- Fox News
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace confronted White House chief of staff Reince Priebus on Sunday over the White House’s dubious claims about the size of the crowd at President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
During an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Wallace called White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s Saturday briefing “extraordinary,” noting that Spicer did not take any questions and insisted contrary to all available evidence that Trump garnered the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration.”
“President Trump said in his inaugural address that every decision he makes will be to benefit American families,” Wallace said. “How does arguing about crowd size do that?”
Priebus argued that there was a media conspiracy to delegitimize Trump’s presidency, claiming that media outlets were incorrect to report on issues including Russia’s meddling in the US presidential election.
“It really isn’t about crowd size,” Priebus said. “What it’s about is honesty in the media.
“The media from day one has been talking about delegitimizing the election. Talking about the Russians, talking about everything you can imagine except the fact that we need to move this country forward.”
Priebus claimed media outlets made sloppy errors, and he specifically pointed to Time magazine reporter Zeke Miller, who mistakenly sent out a White House pool report on Friday asserting that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. was removed from the Oval Office. Miller quickly corrected the report and apologized.
“This is an explosive accusation which could’ve had incredible ramifications … Turns out it was totally false,” Priebus said. “What did the media say? ‘Oh, our bad.'”
But Wallace continued to press Priebus, saying Trump made two separate inaccurate claims about the size of the inaugural crowd during an appearance at the CIA headquarters on Saturday. Wallace also posted side-by-side pictures of Obama’s and Trump’s inaugurations.
“You talk about honesty,” Wallace said. “You say this is about honesty. But there’s another issue here though, Reince, and that is the president’s honest. Two things he said yesterday were just flat wrong.
“Take a look at those pictures,” Wallace continued, putting up the pictures of Obama’s 2009 inauguration and Trump’s on Friday. “Which one is bigger?”
“You’re also not saying that that picture was taken before he was even speaking,” Priebus replied.
“I was there, I was there on the mall,” Wallace interjected.
“I was there too, Chris,” Priebus said.
Wallace dubbed the conversation “ridiculous,” but when Priebus insisted that crowds stretched from the congressional steps to the Washington Monument, Wallace urged his producers to “put up the picture again.”
“You can keep putting the picture up, wait a second,” Priebus replied. “I could take an aerial picture right now, Chris, and I can say, ‘Look at the difference. If you’re not comparing apples to apples, it doesn’t matter.”
After more back-and-forth, Wallace eventually said the White House team was responsible for arguing about the size of the crowd and could have highlighted other priorities instead.
“You’re the ones who did it,” Wallace said when Priebus dismissed the media for not covering the “substance” of Trump’s remarks.
“He could’ve given a news conference yesterday, talked about the agenda, talked about the executive actions he’s going to sign,” Wallace said. “He talked about crowd sizes.”