Why is there so much talk about this picture of crowd size at the inauguration?

  • Seems this has become the new issue of the new administration. Even Sean Spicer spent time during media briefing to talk about it and even went so far as to say

    “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period"

    This is the picture in question:

    enter image description here

    were the two photos taken when Obama and Trump were giving their speeches?

    To give some context, Trump received 4% of the Washington D.C. vote, and Obama received 92% of the vote in 2008.

    @Darthfett I didn't know that. What a striking result. More than in Manhattan. Looks like urbanization should favor dems then more than I thought.

    The questions in the title and the body do not agree.

    1) that particular picture is irrelevant because it was taken before those areas filled up, so the pictures aren't comparable. 2) The 2009 inauguration was an unprecedented historical event (1st black president). Trump's was a routine transition after a contentious election. There's no reason to expect that the crowds would be comparable. So the only reason for the media to make the comparison was to belittle Trump. (cont'd)

    3) Spicer's issue wasn't the crowd size. He used it as an example of part of an ongoing effort by the media to denigrate and delegitimize Trump's presidency. His point was that crowd size should have been irrelevant, particularly since total viewership set a record, so it wasn't shabby.

    @PeterA.Schneider: Not just urbanization favoring dems here. Most jobs in the DC area are fed gov't jobs, so people will tend to vote for the party that wants to expand rather than shrink the size of the fed gov't.

  • SJuan76

    SJuan76 Correct answer

    5 years ago

    The pictures by themselves are not much of an issue; there are obviously fewer people in one than in other but there is not much more that can be concluded about it1.

    The issue is that in his habitual style, Trump and his aides could not stand any information that did not suit them, and engaged in claims that his inauguration had more attendance than Obama's (including attacks on the press that reported otherwise). Even when other data (number of metro rides that day) debunked that claim, they pressed their own claim, to the point of talking about alternative facts.2

    Now, the issue of how many people there were is minor in itself, but the way Trump administration has reacted is worrisome: deny the data they do not want, make a major issue of a point without importance, attack anyone who produces information they do not like, and invent "alternative facts"3.

    It is not the only incident of this type Trump has protagonized4, so it has lead to doubts about his personality. If this is how he reacts to bad data about the public attendance to his inauguration... what should the public expect from him if economic, intelligence, etc. data does not paint the picture that Trumps wants to see? This is the whole point of the debate.


    1For example, maybe more people prefered to get out for a weekend trip than to attend Trump's inauguration on a Friday, or it was colder, or whatever. If you want more details about how many people were at each inauguration, this question in skeptics addresses the issue.

    2BTW, the video covers the whole issue pretty well -although with an humorous spin-, it is worth seeing it full.

    3Alternative facts would be OK if Trump were POTUS in an alternative reality, since he is not it is desirable that he learns to use actual facts.

    4Up to claiming fraud in the elections that nobody disputes he won, which is AFAIK a first in Western history.

    Was going to post a similar answer, but this hits the nail on the head. It is very similar to the Streisand effect. You might consider linking this SE question for debunking Spicer's claim: https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/36832

    It appears that Trump is particularly sensitive about *specific information* which does not suit him: *ratings,* including election results and turnouts, and about his *public image.* This may reflect his history of a TV entertainer. He does not seem to take comparable offense from dissent in actual political key questions: Tillerson and Mattis on the importance of the NATO or the role of Russia or torture; Haley on Muslims; Price on health insurance for all; the Tea Party on spending.

    @AlexanderO'Mara Something akin to the the Streisand effect appears in Bert Brecht's poem "The Invincible Inscription": Mussolini's soldiers try to erase an offending inscription in a wall, but the increasingly drastic efforts make the inscription only more and more visible, until it is actually chiseled in stone. A nice example of dialectics at work, and much older than Twitter. Foucault touches similar mechanisms by investigating how suppressed topics become actually ubiquitous, like sex in the Victorian age.

    "Trump administration has reacted is worrysome" Of course, one could also say "the way the media has reacted is worrysome". Even today I was hearing news about this issue, while Trump was happily moving with his policies.

    @NPSF3000 - Yep, Trump has the ability to use things like this to distract the press from what he's really doing. Meanwhile he's at work on his wall, has effectively fired a whole bunch of federal workers, and is rolling merrily along on his schemes to destroy the federal government, the environment, and the rights of women and minorities.

    While Trump does have some over-sensitivity, this answer is an extremely biased interpretation and completely misses the underlying issue. It is essentially Democrat party talking points.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM