White House says media delegitimizing Trump, won't 'take it'

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WASHINGTON, Jan 22 (Reuters) - The White House vowed on Sunday to fight the news media "tooth and nail" over what officials see as unfair attacks on President Donald Trump, setting a tone that could ratchet up a traditionally adversarial relationship to a new level of rancor.

A day after the Republican president used his first visit to CIA headquarters on Saturday to accuse the media of underestimating the crowds at his inauguration, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus expressed indignation at the reports and referred to them as "attacks."

"The point is not the crowd size. The point is the attacks and the attempt to delegitimize this president in one day. And we're not going to sit around and take it," Priebus said on "Fox News Sunday."

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Donald Trump's first day as president
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Donald Trump's first day as president

White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter (2nd R) gives U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (R) the document to confirming James Mattis his Secretary of Defense, his first signing in the Oval Office in Washington, U.S. January 20, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

President Donald Trump turns to House Speaker Paul Ryan as he is joined by the Congressional leadership and his family as he formally signs his cabinet nominations into law, in the President's Room of the Senate, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 20, 2017.

(REUTERS/J. Scott Applewhite/Pool)

US President Donald Trump formally signs his cabinet nominations into law, at the Capitol in Washington, January 20, 2017.

(REUTERS/J. Scott Applewhite/Pool)

US President Donald Trump signs an executive order as Vice President Mike Pence looks on at the White House in Washington, DC on January 20, 2017.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is joined by the Congressional leadership and his family as he formally signs his cabinet nominations into law, in the President's Room of the Senate, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 20, 2017.

(REUTERS/J. Scott Applewhite/Pool)

US President Donald Trump signs an executive order as Vice President Mike Pence and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus look on at the White House in Washington, DC on January 20, 2017.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, as he is joined by the Congressional leadership and his family while he formally signs his cabinet nominations into law, at the Capitol in Washington, January 20, 2017. From left are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump.

(REUTERS/J. Scott Applewhite/Pool)

US President Donald Trump is joined by the Congressional leadership and his family, rear, wife Melania Trump, son Barron Trump, as he formally signs his cabinet nominations into law, at the Capitol in Washington, January 20, 2017.

(REUTERS/J. Scott Applewhite/Pool)

President Donald Trump prepares to sign a confirmation for Defense Secretary James Mattis as his Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (L) points to the order while Vice President Mike Pence watches January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch - Pool/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is joined by the Congressional leadership and his family as he formally signs his cabinet nominations into law, in the President's Room of the Senate, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 20, 2017.

(REUTERS/J. Scott Applewhite/Pool)

President Donald Trump signs his first executive order as president, ordering federal agencies to ease the burden of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch - Pool/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is joined by the Congressional leadership and his family as he formally signs his cabinet nominations into law, in the President's Room of the Senate, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 20, 2017.

(REUTERS/J. Scott Applewhite/Pool)

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Priebus complained about a press pool report that said the bust of Martin Luther King Jr had been removed from the Oval Office. The report on Friday night was quickly corrected but Trump called out the reporter by name at the Central Intelligence Agency on Saturday. Spokesman Sean Spicer also berated the reporter later in the day.

"We're going to fight back tooth and nail every day and twice on Sunday," Priebus said.

The chief of staff also repeated Spicer's accusations that the media manipulated photographs of the National Mall to show smaller crowds at Friday's inauguration.

Aerial photographs showed the crowds for Trump's inauguration were smaller than in 2009, when Barack Obama, the nation's first black president, was sworn in.

The unexpectedly high turnout for Saturday's Woman's March on Washington outpaced the inauguration turnout. The Washington subway system reported 275,000 rides of as of 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) on Saturday.

The subway system said 193,000 users had entered the system by 11 a.m. on Friday, compared with 513,000 at that time during Obama's 2009 inauguration. (Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Jeffrey Benkoe)


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