The First Cover-up: How Many People Attended Trump's Inauguration?
January 21, 2017
The Huffington Post & Joshua Gillin / Politifact & Maya Kosoff / Vanity Fair & Elizabeth Williamson / The New York Times
Donald Trump boasted that there would be a "record-setting turnout for the inauguration." When that didn't happen, Trump dressed up his new Twitter account with a picture-perfect inauguration photo. But it was a photo of President Obama's well-attended 2009 inauguration (which drew 1.8 million spectators), not Trump's sparsely attended event (which drew perhaps a third of Obama's numbers). So how many spectators did Trump draw? We don't know. It appears to be a state secret.
The National Mall Looked
Relatively Empty For Donald Trump's Inauguration
The Huffington Post
"We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration."
-- Donald J. Trump
(January 20, 2017) -- Aerial shots of the National Mall during President Donald Trump's inauguration Friday showed relatively sparse crowds.
Crowd estimates for the ceremony have yet to be released, but turnout was certainly lower than Trump said he anticipated.
"We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars," he said earlier this month, according to The New York Times.
Security had planned for a crowd of about 800,000 to 900,000 people.
Photos taken just prior to the swearing-in ceremony showed large portions of tarp exposed, with almost no one standing near the Washington Monument.
Reuters captured a shot while the ceremony was underway:
The attendance pales in comparison to former President Barack Obama's first inauguration in 2009, which drew approximately 1.8 million people to the Mall. However, Obama's inauguration was an anomaly, due to the historic nature of the country having elected its first black president and the support he received from younger voters.
Here's what the crowds looked like on Obama's first inauguration:
Ridership of Washington's Metro on Friday was also comparable to the day of George W. Bush's second inauguration, but less than both Obama inaugurations.
Most other modern inaugurations have had numbers similar to Trump's. Bush's first inauguration drew about 300,000 people, while attendance at his second inauguration was estimated around 400,000. Bill Clinton drew 800,000 at his first inauguration in 1993 and 250,000 at his second.
Democratic presidents also have a built-in crowd advantage in Washington, D.C., and its surrounding suburbs -- the region is largely populated by Democratic voters.
At least some people trying to attend Trump's inauguration apparently were stuck in line as the ceremony got underway.
Inaugural Crowd Sizes Ranked
Joshua Gillin / Politifact
(January 20th, 2017) -- Just prior to his inauguration, President Donald Trump predicted huge crowds for his ceremony. Estimates are still rolling in about how many actually attended. Photos seem to show it was fewer people than for Barack Obama's two inaugurations.
But the number of attendees at inaugurations has varied widely throughout the years. Due to controversies over estimates, the National Park Service no longer releases official estimates for how many people attend events on the National Mall. It stopped after a dispute over the tally of the Million Man March in 1995.
The U.S. Armed Forces Joint Task Force-National Capital Region and the Joint Congressional Committee, which plan and support inaugural proceedings, will not be releasing estimates, either.
Part of the issue is that estimating crowds is not an exact science, and tallies can be inconsistent.
Organizers did initially say they expected between 700,000 and 900,000 people. It's not immediately clear how many were in Washington on Friday, although journalists and comedians offered their own views. (We'll update this story when we learn more.) Prior estimates give us an idea of how many people showed up for past inaugurations.
Barack Obama, 2013: 1 million
Barack Obama, 2009: 1.8 million (generally considered a record for people on the National Mall)
George W. Bush, 2005: 400,000
George W. Bush, 2001: 300,000
Bill Clinton, 1997: 250,000
Bill Clinton, 1993: 800,000
George H.W. Bush, 1989: 300,000
Ronald Reagan, 1985: 140,000 tickets sold, but record cold moved the swearing-in ceremony indoors
Ronald Reagan, 1981: 10,000, according to the New York Times. This was the first year the ceremony was performed on the west side of the Capitol.
Trump Makes First Gaffe as President,
Steals Twitter Photo from Obama
Maya Kosoff / Vanity Fair
(January 20, 2017) -- On Friday at noon, Donald Trump became the 45th president of the United States and officially took over the @POTUS Twitter account (Barack Obama's tweets have been preserved on the newly created @POTUS44). As the peaceful transfer of executive power took place onstage in Washington, D.C., something similar happened on Twitter.
There was one hiccup, though: Trump's new Twitter header photo is actually a picture from Obama's 2009 inauguration. Trump didn't inherit the header photo from Obama when he took over -- just Obama's followers and his Twitter handle. Someone on Trump's team had to pick out the picture, and thought the cheery images of Democrats waving American flags would do nicely.
In other words -- for not the first time in recent memory -- a Trump had seemingly stolen intellectual property from an Obama. Twitter users were quick to point out the similarities:
* banner image on new @realDonaldTrump's @potus account shows highly attended inauguration... from 2009
* The photo background of @POTUS is that of an inauguration that took place on a sunny day, not today and NOT at Trump's. Perhaps Obama's?
Trump's team quickly updated the header photo.
President Trump's First Twitter Mistake
Elizabeth Williamson / The New York Times
President Trump dressed up his new Twitter account with a picture-perfect inauguration photo: Barack Obama's. Minutes after he was sworn in, the Tweeter-in-chief took over the presidential handle, @POTUS. The new banner on the account was a lovely inauguration day photo, with the Capitol in the background, people waving flags, sunny weather . . . wait a minute. It was gloomy and drizzly for today's inauguration . . .
It turns out the banner photo was of President Obama's 2009 inauguration, not President Trump's. The photo soon disappeared, but not before it was captured for posterity by Mashable.
For those wondering: if you search "First Lady" on the brand-new White House website, a biography of Melania Trump, not Michelle Obama, appears. We can tell because it prominently mentions Mrs. Trump's QVC line of jewelry.
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