White House press secretary Sean Spicer held his first regularly scheduled press briefing, two days after he entered the room, read an angry statement disputing media reports about crowds size at the inauguration, and left without taking questions.
Spicer answered a wide range of questions, from the administration’s plans regarding Obamacare to fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS/ISIL) to no longer participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.
When asked if Trump’s administration is ready to work with Russia in the fight against IS, Spicer replied that the president is ready “to work with any country that helps us defeat ISIS,” including Russia. When asked if he’s ready to work with Syrian President Bashar Assad, he said: “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
The Trump administration’s relationship with the media got off to a rocky start on Saturday, President Donald Trump’s first full day in office. First, Trump spoke at CIA headquarters in front of the memorial to fallen agents, where he told agency employees that the “dishonest media” was to blame for his supposed “feud with the intelligence community.” He also claimed that the press skewed attendance figures for his inauguration, saying that there were “a million, a million and a half people” at the ceremony, while media said there were between 250,000 and 500,000 attendees.
Hours later, Spicer headed into the White House Brady Briefing Room, where he berated the media for for “deliberately false reporting” on the crowd’s size during a five-minute statement.
On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway, a Trump surrogate, appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where she told host Chuck Todd that Spicer used “alternative facts” in his statement about attendance.
“You’re saying it’s a falsehood and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that,” she told NBC’s Chuck Todd.
“Alternative facts aren’t facts, they are falsehoods,” Todd responded.
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus also made the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows, blasting the media for their “obsession by the media to delegitimize this president,” even as the press fought back against misinformation from the administration.
“I mean he has people comparing him to Baghdad Bob the first day in office, saying, ‘I can’t trust this guy,'” CNN media analyst Bill Carter said.
Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, said that the Trump administration got off on the wrong foot by using “shaky statistics” to pitch their first battle to “push back” at the media.