dubious. Other events that filled more of the Mall have not drawn a crowd of that size.
Spicer also stated: "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe."
It is not known how many people watched the ceremony on television around the globe, but in the U.S., Nielsen estimates 31 million viewers watched TV coverage.
The 2009 inauguration of Obama, who became the nation's first black president that year, was watched by nearly 38 million viewers, the second-highest number since Nielsen began compiling such figures with Richard Nixon's 1969 oath of office.
Only Reagan drew a bigger U.S. TV inauguration audience, with nearly 42 million viewers tuning in to see the California Republican sworn in for his first term in 1981.
Trump's total was greater than both swearings-in of Democrat Bill Clinton — 29.7 million and 21.6 million — and the second inauguration of Obama, who drew an average audience of over 20.5 million in 2013, Nielsen said.
Trump used Twitter to boast about the ratings his inauguration received.
Wow, television ratings just out: 31 million people watched the Inauguration, 11 million more than the very good ratings from 4 years ago!—@realDonaldTrump
Over 1 million protested Trump worldwide
In a global exclamation of defiance and solidarity on Saturday, more than a million people had rallied at women's marches in the Washington, D.C., and cities around the world. The more than 600 "sister marches" around the world were held in conjunction with the main Women's March on Washington.
Many of the women came wearing pink, pointy-eared "pussyhats" to mock the new president. Plenty of men joined in, too, contributing to surprising numbers everywhere from New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles, to Mexico City, Paris, Berlin, London, Prague and Sydney.
A total of 30 marches were held in Canada, with thousands participating in a number of cities, including Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa.
Chicago trek cancelled due to big turnout
So many people turned out for the Women's March in Chicago that organizers cancelled their plans to march through the city's downtown.
Instead, they extended the rally on the city's lakefront.
Organizers said far more people than they initially expected gathered at the demonstration in Grant Park along Lake Michigan and overflow areas had to be used.
With files from CBC News and Reuters