Sean Spicer wants you to know that everything at the White House is going GREAT

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump is increasingly frustrated with the inability of his White House to move beyond the story of Russia’s meddling into the 2016 election and possible collusion with his campaign. He is openly considering a staff shuffle among his senior aides. His polling numbers are at record lows for this stage of a presidential tenure.

You wouldn’t know any of that if you tuned into White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s daily press briefing on Tuesday — an optimism-laden, everything-is-awesome romp that ended with Spicer citing a single tweet from a single reporter as evidence that his boss’s long-standing claims about “fake news” are entirely justified.
Spicer started the briefing with an extended “Greatest Hits of the Trump Foreign Trip, Volume 1” riff — detailing how unbelievably successful, at every turn, the trip actually was.
This tweet from the Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson captures the flavor of Spicer’s encomium to Trump’s trip: “Sean Spicer on trip: “Truly an extraordinary week…” “Historic turning point…” “The president’s historic speech…” “A historic event…”
Then Spicer started taking questions.
He began standoffish.
Asked to comment on the reporting that White House adviser Jared Kushner had sought a secret backchannel by which to communicate with the Russians, Spicer offered only this: “I am not going to get into what the president did or didn’t discuss.”
Then Spicer started to veer from established facts.
Of communications director Mike Dubke’s departure and the near-constant waterfall of stories regarding Trump’s unhappiness with his team — with Spicer often coming in for the most direct criticism — the press secretary offered this hard-to-swallow pushback: “The president is very pleased with his team.”
Then came the oddest moments of the very-abbreviated press conference. Spicer, per usual, began to attack the “fake news” for not covering all the good things Trump had done and was doing. CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Spicer to name an example of a news story that was fake.
Spicer’s response? Citing a tweet by a BBC reporter that erroneously reported that the President was not wearing an earpiece to hear the translation of remarks made by Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. (The BBC reporter corrected himself after being told by the White House Trump was wearing a small, not-very-visible earpiece.)
There is, of course, a difference between an honest misreading of a picture or video, which seems to me what the BBC reporter did, and a broad-scale and knowing attempt to create news stories without facts, which is what Trump repeatedly alleges.
When Acosta pressed Spicer for an example that more fit the “fake news” allegation, Spicer insisted he had done so — and then quickly ended the briefing.
It was a remarkable performance that went over like a lead balloon on television as well as — and I am taking an educated guess here — in the room.
It was also the exact sort of performance that Trump, who has made no secret that he watches the press briefings and critiques Spicer’s performances, likely loved. It offered an alternate reality to the one being reported by the mainstream media, attacked them as “fake news” and ended abruptly — on Spicer’s terms.
What Spicer’s briefing on Tuesday reinforced is that he is really only playing to an audience of one at this point. Unlike past press secretaries — in Democratic and Republican administrations — Spicer isn’t trying to walk the tight rope between keeping up credibility and trust with the reporters who cover the White House and making sure he keeps his boss happy. He is only now working to make his boss happy — facts be damned.
That may be good for Spicer’s longevity in the job. (Of course, the President is super-thrilled about his entire staff so none of them have anything to worry about!) But, Spicer’s approach further complicates efforts by the mainstream media to strip away spin and opinion down to just the facts. And those struggles lead to a misinformed (or uninformed) public — which is a bad thing for all of us.
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