ABC’s Jon Karl Tangles with WH’s Sean Spicer, Demands Spicer Adhere to Oath of Truth

After calling on some reporters not from establishment media, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer finally called on network reporters in his Monday press briefing, including a tense square-off with ABC’s Jonathan Karl over whether he needs to “pledge never to knowingly say something that is not factual.”

When Spicer called on him, Karl admitted: “...[b]efore I get to a policy question, just a question about the nature of your job.”

Spicer agreed and Karl lobbed this jab at the podium: “Is it your intention to always tell the truth from that podium? And will you pledge never to knowingly say something that is not factual?”

In part, Spicer responded: 

It is. It's an honor to do this and, yes, I believe that we have to be honest with the American people. I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts. There are certain things that we may — we may not fully understand when we come out but our intention is never the lie to you, Jonathan. Our job is to make sure that — sometimes, you are in the same boat. There are times when you tweet something out or write a story and you publish a correction.

Karl was hinting at Spicer’s press statement on Saturday regarding the inauguration crowd when this tense exchange followed:

<<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>

 

KARL: Do you have any corrections that you would like to make or clarifications on what you said from Saturday. 

SPICER: Sure. I mean — ask away, Jonathan?

KARL: Well, you know, for instance, I don't want the relitigate the issue, but just take one issue of metro ridership. You made a statement about metro ridership. 

SPICER: At the time the information that I was provided by the inaugural committee came from an outside agency that we reported on and I think knowing when we know now we can tell that remaatta's numbers were different but we were providing numbers we had been provided. It wasn't like we made them up out of thin air. 

KARL: Do you stand by your position it was the most watched inaugural address in history? 

Spicer argued that Friday’s inauguration was the “most-watched” ever upon taking into account the millions watching on television but also through streaming on mobile and desktop devicea.

ABC’s chief White House correspondent continued to bait Spicer into an endless debate about crowd sizes until he wondered if, in effect, Spicer was proud of how he blasted the reporters on Saturday: “And the approach that you took on Saturday, any second thoughts on that?”

Taking the example of Time’s Zeke Miller pushing false information about the make-up of the new Oval Office, Spicer fired back:

Look, Jonathan, look — I came out to read a statement and I did it. We're here today. I'm going to stay as long as you want. So I want to make sure that — I think you guys might want to leave before I do. But, look, I want to make sure that we have a healthy relationship. We saw the other day that — and I'm not trying to rehash history but you’re asking the question so I'm going to answer it. We had a tweet go out about Martin Luther King. Think about how racially charged that is and someone rushes out and says to the entire press corps that the President of the United States has removed the bust from his office. Do you — I mean, think about what this signal — hold on. 

Before moving on, Karl took one last swing: “Sean, did the media invent the feud between the president and the intelligence community?”

“Look, I think that — look, you saw from the response the other day, he walked into the CIA, people were hooting and hollering, gave him a standing owe vague. That doesn't look like a relationship that’s, I mean, that’s — they were excited,” Spicer explained.

This all being said, Karl repeatedly asked tough questions of Spicer predecessor Josh Earnest from the Obama administration (like this exchange here). 

However, they almost never saw the light of day on the following installments of ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir and Good Morning America. Knowing the way the media has behaved in the first few days of the Trump administration, such moments will magically begin reappearing on network newscasts.

Here’s the relevant portions of the transcript from the White House Daily Press Briefing on January 23:

White House Daily Press Briefing
January 23, 2017
2:08 p.m. Eastern

JONATHAN KARL: Before I get to a policy question, just a question about the nature of your job. 

SEAN SPICER: Yeah. 

KARL: Is it your intention to always tell the truth from that podium? And will you pledge never to knowingly say something that is not factual? 

SPICER: It is. It's an honor to do this and, yes, I believe that we have to be honest with the American people. I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts. There are certain things that we may — we may not fully understand when we come out but our intention is never the lie to you, Jonathan. Our job is to make sure that — sometimes, you are in the same boat. There are times when you tweet something out or write a story and you publish a correction. That doesn't mean that you were intentionally trying the deceive readers or the American people, does it? And I think we should be afforded the same opportunity. There are times when we believe something to be true or we get something from an agency or we act in haste because the information available wasn't complete but our desire to communicate with the American people and make sure that you have the most complete story at the time. So we do it. Again, I think when you look net/net, we are going do our best every time we can. I'm going to come out here and tell you the facts as I know them and if we make a mistake we'll do our best to correct it. As I mentioned the other day, it is a two-way street. There are many mistakes that the media make all the time. They misreport something, they don't report something, they get a fact wrong. I don't think that's always to turn around and say okay you were intentionally lying. I think we all go try to do our best job and do it with a degree of integrity rit within our agencies. 

KARL: Do you have any corrections that you would like to make or clarifications on what you said from Saturday. 

SPICER: Sure. I mean — ask away, Jonathan?

KARL: Well, you know, for instance, I don't want the relitigate the issue, but just take one issue of metro ridership. You made a statement about metro ridership. 

SPICER: At the time the information that I was provided by the inaugural committee came from an outside agency that we reported on and I think knowing when we know now we can tell that WMATA's numbers were different but we were providing numbers we had been provided. It wasn't like we made them up out of thin air. 

KARL: Do you stand by your position it was the most watched inaugural address in history? 

SPICER: Sure. It was the most watched inaugural. When you look at just one network alone got 16.9 people online. Another couple of the networks — there were tens of millions watched it on line. Never mind the audience that was here. 31 million people watched it on television. Combine that with the tens of millions of people that watched it online, on a device. There’s — it's unquestionable and I don't see any numbers that dispute that. When you add up attendance, viewership, total audience in terms of tablets, phones, on television, I'd love to see any information that proves that otherwise. 

KARL: And then —

SPICER: Do you dispute that? 

KARL: Well, I don't want to get into numbers. 

SPICER: Well, I do. I mean —

KARL: Okay. 

SPICER: — I'm just asking saying if you are asking me a question about my integrity, I have a right to say if you add up all of the various live stream numbers, Facebook, YouTube, all of the various livestreamings that we have information on so far I don't think there is any question it was a largest watched inauguration ever. 

KARL: More than Ronald Reagan’s in 1981? 

SPICER: I'm pretty sure that Reagan didn't have you tube, Facebook or the enter net. Yeah, I think 41 million people watched his. 41 million watched his. So, let's take the Nielsen ratings, 31 million and add it to CNN, 16.9 million. That's a little higher. So I'm just saying — you are asking me for numbers. There is just two entities together. 

KARL: And the approach that you took on Saturday, any second thoughts on that?

SPICER: Look, Jonathan, look — I came out to read a statement and I did it. We're here today. I'm going to stay as long as you want. So I want to make sure that — I think you guys might want to leave before I do. But, look, I want to make sure that we have a healthy relationship. We saw the other day that — and I'm not trying to rehash history but you’re asking the question so I'm going to answer it. We had a tweet go out about Martin Luther King. Think about how racially charged that is and someone rushes out and says to the entire press corps that the President of the United States has removed the bust from his office. Do you — I mean, think about what this signal — hold on. 

KARL: But he issued a correction and he apologized. 

SPICER: No, no, he actually apprised to quote “my colleagues.” That's the exact quote. Okay? That quote, that report got tweeted out around and to report — where was the apology to the President of the United States. Where was the apology to millions of people who read that and thought how racially insensitive it was. 

KARL: Do you accept it as an apology, though, Sean?

(....)

KARL: Sean, did the media invent the feud between the president and the intelligence community? 

SPICER: Look, I think that — look, you saw from the response the other day, he walked into the CIA, people were hooting and hollering, gave him a standing owe vague. That doesn't look like a relationship that’s, I mean, that’s — they were excited. 

[INAUDIBLE COMMENT FROM KARL]


Please support NewsBusters today! [a 501(c)(3) non-profit production of the Media Research Center]

DONATE

Or, book travel through MRC’s Travel Discounts Program! MRC receives a rebate for each booking when you use our special codes.

BOOK NOW

NBDaily Media Bias Debate Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats ABC Video Jonathan Karl Donald Trump Sean Spicer
Curtis Houck's picture


Sponsored Links