Sean Spicer and Freedom of the Press

Last night, Sean Spicer made remarks as the Press Secretary. They were published to the Press Pool and you can read the release at the bottom of this post. Of note, Sean mentioned the brou-ha-ha about the MLK bust. An error was made by the pool press and was quickly corrected. Of larger import, Sean talked about the size of the crowds at the inaugural.

While many people are talking about the fact that it was an indefensible, factual lie, there is something more important here. That is, Sean wasn’t doing his job: he was instead pandering to his boss. The job of the Press Secretary is to report on factual things that are going on, so that the press is able to disseminate that information correctly to the American public. It is one of the most fundamental premises of the US Constitution: a free press. And the press can only be free if the government allows it to report, and the press CANNOT report on the Executive Branch if it plays a shell game with the truth. You end up with “Pravda” – the “news” source of the USSR. “Pravda” by the way, translates to “truth”, which should give you an idea of what they wanted to disseminate. In the USSR Pravda was owned and operated by the Kremlin. And there is an old Russian joke: “There’s no difference between freedom of the press in America and freedom of the press here. You can say whatever you want. The only difference is that the next day an American wakes up at home, and the Russian wakes up in the Gulag.” Already, members of the press have been dropped from the press list. We must stand up for a free press and the ability of the members of the press to have access to what actually happens, and to disseminate.

Here at DCW, we’ve taken that seriously since we began back in 2005. We source check, and the few times we’ve gotten things wrong, we’ve immediately corrected. Even though we are small, we fulfill an important role and hope you’ll support us. Want to? Please like us on Facebook, because the more likes we have, the better our reach. Also follow us on Twitter –> the blog itself link here, Oreo link here, and my link here.  As an aside, people are always telling me there are no photos of me, if you click on my Twitter feed, you’ll see me hugging my favourite Founding Father.

As a complete aside — my favourite Founding Father wrote my favourite Federalist Paper, which is especially important under a Rump administration. If you know what that Paper is, and why it’s critically important in 2017, and you post the correct answer on DCW’s Facebook page, I will take you to the Constitution Center and then take you out for a really nice lunch in Philadelphia.



Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                        January 21, 2017


James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

5:39 P.M. EST

SPICER:  Good evening.  Thank you guys for coming.  I know our first official press briefing is going to be on Monday, but I wanted to give you a few updates on the President’s activities.  But before I get to the news of the day, I think I’d like to discuss a little bit of the coverage of the last 24 hours.

Yesterday, at a time when our nation and the world was watching the peaceful transition of power and, as the President said, the transition and the balance of power from Washington to the citizens of the United States, some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting.  For all the talk about the proper use of Twitter, two instances yesterday stand out.

One was a particular egregious example in which a reporter falsely tweeted out that the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.  After it was pointed out that this was just plain wrong, the reporter casually reported and tweeted out and tried to claim that a Secret Service agent must have just been standing in front of it.  This was irresponsible and reckless.

Secondly, photographs of the inaugural proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the National Mall.  This was the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall.  That had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing, while in years past the grass eliminated this visual.  This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past.

Inaccurate numbers involving crowd size were also tweeted.  No one had numbers, because the National Park Service, which controls the National Mall, does not put any out.  By the way, this applies to any attempts to try to count the number of protestors today in the same fashion.

We do know a few things, so let’s go through the facts.  We know that from the platform where the President was sworn in, to 4th Street, it holds about 250,000 people.  From 4th Street to the media tent is about another 220,000.  And from the media tent to the Washington Monument, another 250,000 people.  All of this space was full when the President took the Oath of Office.  We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural.  This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.  Even the New York Times printed a photograph showing a misrepresentation of the crowd in the original Tweet in their paper, which showed the full extent of the support, depth in crowd, and intensity that existed.

These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.  The President was also at the — as you know, the President was also at the Central Intelligence Agency and greeted by a raucous overflow crowd of some 400-plus CIA employees.  There were over 1,000 requests to attend, prompting the President to note that he’ll have to come back to greet the rest.  The employees were ecstatic that he’s the new Commander-in-Chief, and he delivered them a powerful and important message.  He told them he has their back, and they were grateful for that.  They gave him a five-minute standing ovation at the end in a display of their patriotism and their enthusiasm for his presidency.

I’d also note that it’s a shame that the CIA didn’t have a CIA Director to be with him today when he visited, because the Democrats have chosen — Senate Democrats are stalling the nomination of Mike Pompeo and playing politics with national security.  That’s what you guys should be writing and covering, instead of sowing division about tweets and false narratives.

The President is committed to unifying our country, and that was the focus of his inaugural address.  This kind of dishonesty in the media, the challenging — that bringing about our nation together is making it more difficult.

There’s been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump accountable.  And I’m here to tell you that it goes two ways.  We’re going to hold the press accountable, as well.  The American people deserve better.  And as long as he serves as the messenger for this incredible movement, he will take his message directly to the American people where his focus will always be.

And with that, a few other updates from the day.  The President had a constructive conversation with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada about strengthening the relationship between our two nations.  They also discussed setting up additional meetings in the days to come, which we will follow up on.  He also spoke to Prime Minister Peña Nieto of Mexico, and talked about a visit on trade, immigration and security that will occur on the 31st.  The President will welcome his first foreign leader this Thursday when the United Kingdom’s Theresa May will come to Washington — on Friday.

Tomorrow, the President will oversee his Assistants to the President being sworn in.  The staff will then have an ethics briefing, a briefing on the proper use and handling of classified information.  Further updates as far as what he will do — oh, and then in the evening, he will have a reception for law enforcement and first responders that helped support the inauguration.

Thank you guys for being here tonight.  I will see you on Monday.

END           5:44 P.M. EST


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