New Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer started off well enough at Monday’s briefing. He tried to lighten the mood with some jokes (that fell flat). He answered number of questions in a rapid fire fashion, reeling off reporters’ names and their media outlets when calling on them. But then…there always seems to be a “But then…” with these Trump people.
“Our intention is to never to lie to you.” Good to know Mr. Spicer. “[The White House] can disagree with the facts.” Um, no. Facts are facts. Alternative facts as presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway called them, are falsehoods, they’re lies.
Spicer already had considerable distance to make up after the weekend debacle that was an appearance by Spicer in front of the White House press corps. He chose to pick a fight about the crowd size at the inaugural. What he insisted was true was not. Just like that he lost credibility. If a press secretary has no credibility, he has role.
Spicer, who I strangely admired during the campaign for standing his ground in defending Trump, doesn’t see the difference between being a campaign surrogate and a White House press secretary.
First, a campaign hack can angry and show passion for whatever spin he wants to put on an issue. A press secretary needs to remain calm and measured. Second, campaign spokesmen can play fast and loose with the truth. Not so much in the White House briefing room.
Even in Monday’s briefing Spicer stuck to the story that the Trump inauguration was the most witnesses ever. “Period.” This time he cited the number of trips on the DC Metro as proof of his assertion. The numbers he used didn’t line up with those from the Metro itself. He said he was also relying on figures from the Presidential Inauguration Committee which used “an outside agency.”
Like it or not, Mr. Spicer, the press is the public’s conduit to president through the press secretary. 140 character tweets don’t cut it. No one believes the tweets. Spicer is now the source of facts. No alternative facts that can be argued.