An exchange between NBC’s Chuck Todd and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway got intense this morning on Meet the Press, concerning White House Communications Director and Press Secretary Sean Spicer laying into the news media yesterday. Spicer rightfully criticized the media for disseminating false reporting about the Martin Luther King Jr. bust being removed from the Oval Office, but also slammed the media for what he felt was a misreporting of the inauguration.
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration. Period. Both in person and around the globe,” said Spicer. Prior to this remark, he offered estimates regarding inauguration attendance.
"Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods," Chuck Todd tells Pres. Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway this morning. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/Ao005dQ13r— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 22, 2017
There is no doubt that President Trump can draw a crowd—and there was a significant one that witnessed him being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Yet, his inauguration being the largest to ever is not correct, something that Todd brought up with Conway.
The Meet the Press host noted that Spicer is not just the voice of the White House, but also for the country—and what puzzled Todd was that his first engagement with the public--and the White House Press Corps--was to disseminate a provable falsehood.
Conway shot back noting that as soon as the doors to the Oval Office were opened for the media to watch the president sign some executive orders, Time’s Zeke Miller tweeted that the bust of MLK, Jr. was missing, which he later corrected. The reason he missed it was due to a Secret Service agent reportedly standing in front of it, obscuring it from view.
Conway added that this incident is emblematic of the larger news media that is decidedly negative about the Trump administration.
Todd said that it does not excuse her from answering the question regarding why the president asked Spicer to head into the press briefing room and relay a falsehood.
“It undermines the credibility of the entire White House Press Office on day one,” said Todd
“No, it doesn’t. Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck,” replied Conway.
She added that Spicer gave the press “alternative facts” to the press to correct the record.
"Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods,” shot back Todd.
Conway then cited the failed agenda of Barack Obama, with the loss of health insurance for millions of Americans, the 16.1 million women still living in poverty, and the billions spent of education that has done next to nothing to improve standards or conditions. That’s what Conway and this administration want the press to focus on since Obama's failure is the reason they’re occupying the White House.
Todd said he understood that, but noted that this had nothing to do with what happened yesterday with Spicer. Moreover, he added that it was a falsehood over the “smallest, pettiest thing.” He just doesn’t understand why he did it.
Conway said there is no real way to calculate crowd sizes, which drew some chuckles from Todd. She told him he can laugh at her all he wants, which Todd replied that he isn’t laughing at her—he’s just “befuddled” by this move.
Conway also said during the interview that if the news media was going to continue to refer to Spicer as someone who just disseminated a falsehood, “We’re going to have to rethink our relationship here.”