Sean Spicer has accused the BBC of perpetrating “fake news” thanks to a single tweet that was swiftly corrected.
The White House press secretary returned to the theme of alleged media fabrications, arguing US President Donald Trump and his staff are increasingly “frustrated” with news reports that are “patently false”.
When asked to name a “fake news” story, Spicer pointed to a tweet by the BBC’s Diplomatic Correspondent, James Landale.
Spicer had corrected Landale, the corporation’s former Deputy Political Editor, at the time.
Landale within half-an-hour acknowledged his error.
In the news conference, Spicer also referred to how the tweet had been quote shared by a Politico reporter who was moving to the New York Times.
Spicer complained on Tuesday:
“On Friday, the president was having a great discussion at the G7 and someone from the BBC, and ultimately an incoming reporter for the New York Times, retweeted that the president was being rude by disrespecting the Italian prime minister.
“When in fact, you all in all of the meetings watched the president with that one earpiece that’s been used by all the other presidents. That’s just fake!”
Spicer’s frustration may stem from Landale’s original message being re-tweeted more than 20,000 times, and the correction on less than 200 occasions.
CNN reporter Jim Acosta had initially challenged Spicer to make a citation, and later made the point that “reporters make mistakes”.
A second reporter, Peter Baker of The New York Times, suggested Spicer had lost proportion. He said: “Your trip was all over the front page. You’re making something out of one tweet instead of the vast majority of coverage.”
Spicer responded: “With all due respect, I think when you see instances like that get perpetrated over and over again, that is frustrating.”
It’s not the first time the Trump administration has clashed with the BBC.
During an extraordinary press conference earlier this year, the BBC’s North America Editor Jon Sopel suggested his Muslim travel ban was not running as smoothly as he suggested.
Trump snapped back: “Wait, wait, wait. I know who you are, just wait... We had a very smooth roll-out of the travel ban but we had a bad court, a bad decision.”
Trump didn’t appear to recognise Sopel, so asked where he was from and this exchange followed:
Trump: “Where you from?”
Trump: “Here’s another beauty.”
Sopel: “Good line. Impartial, free and fair.”
Trump: “Just like CNN.”
Sopel: “We could banter back and forth.”