President Trump woke up Saturday fuming over tweets from Friday afternoon unfavorably comparing the size of his inaugural crowd to those of former President Barack Obama, The New York Times reports, citing "several people close to him." Several senior advisers reportedly urged him to move on, while other aides, including press secretary Sean Spicer, encouraged him to hit back at the press — which Trump did, at CIA headquarters on Saturday, saying he has a "running war with the media" and accusing the press of lying about his inaugural crowd, which he incorrectly pegged at about 1.5 million.
Spicer then held his first press briefing and told the gathered reporters that Trump's was "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," which is demonstrably false. Senior counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Meet the Press Sunday that Spicer was citing "alternative facts," and White House chief of staff Reince Preibus said the media was trying to delegitimize Trump's win. By Sunday night, Trump friends and allies were telling the media they were ready to hit the reset button.
"They got off to a very rocky start because they see everyone as adversaries," Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, a Trump friend who talks with him often, told Politico. Trump is surrounded by new people, Ruddy said, and "one of the things they don't understand about him is he likes pushback. They are not giving him the pushback he needs when he's giving advice.... If he doesn't have people who can tell him no, this is not going to go very well." Another "person who frequently talks to Trump" agreed, specifying that aides have to control information that sets him off, Politico reports. "He gets bored and likes to watch TV, this person said, so it is important to minimize that."
"The truth of the matter is he had a successful inauguration with a respectful crowd. The transition of power went off without a hitch. His supporters were amiable by and large," presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told Politico. "But then he can never let go and stop watching cable TV. Now he's off to the worst start of a presidency in a very long time."
Other Trump friends said the new president is just being the "folksy" leader his supporters love, arguing that the media doesn't have much credibility. But even allies urged aides to contain Trump's worst impulses. "It's unconventional at best and disastrous at worst," said Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), whose governorship was derailed when he disappeared to meet his foreign mistress, telling aides he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. "These distractions have the capacity to sink his entire administration."