At his first official press briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer criticized the apology of a reporter who had apparently made a mistake reporting that the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office at the direction of President Trump.
“We had a tweet go out about Martin Luther King,” Spicer said. “Think about how racially charged that is.”
On Friday, Time magazine’s Zeke Miller initially reported the bust of King was missing from the Oval Office on Twitter but sent out a correction minutes later, explaining the bust had apparently been obscured by a Secret Service agent. Trump had added the bust of Winston Churchill to the room.
Miller then apologized to both his colleagues and directly to Spicer, who wrote on Twitter that he had accepted it.
Tweeting again: wh aide confirms the MLK bust is still there. I looked for it in the oval 2x & didn't see it. My apologies to my colleagues
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) January 21, 2017
But during Monday’s press briefing, Spicer suggested that the apology wasn’t enough.
“Where was the apology to the president of the United States?” Spicer asked without referring to Miller by name. “Where was the apology to millions of people who read that and thought how racially insensitive it was? Where was that apology?”
Miller, who was in the briefing at the time, did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
Spicer himself refused to apologize for falsely asserting on Saturday that Trump drew the biggest ever in-person audience for a presidential inauguration. Instead, he insisted that the boast had grouped together both the in-person and worldwide viewers.
“I don’t see any numbers to dispute that,” Spicer said. “I’d love to see any information that proves that otherwise.”
“We have a right to go out and correct the record,” he added.
Trump also called out Miller publicly during a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters on Saturday. Spicer then raised the issue later in the day shortly before making the false claim about Trump’s crowd size.
The retraction was included in a White House pool report about Trump’s first few hours in the Oval Office.
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