NEW YORK — “That’s what you guys should be writing and covering,” new White House press secretary Sean Spicer lectured reporters on Saturday in an angry statement that represented his first remarks from the podium of the press briefing room.
He was referring to the delay in Senate confirmation for President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the CIA, Congressman Mike Pompeo, but the comment came after a long digression about how many people had shown up to watch Trump be sworn in as president.
Friday’s ceremony had the largest inauguration crowd ever, “period,” Spicer said, contradicting all available data.
He also expressed objections to specific Twitter posts from journalists on Friday.
And he said “we’re going to hold the press accountable,” partly by bypassing major news outlets and going directly to the public through social networking sites.
Spicer, at times almost yelling while reading a prepared statement, took no questions.
Some longtime White House correspondents were stunned by the tirade.
Glenn Thrush of The New York Times wrote on Twitter, “Jaw meet floor.”
Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post said Spicer’s assertion about “what you guys should be writing” was “chilling.”
Ari Fleischer, who had the same job as Spicer during the George W. Bush administration, tweeted, “This is called a statement you’re told to make by the President. And you know the President is watching.”
And Brian Fallon, who was in line to become press secretary if Hillary Clinton had won, wrote, “Sean Spicer lacks the guts or integrity to refuse orders to go out and lie. He is a failure in this job on his first full day.”
“I’ve run out of adjectives,” wrote Chuck Todd, the moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”