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PolitiFact fact checks Sean Spicer's first press conference — and the outcome is very predictable

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer makes a statement to members of the media at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. This was Spicer's first press conference as Press Secretary where he spoke about the media's reporting on the inauguration's crowd size. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Fact checking website PolitiFact blasted White House press secretary Sean Spicer in a new fact check for claiming at a press briefing Saturday evening that Trump's inauguration last Friday featured the biggest inauguration crowd in history.

"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — PERIOD," Spicer claimed Saturday.

But according to PolitiFact, that isn't accurate — at all.

In their long write-up, PolitiFact knocked Spicer for "offering few 'facts'" to back his claims that Trump's inauguration was the largest ever.

"His overall assertion that Trump’s inaugural drew the 'largest audience' ever is flat-out wrong," PolitiFact said.

PolitiFact went on to debunk Spicer's claims that infrastructure issues on the National Mall prevented many people from gathering over the white ground coverings that were so visible in arial photographs of the inauguration crowd, in addition to Spicer's claims about crowd size and D.C. metro ridership.

PolitiFact wrote:

Many news organizations, including PolitiFact, have noted that it’s difficult to gauge crowd size and that estimates are inconsistent. The National Park Service stopped tallying crowds on the National Mall in 1995 after a dispute over the attendance of the Million Man March.

Spicer’s claim of full spaces on the Mall -- which photographs contradict -- would give Trump a crowd size of at least 720,000, which is higher than preliminary estimates reported in the media but are on par with the 700,000 to 900,000 organizers expected to attend. The President himself touted 1.5 million on Jan. 21 at CIA headquarters. But that still wouldn’t have been the top figure.

They even created a table showing the estimated attendance of recent presidential inaugurations. According to PolitiFact's table, both inaugurations of former President Barack Obama dwarfed Trump's, in addition to former President Bill Clinton having a larger inauguration crowd in 1993.

The fact check even debunked false claims by Spicer about Washington D.C., metro ridership. Saturday, during the press conference, Spicer claimed that the D.C. metro service recorded more rides during Trump's inauguration than Obama's 2013 inauguration.

From PolitiFact:

Spicer said 420,000 used the D.C. Metro public transit on Jan. 20, 2017, compared with 317,000 for President Obama’s 2013 inaugural.

It’s unclear where his 420,000 figure for Trump’s inaugural comes from, but the Washington Post reported that for Trump’s inaugural around 570,557 took trips in the system between 4 a.m and midnight on Friday. Inauguration day 2013 drew more, at about 782,000.

Spicer’s 317,000 figure refers to ridership as of 11 a.m. on Jan. 21, 2013, reported the WMATA. Trump’s inaugural drew about 193,000 as of the same time.

In the end, PolitiFact ruled Spicer's claim that Trump's inauguration was the largest ever to be "pants on fire" false.

"To support his claim, Spicer offered a few pieces of misleading or inaccurate evidence," said PolitiFact. "He said that floor coverings highlighting empty spaces on the National Mall were not used for previous inaugurations, but these were in place for Obama’s 2013 inauguration."

"He claimed metro ridership was higher for Trump’s inaugural than for Obama’s 2013 inaugural, but he compared numbers for the morning of Obama’s inaugural to the whole day for Trump’s," they added. "Spicer suggested 720,000 attended Trump’s inauguration, while organizers said they expected 700,000 to 900,000, and Trump himself estimated 1.5 million. All of those figures are less than the 1.8 million people who attended Obama’s 2009 inaugural."

"We rate Spicer’s claim Pants on Fire," the fact check concluded.

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