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White House vows to fight media 'tooth and nail' over Trump attacks

Agencies | Updated: 2017-01-23 11:26

White House vows to fight media 'tooth and nail' over Trump attacks

Press Secretary Sean Spicer delivers a statement while television screen show a picture of US President Donald Trump's inauguration at the press briefing room of the White House in Washington US, January 21, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - The White House vowed on Sunday to fight the news media "tooth and nail" over what it sees as unfair attacks, with a top adviser saying the Trump administration had presented "alternative facts" to counter low inauguration crowd estimates.

On his first full day as president, Trump said he had a "running war" with the media and accused journalists of underestimating the number of people who turned out Friday for his swearing-in.

White House officials made clear no truce was on the horizon on Sunday in television interviews that set a harsher tone in the traditionally adversarial relationship between the White House and the press corps.

"The point is not the crowd size. The point is the attacks and the attempt to delegitimize this president in one day. And we're not going to sit around and take it," Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said on "Fox News Sunday."

No single issue has dominated the new administration's public discourse as much as the news media's treatment of Trump.

"We're going to fight back tooth and nail every day and twice on Sunday," Priebus said.

He repeated White House press secretary Sean Spicer's charges on Saturday that the media had manipulated photographs of the National Mall to show smaller crowds on Friday.

Aerial photographs showed the crowds were smaller than at Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration. The Washington subway system said it had 193,000 riders by 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) on Friday, compared with 513,000 at that time during the 2009 inauguration.

Several of Spicer's statements about Friday's turnout were challenged in photographs and media reports that cited crowd count experts. His categorical assertion that "this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration - period" in particular was lampooned on social media as well.

Asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" why the press secretary was uttering provable falsehoods, White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway fired back.

"If we are going to keep referring to our press secretary in those types of terms I think that we are going to rethink our relationship here," she said.

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