WASHINGTON — With so many pressing global and domestic issues confronting the new Trump administration, his new press secretary Sean Spicer began his first official press conference with a joke about himself.
Spicer said the previous press secretary, Josh Earnest, who was voted most popular to work with by reporters last year, had a title that "is secure, at least for the next couple of days" based on his own Twitter mentions.
Spicer was referring to a much-maligned Saturday debut when he read a terse statement, disputing media reports of inauguration crowd sizes, criticizing reporters, and presenting false numbers on how big Trump's crowd was and how many people rode the metro this year compared to the 2013 inauguration.
The outing was so jarring — raising the implication that the new administration might just lie knowingly and publicly, an idea fueled the next day by Kellyanne Conway saying Spicer was merely offering up "alternative facts" — that he was asked Monday if he will always seek to tell the truth from the briefing room podium.
“It’s an honor to do this,” Spicer said, wearing a sharp navy blue suit with a purple tie. “I believe that we have to be honest with the American people… sometimes we can disagree with the facts. There are certain things that we may not fully understand when we come out but our intention is never to lie to you.”
Spicer continued that reporters are not malicious or intentional when they "misreport" something.
"I think we should be afforded the same opportunity," he said. "I'm going to come out here and tell you the facts as I know them."
Spicer again referenced to a Time magazine reporter who incorrectly reported in a pool report that the administration had removed a bust of MLK Jr. and then corrected himself and apologized.
"Where was the apology to the president of the United States?" Spicer asked.
But Monday's comments were at odds with his fiery remarks Saturday, when he said the reporter had engaged in "deliberate false reporting."
Spicer was again asked about his and the administration's fixation on crowd size, and he maintained that if you combine social media and online viewings, Trump's inauguration was the most watched.
"Reagan didn't have YouTube, Facebook, or the internet," Spicer quipped.
Still, Spicer sought to present himself in a better light, perhaps aware that he will have to at least have a working relationship with many of the reporters and news organizations in the room despite the Trump team's anti-media bluster. Spicer also took questions for roughly an hour and a half, calling on multiple news outlets and allowing time for follow-up questions.
At the end, the new press secretary seemed to have an earnest moment, calling on the press to acknowledge that not everything that administration does or will do is horrible.
"The default narrative is always negative and it's demoralizing...some days we do do the right thing, some days we are successful," he said, in an almost pleading tone.
Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at email@example.com.
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