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#AlternativeFacts: Twitter trolls Trump team over Conway, Spicer comments

President Donald Trump's administration has sparked a new Twitter trend – one that the White House probably isn't too thrilled with.

Hours after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that Trump drew "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period" – a claim that was quickly debunked by several media outlets – Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway sparred with Chuck Todd on Sunday's episode of "Meet the Press."

>> 'Saturday Night Live' takes swipe at Trump inauguration attendance – minus Alec Baldwin

"Why put (Spicer) out there for the very first time, in front of the podium, to utter a provable falsehood?" Todd asked. 

After the pair argued for a bit, Conway replied, "You're saying it's a falsehood, and ... Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that."

>> Read more trending stories

Todd wasn't buying it. 

"Wait a minute – alternative facts? Alternative facts? . ... Alternative facts are not facts; they're falsehoods," he fired back.

>> Watch the clip here

"Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods," Chuck Todd tells Pres. Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway this morning. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/Ao005dQ13r— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 22, 2017 <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The exchange quickly spread on social media, inspiring the snarky hashtag #AlternativeFacts.

>> Click here or scroll down to see what people were saying

<iframe src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/alternativefacts-twitter-trolls-trump-team-over-co/embed?header=none&amp;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe> <script src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/alternativefacts-twitter-trolls-trump-team-over-co.js?header=none&amp;border=false"></script> [View the story "#AlternativeFacts: Twitter trolls Trump team over Conway, Spicer comments" on Storify]

Trump's 'war with the media' raises questions of trust

Donald Trump's "running war" on the media is continuing into his presidency, with statements over the weekend calling into question the extent to which information from the White House can be trusted.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Monday will hold his first daily press briefing at which he could face questions about a statement Saturday night that included demonstrably false assertions about the crowd size at Friday's inauguration and a promise by the new administration that "we're going to hold the press accountable."

Some Trump supporters will no doubt cheer the continued antagonism toward the media that was central to the Republican's campaign for president. Now the stakes are higher.

Press secretaries have been lied to by their bosses, or misled reporters through the omission of information, but veteran journalist Dan Rather said Sunday it was the first time he could recall false material being delivered in this way.

"I hope that people will stop, pull back for what we in television call a wide shot and see what is happening," Rather said. "This is a deliberate propaganda campaign."

Longtime Republican operative Spicer, who most recently was the spokesman for the Republican National Committee and also worked for President George W. Bush, is known for fighting tenaciously for his employers. His briefing on Saturday followed a Trump appearance at the CIA where the president criticized the media for its reporting his criticisms of the intelligence community and took exception to stories saying the crowd for his inauguration was smaller than those for predecessor Barack Obama. Trump declared that journalists are "the most dishonest human beings on Earth," saying "I have a running war with the media."

Spicer made two unprovable statements in his briefing: that photographs of the audience at Trump's inaugural were intentionally framed to minimize the appearance of support, and that Trump drew the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration.

But he also made statements that were quickly disproven: that the Washington Metro system recorded more riders on the day of Trump's inaugural than when Obama was sworn in for his second term, that Friday marked the first time that white floor covering was used on the Washington Mall that amplified empty spaces, and it was the first time spectators were required to pass through magnetometers to enter the Mall.

Spicer's briefing, during which he did not take questions from reporters, was televised live on Fox News Channel and MSNBC. CNN did not air the session but showed highlights later.

Trump's first press conference after he was elected, on Jan. 11, also took aim at the media. Coming hours after news reports revealed intelligence officials had presented Trump with unsubstantiated and salacious allegations regarding his relationship to Russia, Trump and his team condemned news organizations that disclosed details, calling out CNN and BuzzFeed as "disgraceful" and refusing to take questions from a CNN reporter.

Confronted by "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd on Sunday with "falsehoods" stated by Spicer, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway called them "alternative facts." She accused Todd of laughing at her and said he symbolizes how Trump has been treated by the media.

One person who has been in Spicer's position, former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, said it seemed clear to him that Spicer was acting on orders from his boss. Press secretaries have to walk a fine line between reflecting the thinking and wishes of the president while trying to help the people covering him do their jobs, said Fleischer, who, like Spicer, worked for Bush.

Fleischer said he never knowingly delivered false information to the press while at the White House.

"You can't do that," he said. "It will shorten your career."

When Spicer faces the press on Monday, he needs to elaborate on his argument, "take the hard questions and demonstrate reasonableness," Fleischer said.

The conservative web site breitbart.com led its site with an article headlined: "White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer blasts media's 'deliberately false reporting.'" The article said that Spicer's "criticism of the media's fake news reporting resulted in a media meltdown on social media."

Yet it's a crucial time for Spicer's reputation. A press secretary whose word can't be trusted has no value to anyone, said Terence Hunt, a longtime White House correspondent and editor for The Associated Press who recently retired.

"You can't tell lies in the White House," Hunt said. "Somebody will smoke you out, on issues large and small. The president's integrity and credibility are at stake in everything you say, so be super careful."

If the White House can't be trusted to tell the truth on a relatively trivial matter like crowd size, the public will wonder about the reliability of information on important topics like terrorism or the nuclear capabilities of North Korea, said Ben Mullin, a managing editor at the Poynter Institute who does a podcast on the relationship between Trump and the press.

Former CBS anchor Rather, who famously tangled with the Nixon White House during the Watergate era, said the situation saddened him.

"I don't think the American people as a whole, whether they supported Donald Trump or not, want a situation where the press secretary to the president comes out and knowingly tells a lie," he said.

Baker of Trump's inauguration cake says she was commissioned to copy Obama's

Celebrity pastry chef and Food Network star Duff Goldman took to Twitter early Saturday to point out that President Donald Trump’s inauguration cake appeared to be an exact replica of the cake he designed and created for Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration.

>> 'Saturday Night Live' takes swipe at Trump inauguration attendance – minus Alec Baldwin

In a message posted to his Twitter account, Goldman included a side-by-side image of his cake creation next to Trump’s inaugural cake and wrote, “The cake on the left is the one I made for President Obama’s inauguration 4 years ago. The one on the right is Trump's. I didn’t make it."

The cake on the left is the one I made for President Obama's inauguration 4 years ago. The one on the right is Trumps. I didn't make it. pic.twitter.com/qJXpCfPhii— Duff Goldman (@Duff_Goldman) January 21, 2017

According to The Washington Post, neither Trump’s team nor Goldman responded to comment requests, but the woman who made the cake came forward to talk about her creation.

Tiffany MacIsaac, the owner of Buttercream Bakeshop in Washington, D.C., said she had been commissioned to create the cake.

>> PHOTOS: The inauguration of Donald Trump

She said a person, who is as of yet unnamed, came in with a photo of Obama’s cake and asked her to recreate it.

“They came to us a couple of weeks ago – which is pretty last minute – and said, ‘We have a photo that we would like to replicate,’” MacIsaac told The Washington Post.

>> PHOTOS: Donald Trump attends inaugural balls

The bakery tried to find out if the client wanted to use the cake as inspiration or an exact replica, but the person who brought in the picture said the cake should be exactly the same, MacIsaac said.

“They said, ‘Nope, they want this exact cake. It’s perfect.’ And we said, 'Great,'” MacIsaac said.

Excited to share the cake we got to make for one of last night's inaugural balls. While we most love creating original designs, when we are asked to replicate someone else's work we are thrilled when it is a masterpiece like this one. @duff_goldman originally created this for Obama's inauguration 4 years ago and this years committee commissioned us to re-create it.  Best part is all the profits are being donated to @humanrightscampaign, one of our favorite charities who we have loved working with over the years.  Because basic human rights are something every man, woman and child~ straight, gay or the rainbow in between~ deserve! A photo posted by Buttercream Bakeshop (@bttrcrmbakeshop) on Jan 21, 2017 at 7:35am PST

MacIsaac said she is surprised by all the attention because, per her understanding, the cake was only supposed to be used as a prop.

“It’s just a Styrofoam cake. It’s not for eating,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it to be seen on TV.”

>> Trump accuses media of lying about inauguration crowd

She said she did not mean to offend Goldman.

“Obviously, my intention was definitely not to upset him in any way," she said. "I just wish that it had not been presented the way that it was.”

MacIsaac added that the profits from her cake are being donated to the Human Rights Campaign.

>> Read more trending stories

Later Saturday, Goldman responded to the controversy with another tweet, complimenting MacIsaac on the recreation.

"Remembering a fantastic cake I made is awesome, and the chef that re-created it for @POTUS Trump did a fantastic job. Group hug, y’all," Goldman wrote.

Remembering a fantastic cake I made is awesome and the chef that re-created it for @POTUS Trump did a fantastic job. Group hug, y'all. — Duff Goldman (@Duff_Goldman) January 21, 2017

'Saturday Night Live' takes swipe at Trump inauguration attendance – minus Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin's absence didn't stop "Saturday Night Live" from taking yet another swipe at President Donald Trump.

>> 'SNL' writer under fire for Barron Trump tweet

In the comedy show's first episode after the inauguration, Beck Bennett reprised his role as a shirtless Vladimir Putin to offer Trump some words of advice – and derision.

>> Read more trending stories

"Donald, let's talk as friends. You're not off to a great start, man," Bennett's Putin said. "I thought you'd be better at this; however, I'm glad to see so many people showed up to your inauguration."

>> Trump slams 'Saturday Night Live' after press conference sketch

As a photo from Saturday's Women's March filled the screen, he added, "Oh, wait, that's the Women's March. Here is inauguration." A photo from Friday's ceremony appeared, showing smaller crowds.

>> Click here to watch the clip

Putin on this weekend's inauguration. #SNL pic.twitter.com/rL8bFao3H7— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) January 22, 2017 <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

"Putin" continued to slam Trump, taking aim at the president's Saturday remarks to the CIA.

"And today, you went to the CIA and said 1 million people came to see you in Washington, D.C.?" said Bennett, playing Putin. "If you're going to lie, don't make it so obvious. You know, say you are friends with LeBron James, not that you are LeBron James."

>> Watch the entire "cold open" here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised)

Although Baldwin, who occasionally plays Trump, did not appear on this week's episode, the actor did take to Twitter to blast Trump and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer for making debunked claims about attendance at the inauguration.

>> Click here or scroll down to see what he had to say

<iframe src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/saturday-night-live-takes-swipe-at-trump-inaugurat/embed?header=none&amp;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe> <script src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/saturday-night-live-takes-swipe-at-trump-inaugurat.js?header=none&amp;border=false"></script> [View the story "'Saturday Night Live' takes swipe at Trump inauguration attendance – minus Alec Baldwin" on Storify]

Alec Baldwin's Trump wasn't on 'SNL,' but mock-Putin was

Maybe Alec Baldwin was busy. Maybe "Saturday Night Live" figured viewers had seen plenty of President Donald Trump for real this inauguration weekend.

In any case, Baldwin's piercing Trump impersonation was absent for Saturday's edition, making way for cast member Beck Bennett's shirtless portrayal of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

In the NBC show's cold opening, mock-Putin addressed the audience as if to assure them that Trump's ascent is his, too.

"Yesterday, we all made Donald Trump the 45th president of the United States, and today many of you are scared and marching in the streets," make-believe Putin said, then added, "Relax. I got this."

"Do I think your president's perfect?" he went on. "Perhaps not. But don't worry. I'll get him there."

"Remember," he said consolingly, "we're in this together."

Nielsen: 31 million viewers saw Trump's swearing-in

Nielsen estimates 31 million viewers watched TV coverage of President Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday.

That audience total, measuring continuous coverage by 12 broadcast and cable networks, soundly beat the 20.6 million who viewed President Barack Obama's second inauguration in 2013. But a president's second swearing-in typically logs a drop-off in viewership. Obama's first inauguration in 2009 was seen by 37.8 million people.

Fox News Channel was by far the most-watched network of all, cable or broadcast, with 8.43 million viewers. Cable rivals CNN had 2.46 million and MSNBC had 1.35 million.

NBC was the most-watched broadcast network with 5.8 million viewers, followed by ABC (4.9 million) and CBS (4.6 million).

The most-watched inauguration since 1969 was President Ronald Reagan's first oath-taking in 1981, which was seen by 41.8 million people.

The debates between Trump and Hillary Clinton were watched by record numbers of viewers, with 84 million people tuning in to the highest-rated first debate in September 2016. However, daytime television has far fewer viewers than prime time.

'House of Cards' will 'Bring the Terror' in Season 5

As the nation watched Donald Trump being sworn in as the 45th president, Frank Underwood already was planning ahead.

>> Read more trending stories

Netflix released a teaser Friday for the fifth season of its presidential drama, "House of Cards." Underwood, the crafty politician played by Kevin Spacey, will return to action on May 30, Netflix announced.  

The teaser shows an American flag waving in the breeze as children recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The show's Twitter account added a comment: "We bring the terror."

Netflix retweeted the teaser, adding, "We couldn't possibly comment."

Over the show's four seasons, Spacey, as Underwood, has risen to the presidency using any means necessary.

The show has won six Emmy Awards.

We couldn't possibly comment. @HouseofCards​, May 30. https://t.co/Z9bjsMaOqd — Netflix US (@netflix) January 20, 2017 <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7rbTT9tU9Cw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

Guest lineups for the Sunday TV news shows:

ABC's "This Week" — Kellyanne Conway, adviser to President Donald Trump; Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and John McCain, R-Ariz.

___

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Conway, Schumer.

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CBS' "Face the Nation" — Conway; Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

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CNN's "State of the Union" — Schumer; Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

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"Fox News Sunday" — Reince Priebus, Trump's chief of staff; Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

Guest lineups for the Sunday TV news shows:

ABC's "This Week" — Kellyanne Conway, adviser to President Donald Trump; Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and John McCain, R-Ariz.

___

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Not immediately available.

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CBS' "Face the Nation" — Conway; Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

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CNN's "State of the Union" — Schumer; Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

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"Fox News Sunday" — Reince Priebus, Trump's chief of staff; Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Inauguration coverage shows deep divisions remain

The media brought a reverence for history and ceremony to its coverage of President Donald Trump's inaugural on Friday, yet deep divisions exposed in the campaign that brought him there weren't far from the surface.

With the armchair psychologists reading the expressions on Hillary Clinton's face, several sour reviews of Trump's inaugural address and images of rock-throwing protesters, the air of celebration was muted. Non-news networks ESPN, BET and MTV aired the moment when Barack Obama was sworn in eight years ago. Not this time.

An anti-Trump demonstration in Washington, D.C., was essentially ignored by television networks until the stands set up for dignitaries witnessing the oath of office cleared. Then pictures of demonstrators clashing with police emerged.

No doubt an incoming administration and supporters who frequently view the media as the enemy were taking notes.

"It's just disappointing that it's starting out with a little bit of a cloud," New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins said on ABC, in a discussion about colleagues who stayed away from Trump's inaugural in protest. "But that's the decision that they're making."

The living ex-presidents attended Trump's oath of office, with the exception of the hospitalized George H.W. Bush. Both Nicolle Wallace on NBC and Bob Schieffer on CBS noted that there was no evidence any of them voted for Trump.

Clinton reacted with silence when she arrived at the Capitol with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and reporters shouted questions about what it felt like to attend her rival's inauguration. Some on TV, like ABC's Anita McBride, didn't even need a reply: "That's not the smile of a woman who is happy to be here right now," she said.

"It's gotta sting," NBC's Lester Holt said.

Although some shouts of "lock her up" within the audience echoed the campaign, there was a moment of televised grace at the luncheon that followed when Trump saluted Clinton and dignitaries in attendance stood and applauded.

Following Trump's 16-minute inaugural address, Brian Williams on MSNBC drew a contrast to the new president's image of an "American carnage" to the call to action in President John F. Kennedy's 1961 speech.

Several commentators noted that the speech was aimed more at Trump's supporters than constituents who are suspicious of him.

"I have to say it was surprisingly divisive for an inaugural address," said NBC's "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd. "It's tough to be both a unifier and that populist carrier. He went with populism and I think it's going to play well with his folks but that wasn't the type of inaugural address that was intended to bring this country together."

ABC's Tom Llamas called it the first speech of Trump's re-election campaign.

"For anyone who hoped or thought that the magnitude of the moment would change Donald Trump, they were completely wrong," he said.

The speech was a repudiation to many of the politicians who surrounded Trump, analysts said. "It was definitely a bipartisan hand grenade," said CBS' Gayle King.

While the speech was dark, "if you were a Trump voter, you heard everything you wanted to hear," said CNN's John King.

On Fox News Channel, overwhelmingly the news source of choice for Trump supporters, analyst Dana Perino called the speech "very muscular." Tucker Carlson said it was populist, not conservative.

"Not poetic, but quite strong," Brit Hume said. "He painted this dark landscape of circumstances in America and promised to fix them all."

On social media, veteran commentator Keith Olbermann urged fans to boycott television coverage of the inauguration. Olbermann may not have been following his own advice, since he tweeted "Impeach Trump Now" less than a minute after the oath of office was administered.

Footage of anti-Trump protests filled the television void between the inaugural address and parade, and instantly became part of the divisive political conversation.

"If you want to help Donald Trump have a good start to his presidency, go out on the streets and throw rocks at police officers," said Fox News Channel's Chris Stirewalt, who said the images should solidify Trump's support in middle America.

It's a new era in Washington, and at no point was it clearer as when networks showed split-screen pictures of President Trump signing papers on one side, and former President Barack Obama speaking to fans shortly before boarding an airplane for California. Slowly, ABC turned the volume down on Obama and up on Trump.

CNN wiped Obama's picture off its screen altogether.

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Associated Press writers Frazier Moore and Mark Kennedy in New York, and Lynn Elber in Los Angeles, contributed to this report.

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