In his first official appearance as the White House spokesman, Sean Spicer hit out at the media over their reporting on the numbers at Donald Trump's inauguration, falsely claiming Trump drew the biggest inauguration crowd in history.

Press outlets had shared numbers of people who had travelled on the DC Metro and initial estimates on crowd size at the inauguration on 20 January, which suggested there were far fewer people in attendance than at Barack Obama's first inauguration in 2009.

The Metro Washington released figures stating that 193,000 had taken journeys by 11am on 20 January. The inauguration ceremony was held at noon.The Guardian reported that 513,000 journeys were made before

The Guardian reported that 513,000 journeys were made before 11am on 20 January 2009, when Barack Obama was sworn in.

While there were an estimated 1.8 million people are Obama's 2009 ceremony, initial estimates of the crowds at Trump's event were around 250,000.

"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe," Spicer said in his statement.

Spicer refused to take questions from journalists.

The press secretary also said side-by-side photographs of Trump's inauguration compared to Obama's event – which showed far fewer people in the crowd for Trump's swearing in – were "intentionally framed in a way to minimise support for Trump", The Hill reported.

The president also suggested the numbers at his inauguration were higher than reported, stating: "I get up this morning and I turn on one of the networks and they show an empty field.

"I said wait a minute, I made a speech, I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, a million and a half people.

He added: "Honestly it looked like a million and half people, whatever it was it was. But it went all the way back to the Washington Monument… and by mistake I get this network and it showed an empty field, and it said we drew 250,000 people. Now that's not bad, but its a lie."

Spicer reiterated Trump's statement, explaining: "all of this space was full when the president took the oath of office", despite time-stamped photos being shared on social media showing the empty space as Trump was sworn in.

Videos taken at the time of the ceremony also showed thin crowds and empty stands built for audiences.

PBS, the US public service broadcaster, produced a timelapse video of the event. It shows the inauguration audience did not reach the Washington Monument in the National Mall, despite Trump's claims.