White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that it’s not always possible to provide entirely accurate information at press briefings given President Trump’s busy schedule.
According to Spicer, the White House press staff works hard every day to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding Trump’s policies and views, but doesn’t always get the opportunity to speak with him before meeting with the press corps.
“We get here early. We work pretty late. We do what we can, but the president is an activist president. He keeps a very robust schedule, as many of you are very well aware, as you can tell by the activities of next week alone,” Spicer said, referring to the president’s upcoming trip to the Middle East. “I think sometimes we don’t have an opportunity to get in to see him to get his full thinking. In those cases, we do our best to follow up with you.”
The issue of “perfect accuracy”— like so many other topics — came up during the daily press briefing because Trump had tweeted about it earlier in the day. He had argued that his surrogates cannot be expected to “stand at podium with perfect accuracy.” Those tweets were an apparent defense of deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, whose account of Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey conflicted with his own.
During the Friday briefing, Spicer appealed to the press for a bit more leniency concerning specifics and chastised reporters who he thinks are more interested in “gotcha moments” than legitimate journalism.
“I think that there are times when you more [often] than not read a story where someone’s trying to pull apart one word, one sentence, and say ‘aha’ and make it a ‘got you’ thing,” he said.
When asked about Trump’s suggestion that he might do away with press briefings altogether and instead hand out written responses “for the sake of accuracy,” Spicer said the president — like many other Americans — is frustrated with the media’s coverage of his administration.
He reiterated that the White House press team works hard to update the American people about the president’s actions to keep the nation safe and improve the economy, but that he thinks reporters are more interested in “gotcha journalism.”
“We see time and time again an attempt to parse every little word and make it more of a game of ‘gotcha’ as opposed to really figuring out what the policies are, why something’s being pursued or what the update is on this,” Spicer said. “And I think that’s where there’s a lot of dismay. And I don’t think it’s something that just alone the president feels.”
The Friday press briefing was Spicer’s first since Trump unexpectedly fired Comey on Tuesday evening. According to the White House, Spicer did not attend the Wednesday or Thursday press briefings because he had to fulfill Navy Reserve duty, leaving Sanders to answer a barrage of questions about Comey’s dismissal.
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