In the first official White House press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was pressed on the statement he made over the weekend about President Donald Trump’s crowd sizes at the inauguration.
As you may recall, Spicer berated the press for how it reported on the size of the inauguration audience, telling the gathered reporters that “this was the largest audience to witness an inauguration. Period!” After many in the media ridiculed Spicer for presenting obvious untruths in his statement, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway defended him, saying he was giving “alternative facts.”
After starting the presser with a joke about his statement, Spicer took several questions at the beginning unrelated to the controversy. Jonathan Karl of ABC finally broached the subject, asking Spicer about if he’d promise not to tell a lie while at the podium.
“Is it your intention to always tell the truth from that podium,” Karl asked. “And will you pledge never to knowingly say something that is not factual?”
Following Spicer stating that it should be a two-way street with the media and stating that when someone issues a correct it can show they weren’t trying to deliberately mislead the public, Karel then asked Spicer if he wanted to issue any corrections.
With the press sec telling Karl to ask away, the ABC correspondent brought up the metro ridership, which was one of the key things that Spicer used to state that Trump’s inauguration crowd size was greater than Barack Obama’s in 2013.
After Spicer said he gave the numbers he was provided at the time, Karl then pressed Spicer to answer if he was willing to stand by his claim that the inauguration was the most-watched.
“Sure, it was the most watched,” the secretary exclaimed. “One network alone got 16.9 people online. Tens of millions watched it online. Nevermind the audience that was here. 31 million people watched it on television.”
Karl then said he didn’t want to get into numbers, with Spicer shooting back by saying “I do!” The press secretary then proceeded to rattle off a list of numbers with Karl unable to counter as it was apparent he didn’t have any on hand to come back with.
Spicer would continue to hammer away at the press in the back-and-forth, bringing up the Martin Luther King bust flap, something the reporter who inaccurately stated that it had been moved from the Oval Officer apologized for numerous times, with Spicer accepting.
Apology accepted https://t.co/dYqwRv1p0f
— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) January 21, 2017
Watch the whole exchange above.
[image via screengrab]
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