Photo/Image: Al Teich
August 14, 2018 | By Wesley G. Pippert | PippertW@missouri.edu
Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, conceding little in his criticism of the news media, told journalists that journalists need to look at themselves as critically as they look at the Trump administration.
Spicer spoke at a National Press Club Headliners Book Event about his new book, “Briefing: Politics, the Press Corps and the President.”
He rejected his former boss’s characterization of the press as the “enemy of the people.”
He said he doesn’t like it when any group is characterized, “but it goes both ways.”
Spicer claimed 80 to 90 percent of the coverage of Trump administration is negative. “That should give news organizations pause,” and to ask, “Are we doing our job?” he said.
A study by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy of selected news outlets said the tone of Trump’s coverage was 80 percent negative.
Spicer said he never lied when working for the president, Spicer said.
“If I said the president said the following today and I’ll tell you why he’s totally wrong, you’re not going to last very long, about eight seconds.” Instead, Spicer said he would say, “The president said he believes the following.” Spicer said the press secretary’s job is not to be an interpreter or fact-checker. “That’s the press’ job,” he said.
Spicer said he was concerned about safety of journalists but also “the safety of others.”
“Wear a Donald Trump shirt on the Metro, see how long you last,” Spicer said. He referred to situations both he and current press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have encountered. “If you walk down the street with a Donald Trump or Republican T-shirt, you get mocked, yelled at — where’s the concern for that? I don’t feel the press has the same concern about others as they have about themselves.”
Spicer said he thought former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman’s taping of the president was “reprehensible.” And laughing, he said he hadn’t taped his own conversations with Trump.
Asked how often he still speaks with Trump, Spicer said,: “Whenever he wants to” and they talk about “whatever he wants.”