- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 21, 2017

White House press secretary Sean Spicer lashed out at the news media Saturday over what he called “deliberately false reporting” about President Trump’s first day in office.

At a hastily convened briefing at the White House, Mr. Spicer admonished the news media for tweets that falsely claimed Mr. Trump removed the Martin Luther King Jr. bust from the Oval Office and that presented photographs that minimized the size of the crowd.

“There has been a lot of talk in the media about the responsibility to hold Donald Trump responsible, and I’m here to tell you that it goes two ways. We’re going to hold the press accountable as well,” he said.

He noted that the tweet about the bust was “just plain wrong” and that the New York Times published a photograph that disputed the misleading image on Twitter.

“This kind of dishonesty in the media, the challenging that bringing about our nation together is making more difficult,” said Mr. Spicer.

The press secretary’s first briefing had been scheduled for Monday, but the briefing was called Saturdayafternoon in response to the reporting of the inauguration and Mr. Trump’s move to the White House.

After seeing a clear signal that the new administration wasn’t ready to push back against the White House press corp, Mr. Spicer end the briefing without taking questions.

Mr. Trump also denounced the reports about the Martin Luther King Jr. bust and the crowd size at the inauguration when addressing an overflow crowd Saturday at the CIA headquarters.

Mr. Spicer said that Mr. Trump should have made the visit accompanied by CIA Director-designate Mike Pompeo, whose confirmation was delayed Friday by Senate Democrats.

“State 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 [with] Tweets and false narratives,” Mr. Spicer told the press.

‘The president is committed to unifying our country and that was the focus of his inaugural address.” he said, adding that the job of unifying the country is made more difficult by “this kind of dishonest in the media.”

Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, said he saw Mr. Trump’s fingerprints on the impromptu briefing.

“This is called a statement you’re told to make by the President. And you know the President is watching,” tweeted Mr. Fleischer.

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