US president Donald Trump is being “demoralized” by the drumbeat of negative press, his spokesman said today in his first official press conference at the White House.
Sean Spicer, who was ridiculed over the weekend for declaring Trump’s inauguration audience the largest in history (he was including online viewers, he said today), complained that the media criticism of Trump is “constant” and an attempt to undercut his successes. It’s “not just about crowd size,” Spicer said, referring to published comparisons between Trump’s inaugural crowd and Barack Obama’s at his first swearing in. “I think it’s just unbelievably frustrating when you’re constantly told ‘It’s not big enough, and not good enough, and you can’t win.'”
It was a jarring message from a president who relied heavily on name-calling during his campaign, encouraged his fans to harass media, falsely accused his predecessor of being born in Kenya, and has often bragged about his toughness and dislike of “losers.” It also reflected an administration that seems unwilling to admit, or examine why, despite its populist appeal, it doesn’t have the approval of a large part of the US population.
Trump took office with the lowest popularity ratings of any US president in decades, with a much greater percentage of the Americans thinking his cabinet picks were “poor” than those of other presidents. The day after his inauguration, women staged the largest one-day protest ever in America, in a rebuke to Trump and his policies.
“He’s gone out there and defied the odds over and over again and he keeps getting told what he can’t do by this narrative out there, and he exceeds it every single time and I think there is this overall frustration,” Spicer said. Speaking on the inauguration crowd size controversy specifically, he said: “You see this historic thing and he stands there at the capital and you look out and its an amazing view….then to hear ‘Look at this shot, it wasn’t that big’ it is a little demoralizing.”
Monday represented day four of Trump’s four year presidency, and the complaints are likely to do little to discourage speculation that Trump is exceptionally approval-seeking and thin-skinned.
“It’s not about one tweet, it’s not about one picture, its about a constant theme,” Spicer said. It is about “sitting here every time” being told “No, we don’t think he can do that.”
Trump’s first full day in office included a meeting with the CEOs of Dell, Ford, Johnson & Johnson and other US manufacturers; a memorandum on pulling out of the Transpacific Partnership; an executive order limiting funding for women’s contraception around the world; a freeze on hiring in the US executive branch, and a phone call with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.