Politics

Trump attacks reporter over already-deleted crowd size tweet

There is some irony to Trump criticizing someone for lying about crowd size.

Yesterday, President Donald Trump called for a Washington Post journalist to be fired Saturday over an erroneous tweet about his crowd size. The reporter quickly apologized for the mix-up and had deleted the tweet, because that’s generally what you do when you make mistakes. Except when you’re Trump, who has throughout his tenure has refused to back down from even the most obvious falsities.

Trump fired off a pair of tweets attacking Post reporter Dave Weigel over a “phony photo” of an empty arena ahead of his Friday rally in Pensacola, Florida. “Packed house, many people unable to get in. Demand apology & retraction from FAKE NEWS WaPo!” he wrote.

In a separate tweet, he asserted Weigel should be fired.

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.@DaveWeigel @WashingtonPost put out a phony photo of an empty arena hours before I arrived @ the venue, w/ thousands of people outside, on their way in. Real photos now shown as I spoke. Packed house, many people unable to get in. Demand apology & retraction from FAKE NEWS WaPo! pic.twitter.com/XAblFGh1ob

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2017

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.@daveweigel of the Washington Post just admitted that his picture was a FAKE (fraud?) showing an almost empty arena last night for my speech in Pensacola when, in fact, he knew the arena was packed (as shown also on T.V.). FAKE NEWS, he should be fired.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2017

Weigel quickly responded to Trump’s tweets with an apology and an acknowledgement of his error. He said he removed the tweet, which showed numerous empty seats ahead of Trump’s speech, after being alerted by the Daily Mail’s David Martosko that he’d “gotten it wrong.” He acknowledged it was a “bad tweet” from his personal account and said it was “very fair” to call him out.

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Sure thing: I apologize. I deleted the photo after @dmartosko told me I’d gotten it wrong. Was confused by the image of you walking in the bottom right corner. https://t.co/fQY7GMNSaD

— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) December 9, 2017

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It was a bad tweet on my personal account, not a story for Washington Post. I deleted it after like 20 minutes. Very fair to call me out.

Everything I say on Twitter is a joke, except what I say about @swin24. https://t.co/tI7SQnpoN9

— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) December 9, 2017

Trump in recent days has taken advantage of a handful of journalistic errors to take aim at specific reporters and outlets. On Saturday morning, he attacked CNN for making a what called a “vicious and purposeful mistake” when it was forced to correct a story about the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. He called for the network to fire “those responsible” for the mistake.

Trump has also taken aim at ABC News’ Brian Ross, who erroneously reported that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was prepared to testify that he, as a candidate, had directed Flynn to make contact with the Russians during the 2016 election. On December 1, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who he was directed to make contact with after Trump’s election during the transition period.

ABC News initially issued a “clarification” of the story, later apologizing and suspending Ross for four weeks.

So when is Trump going to acknowledge his crowd size lie?

There is, of course, some irony to Trump criticizing someone for lying about crowd size.

Trump insisted his inaugural crowd was the biggest in history, attended by 1.5 million people, despite clear photographic evidence that it wasn’t.

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Compare the crowds: 2009 inauguration at left, 2017 inauguration at right.#Inauguration pic.twitter.com/y7RhIR2nfC

— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) January 20, 2017

He infamously sent then-press secretary Sean Spicer out to tell reporters the day after he was sworn in that photographs of the inaugural proceedings were framed to “minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall,” where the event took place. “That was the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe,” Spicer said.

Spicer joked about the crowd size in an appearance at the Emmy awards in September, with a wink and a nod, acknowledging that the assertion was not true. But he’s never come out and said that he was lying at the time. Neither has Trump. The New York Times over the summer put together a “definitive list” of Trump’s lies as president. The takeaway: Trump lies a lot. And unlike reporters, who make corrections when they get things wrong, the president just sticks to it.




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