Donald Trump’s under-fire Press Secretary has continued to argue the new President’s inauguration was the most-watched in history - arguing with a journalists that “sometimes we can disagree with the facts”.
Sean Spicer doubled down on his extraordinary press conference on Saturday when he claimed Friday’s swearing in was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration - period - both in person and around the globe”. It was one of four claims that were not true.
In the first official White House press conference of the Trump administration, he appeared to suggest there were two versions of the truth:
“I believe that we have to be honest with the American people, but I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts. There are certain things we may not fully understand when we come out. Our intention is never to lie to you.”
‘Sometimes we can disagree with the facts’ echoes Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway on Sunday arguing Spicer was not lying, but merely offering up the Orwellian “alternative facts”.
He went on to suggest press officers should be afforded the same opportunity to correct facts as reporters.
But he modified his main claim, suggesting the total audience was bigger than for previous presidents, taking account of people watching on TV and online, making the point by arguing: “Reagan didn’t have YouTube.”
He later clarified he was on Saturday talking about “total audience”: “It is the total largest audience witnessed in person and around the globe.”
There is evidence that the event drew a smaller physical crowd and lower television viewership than past inaugurations - while fact-checkers have cast doubt on whether it was the most-viewed in total.