White House press secretary Sean Spicer holds first official news conference

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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held his first official press conference Monday. (KGO-TV)

White House press secretary Sean Spicer is saying the Trump administration's "intention is never to lie to you."

FULL VIDEO: President Trump's Inauguration Speech


Spicer faced questions Monday during his first briefing after his angry statement in which he denounced the media's correct reporting that the crowd at Trump's inauguration was smaller than at his predecessor's eight years ago.



Spicer said "sometimes we may disagree" about facts and said he wanted to have a "healthy relationship" with the White House press corps.

He added that "if we make a mistake, we'll do our best to correct" it.

The press secretary said he was given incorrect information about Washington Metro's ridership when he addressed the issue Saturday but insisted that, when TV and online viewership are combined, that it was the most-watched inaugural in history.

Press secretaries have been lied to by their bosses, or misled reporters through the omission of information, but veteran journalist Dan Rather said Sunday it was the first time he could recall false material being delivered in this way.

"I hope that people will stop, pull back for what we in television call a wide shot and see what is happening," Rather said. "This is a deliberate propaganda campaign."

Spicer, a longtime Republican operative who most recently was the spokesman for the Republican National Committee and also worked for President George W. Bush, is known for fighting tenaciously for his employers. His briefing on Saturday followed a Trump appearance at the CIA where the president criticized the media for reporting his criticisms of the intelligence community.


He also took exception to stories saying the crowd for Friday's inauguration was smaller than those for predecessor Barack Obama. Trump declared that journalists are "the most dishonest human beings on Earth," saying "I have a running war with the media."

FULL VIDEO: President Donald Trump's inauguration speech

Spicer made two unprovable statements in his briefing: that photographs of the audience at Trump's inaugural were intentionally framed to minimize the appearance of support, and that Trump drew the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration.

But he also made statements that were quickly disproven: that the Washington Metro system recorded more riders on the day of Trump's inaugural than when Obama was sworn in for his second term, that Friday was the first time that white floor covering was used on the Washington Mall, amplifying empty spaces, and that it was the first time spectators were required to pass through magnetometers to enter the Mall.

Spicer's Saturday briefing, during which he did not take questions from reporters, was televised live on Fox News Channel and MSNBC. CNN did not air the session but showed highlights later.

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Trump's first press conference after he was elected, held on Jan. 11, also took aim at the media. Coming hours after news reports revealed intelligence officials had presented Trump with unsubstantiated and salacious allegations regarding his relationship to Russia, Trump and his team condemned news organizations that disclosed details, calling out CNN and BuzzFeed as "disgraceful" and refusing to take questions from a CNN reporter.

Confronted by "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd on Sunday with "falsehoods" stated by Spicer, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway called them "alternative facts." She accused Todd of laughing at her and said he symbolizes how Trump has been treated by the media.

One person who has been in Spicer's position, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, said it seemed clear to him that Spicer was acting on orders from his boss. Press secretaries have to walk a fine line between reflecting the thinking and wishes of the president while trying to help the people covering him do their jobs, said Fleischer, who, like Spicer, worked for George W. Bush.

Fleischer said he never knowingly delivered false information to the press while at the White House. "You can't do that," he said. "It will shorten your career."

During Monday's press conference, The Trump administration expressed it is willing to partner with Moscow to combat the Islamic State group.

Spicer said Mr. Trump has been "very clear" that he will "work with any country committed to defeating ISIS."

He says the administration will work "with Russia or anyone else" to defeat the militant group, either on a military front, or an economic front.

The president has vowed that he'll defeat the al-Qaida offshoot "quickly" when he takes office, though he has not provided specifics on his plans for U.S. military efforts in Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. and Russia have been at odds over Russian-backed Syrian military action in Aleppo.

Click here for more stories about President Donald Trump.
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(Copyright ©2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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