White House press secretary Sean Spicer tangled with reporters Tuesday over a possible shakeup in the West Wing communications team and lamented the coverage of President Trump’s first foreign trip.
In the first on-camera press briefing since the president returned from a weeklong trip to the Middle East and Europe that garnered mixed diplomatic results, Spicer was asked if Trump was satisfied with the work of his communications team. The White House announced earlier in the day Tuesday that communications director Michael Dubke had resigned.
“I think he’s very pleased with the work of his staff,” Spicer began. “I think he is frustrated, like I am and like so many others, to see stories come out that are patently false, to see narratives that are wrong, to see quote, unquote ‘fake news.’ When you see stories get perpetrated that are absolutely false, that are not based in fact, that is troubling, and he’s rightly concerned.”
Pressed to provide an example, Spicer cited a tweet posted by a BBC reporter during the G7 summit. The tweet included video of a speech by the Italian prime minister in which Trump appears not to be wearing headphones to hear an English translation. Spicer said he wears a slimmer earpiece only in one ear that was obscured by the camera angle.
— Sean Spicer (@PressSec) May 27, 2017
Trump himself also berated the media after completing his overseas trip, releasing a torrent of tweets Sunday excoriating the media, urging followers not to trust stories citing anonymous sources. He may have been venting his frustration over reports that his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner sought to establish back-channel communications between the transition team and the Kremlin.
“There’s a lot of this stuff that has gotten pushed out based on unnamed, unaccountable sources, that is very troubling, and I think when you see the same kind of thing happen over and over again, it is concerning,” Spicer said Tuesday.
“What I’m telling you is that the reason that the president is frustrated is because there’s a perpetuation of false narratives, a use of unnamed sources, over and over again about things that are happening that don’t ultimately happen, and I think that’s troubling.”
Despite the condemnation of anonymous sources, Trump’s White House frequently puts out its own information anonymously or attributed to senior officials.
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