New White House press secretary Sean Spicer eased off his confrontational approach with reporters at his first official press briefing Monday, following a weekend in which he berated reporters and then took all kinds of flak for his "alternative facts." Questioned about his honesty Monday, he responded, "Our intention is never to lie to you," adding, "I'm going to come out here and tell you the facts as I know them, and if we make a mistake, I'll do our best to correct it," per the Washington Post. On that front, Spicer acknowledged that he gave inaccurate figures Saturday about Metro ridership on inauguration day, saying they'd been passed along by an "outside agency." But he continued to insist that the inauguration was watched by the most people in history, if you count TV, internet, and those there in person, reports Politico.
“And I don’t see any numbers that dispute that,” he said. (Over the weekend, he asserted that Trump had the largest attendance "both in person and around the globe," with the "in person" part quickly rebutted by crowd estimate experts.) Spicer also pushed back against what he described as relentlessly negative coverage about President Trump, going back to the campaign. "It's demoralizing," he said in a plea for fairer coverage. Still, he opened the press conference with a joke seemingly to defuse the tension, saying that he'd told predecessor Josh Earnest that he won't be overtaking him as the most popular press secretary anytime soon. At the New York Times, Glenn Thrush offers this takeaway after the 90-minute presser: "On Saturday, Spicer’s attitude signaled that it would be impossible for the press to cover the White House. Those fears were allayed somewhat today."