Spicer says media has obligation to tell the truth
– The Washington Times
White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended Monday the administration’s combative start with the media, saying President Trump and his aides have a right to correct journalists mistakes and what they view as media bias.
“I believe that sometimes we can disagree with the facts,” Mr. Spicer told a packed briefing room at his first question-and-answer session. “Our intention is never to lie to you. We should be afforded the same opportunity.”
He doubled down on his assertion that Mr. Trump’s inauguration was the “most watched” in history, despite photographs showing a much larger audience on the National Mall during President Obama’s inaugural in 2009.
“There were tens of millions of people that watched it online. It’s unquestionable. I don’t see any numbers that dispute that,” he said.
The new press secretary also cited what he called a “racially charged” mistake by a reporter who erroneously reported Friday night that Mr. Trump had removed a bust of Dr. Martin Luther King from the Oval Office.
“There’s an attempt to go after this president,” he said. “There’s a rush to judgment every time.”
Mr. Spicer shook up the press briefing routine of past administrations, calling on reporters by name near the back of the room and skirting some of the big television networks in the front row at the outset.
“I was going to start with a little recap of the inauguration, but I think we’ve covered that pretty well,” Mr. Spicer said.
He also joked that he wrote a note Sunday night to former Obama press secretary Josh Earnest, saying that Mr. Earnest’s status as the most popular press secretary was “secure” for at least the next few days.
Then Mr. Spicer departed from the previous press secretary’s habit of calling first on major news organizations such as Associated Press and CNN in the front row first, signaling a different approach. He came back to AP and CBS later in the session.