Donald Trump's presidential counsellor Kellyanne Conway says Sean Spicer gave ‘alternative facts’ at first press briefing

When questioned on why Mr Spicer provided a ‘falsehood’ about crowd size at the Inauguration, Ms Conway responded that the press were being ‘overly dramatic'

Rachael Revesz
New York
Sunday 22 January 2017 16:47 GMT
Kellyanne Conway argues with Chuck Todd over 'alternative facts'

Donald Trump's team came in for widespread ridicule after one of the President's key advisers said controversial comments by the White House press secretary were not lies, but "alternative facts".

During a slew of Sunday morning television shows, President Trump’s team were determined to defend new press secretary Sean Spicer's attack on the media and its accurate reporting of Inauguration crowd sizes.

Speaking to Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press, Mr Trump’s senior aide, Kellyanne Conway, was asked to explain why Mr Spicer "uttered a falsehood" about Mr Trump having the "largest crowd in Inauguration history".

"Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. You’re saying it’s a falsehood [...] Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that," she responded.

"Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods," said Mr Todd.

She insisted that there was "no way to qualify the crowd size" - an estimated 800,000 people attended Mr Trump’s ceremony, significantly less than President Obama’s ceremonies in 2009 and in 2013 - and she then berated Mr Todd for laughing.

Ms Conway zeroed in on Mr Todd’s use of the word "ridiculous" to describe Mr Spicer’s focus on crowd size at his first press briefing.

"It’s symbolic of the way we are treated by the press," she replied, adding her administration might have to "rethink their relationship" with the media.

She said that the Presidency would be about healthcare, the economy and schools, but she appeared to deflect questions about why her boss and Mr Spicer did not focus on the same issues when speaking to reporters, the CIA or the public in general.

Mr Spicer gave his first White House press conference on Saturday, speaking for five minutes about crowd size at the Inauguration and calling the media "deliberately dishonest". He walked out without taking a single question.

Mr Trump then visited the CIA to speak to around 400 employees about their service to the country and in front of their memorial wall.

He spent most of his speech, however, discrediting the press for accurately reporting crowd size at his ceremony.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer threatens media, vowing to 'hold to account' 'dishonest' reporting

Mr Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, told Fox News on Sunday that the media were trying to “delegtimise” the Presidency and the government would "fight back tooth and nail".

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