”I set the die on that day for a lot of what was to come. “
BBC host Emily Maitlis interviewed former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and accused him of “corrupting the discourse in the entire world” by amplifying the lies of President Donald Trump.
Specifically, she pressed him on his bullish assertion that Trump’s inauguration had the largest attendance in history, a falsehood so blatant it gave birth to Kellyanne Conway’s timeless Orwellian catchphrase, “alternative facts.”
Spicer is currently touring the late-night mediascape to promote his new memoir, “The Briefing.”
Spicer’s crowd-size faux-pas took place in his very first press briefing, setting the hostile tone that will become characteristic of Trump’s press secretaries.
By aggressively insisting on a detail both vain and palpably false, Spicer had signaled early on that the new president will follow his own priorities, as well as his own set of facts.
Here’s the play-by-play:
Spicer, pressed on the crowd-size debacle: “I’m very clear in the book that if there’s a day that I would love a do-over on, it’s that one. I set the die on that day for a lot of what was to come. I think what I was trying to do, and clearly not well, was change the focus from the number of people attending it, to focus on the total audience that had watched it.”
On “alternative facts”: “We were calling around and we used Metropolitan Police numbers we had gotten as opposed to information from the National Park Service.”
Maitlis had to interject: “My point is it became a joke and it became something that defined you. You joked about it when you presented the Emmy award, but it wasn’t a joke. It was the start of the most corrosive culture. You played with the truth. You led us down a dangerous path. You corrupted discourse for the entire world by going along with these lies.”
Spicer responded: “You are taking no accountability for the false narratives, false stories that the media perpetrated.”
And Maitlis hit back: “He uses fake news when he doesn’t like something.”