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Trump administration wastes no time in fighting the press over facts

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s tone was different on Monday, but his message was the same as over the weekend: The Trump administration feels that the press is unfair. At the CIA on Saturday, President Trump called members of the media “are among the most dishonest human beings on earth.” Lisa Desjardins reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But first: The new White House press secretary stepped in to the spotlight over the weekend, scolding the press, but was later called to account for his own false statements.

    Lisa Desjardins has the story.

  • SEAN SPICER, White House Press Secretary:

    I believe that we have to be honest with the American people. I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    He was notably less heated in tone, but today White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's message was unchanged: The Trump White House feels the press is unfair.

  • SEAN SPICER:

    Over and over again, there is this attempt to go after this president and say, well, that can't be true and that's not right, and the numbers weren't there, and there's a rush to judgment every time.

    And it's a two-way street. We want to have a healthy and open dialogue with the press corps and with the American people about what he's doing to help this country and to unite it.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Today's briefing follows a tumultuous weekend, starting with President Trump's words about the media Saturday in front of the CIA's Memorial Wall.

  • PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

    They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth.

    (LAUGHTER)

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:

    Right?

    And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. And just want to let you know, there's a reason you're the number one stop. It is exactly the opposite.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    In fact, two weeks ago, the president did tweet about intelligence agencies, asking: "Are we living in Nazi Germany?"

    Today, Press Secretary Spicer said that was about the process, not intelligence workers.

    Also sparking conflict, the size of the crowd at Mr. Trump's inauguration. Many news organizations published side-by-side photos showing the Obama 2009 turnout was larger than this year's.

    That's where White House Spicer picked up Saturday evening.

  • SEAN SPICER:

    This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    Today, Spicer clarified, saying he was including in-person, plus television and online viewers.

  • SEAN SPICER:

    It's unquestionable. I don't — and I don't see any numbers that dispute that.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    On Saturday, Spicer also correctly pointed out that a reporter had wrongly blasted out news that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.

    But the greater question was about how the Trump administration views facts and the free press. Trump aide Kellyanne Conway made headlines when pressed by Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday.

    KELLYANNE CONWAY, Counselor to the President: Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What it — you're saying it's a falsehood, and they're giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that.

  • CHUCK TODD, Meet The Press:

    Look, alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    And on FOX News Sunday, President Trump's chief of staff issued a warning.

  • REINCE PRIEBUS, White House Chief Of Staff:

    I'm saying there's an obsession by the media to delegitimize this president, and we are not going to sit around and let it happen. We're going to fight back tooth and nail every day.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    All this follows a presidential campaign in which Mr. Trump's rhetoric often targeted journalists.

  • DONALD TRUMP:

    The election is being rigged by corrupt media pushing false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect Hillary Clinton president.

    (BOOING)

  • DONALD TRUMP:

    But we are going to stop it.

  • LISA DESJARDINS:

    As it pushes back at the media, the Trump team is also opening up a few new seats. Spicer announced the Briefing Room will have four Skype seats to bring in questions from reporters outside Washington.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I'm Lisa Desjardins.

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