WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's senior advisers defended White House attacks on the news media and incorrect claims about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, accusing news organizations Sunday of trying to undermine Trump's legitimacy.
The pushback came a day after White House press Secretary Sean Spicer incorrectly said Trump's inaugural ceremony drew "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration." Spicer also contradicted his own claim of about a minute earlier that crowd totals were unavailable.
Challenged on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday about Spicer making incorrect claims, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway made a startling characterization: that Spicer gave "alternative facts."
"You're saying it's a falsehood, and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that," Conway said.
Conway eventually backed off Spicer's adamant claims and inflated crowd estimates. "I don't think you can prove those numbers one way or the another," she said. "There's no way to really quantify crowds."
However, police and cities use statistical methods to estimate crowd sizes to protect public safety during large events. And scientists use available evidence to tally crowd sizes.
"There's an obsession by the media to delegitimize this president, and we are not going to sit around and let it happen," White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said on "Fox News Sunday."
"We're going to fight back tooth and nail every day, and twice on Sunday," Priebus said.