Trump’s White House reserves ‘right to disagree’
Washington, Jan 24 (IANS) White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said that he and his team reserve the right to occasionally “disagree with the facts” asking for the same chance as the press to issue a “correction” if mistakes were made, a media report said on Tuesday.
At his first daily press briefing on Monday, Spicer responded to reporters’ questions for more than 90 minutes, Efe news reported.
Answering one about the nature of his job as press secretary he said that it was “to tell the truth from the White House press room podium”.
“It’s an honour to do this. I believe we have to be honest … I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts. Our intention is never to lie to you,” Spicer said.
Reporters are “in the same boat,” he said, adding “I mean, there are times when you guys tweet something out or write a story and you publish a correction.
“That doesn’t mean that you were intentionally trying to deceive readers and the American people, does it? And I think that we should be afforded the same opportunity.”
Spicer has found himself in the midst of controversy since Saturday, when in his first appearance before reporters in the press room – and without taking questions – he chastised the media for allegedly “minimising” the number of people attending President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday.
On that occasion, he said that never before had there been such a large crowd at a US inauguration, both in person and viewing the event on television or mobile devices around the world.
This was despite the fact that there were no official figures on that viewership and aerial images and the analysis of experts indicated that the Capitol ceremony drew a much smaller crowd than the 1.5 million Trump had claimed.
At Monday’s press briefing, Spicer did not back away from that claim and neither did Presidential Adviser Kellyanne Conway, who on Sunday said that he had offered reporters “alternative facts,” a statement that sparked astonishment and immediate indignation among the media and on the social networks.
Spicer did say, however, that although the media makes mistakes all the time, everyone in the media tries to do the best work they can in their respective positions.
Adopting a much more cordial tone with the press than he displayed on Saturday, Spicer, however, reaffirmed that Trump’s inauguration was the most-viewed in history and called for figures to dispute that allegation.
When asked if he wanted to amend his statement from Saturday, the press secretary sidestepped the question, saying that the figures he used in coming to that conclusion — Washington Metro ridership numbers — were produced by an outside group and not the Metro management, but he said he did not make them up.