Leader comment: Trump starts picking fights

Barely a day into his presidency and Donald Trump has fired a ­broadside '“ another one '“ at the US media. That his grievance is over the ­numbers of people who attended his inauguration ­compared with the attendance at Barack Obama's inauguration borders on the absurd when viewing photographs of the crowds at both events. But issue has been taken, despite photo evidence appearing to show many more people at the Obama event.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told assembled reporters that Trump's had been the best attended inauguration ever, although his figures did not add up to that, and said the press would be held to account. Picture:  Alex Wong/Getty Images
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told assembled reporters that Trump's had been the best attended inauguration ever, although his figures did not add up to that, and said the press would be held to account. Picture: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Now the US president has accused the media of dishonesty, while also belittling – by ­Twitter of course – the massive turnout in protest marches and gatherings on Saturday over women’s rights.

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It is nothing other than worrying when the most powerful man in the Western world is arguing about how many attended his ­inauguration, and then claiming that his own estimate is right, without offering any ­evidence to support his contention. Indeed, all independent evidence and estimates of the numbers who attended strongly suggest that he is heavily in the wrong.

After the many provocative, and at times contradictory, statements made by Trump in his hugely controversial election ­campaign, there had been hope, albeit slim, that proximity to the highest office would see a moderation in his rhetoric and some attempt to strike a placatory, unifying note in his inaugural address. Quite the opposite proved the case.

Now come ominous signs that a siege ­mentality may already be setting in. That in turn suggests a presidency that from the very first is set to be at war against all and any – the Press, his own party, Congress and the ­governments of other nations, who fail to bow before him. It’s not a promising start.