President Donald Trump's spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday that it has been "frustrating" and "demoralizing" for Trump and his team to constantly deal with a negative media narrative that either predicts failure for him or questions his accomplishments.
"The narrative, the default narrative is always negative, and it's demoralizing," Spicer said at his first official White House news conference, two days after igniting a battle with the media over the purported size of Trump's inauguration audience.
"There's this constant theme to undercut the enormous support that he has."
"I think it's just unbelievably frustrating when you're continually told, 'It's not big enough, it's not good enough ... you can't win,' " Spicer said.
"He's gone out there and defied the odds over and over and over again, and he keeps getting told what he can't do by this narrative that's out there and he exceeds every single time," Spicer said, citing Trump's electoral success after being dismissed by pundits as a long-shot candidate at best when he entered the presidential race in 2015.
Spicer also said "there's a constant attempt to undermine his credibility and the movement that he represents."
"And it's frustrating for not just him, but I think for so many of us that are trying to work to get this message out."
Spicer's remarks came on what is only the fourth day of the Trump administration, and less than 48 hours after the press secretary sparked a fight with the media by accusing several outlets of intentionally misrepresenting the size of the audience that watched Trump's inauguration.
Spicer had said Saturday that it was the largest audience ever to watch a presidential inauguration, a claim that was met with widespread derision given aerial photos that showed a relatively small crowd on the National Mall, in contrast to the throngs of people who crowded that area in front of the Capitol for President Barack Obama's swearing-in in 2009.
Spicer said Monday that he was not claiming there were more people in attendance on the Mall. Instead, the spokesman said that the cumulative audience — in-person and watching online or on television — had set a record.
Spicer's series of complaints about the media narrative surrounding Trump came in response to a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta.
Trump earlier this month, at a New York news conference, pointedly and repeatedly refused to call on Acosta while accusing CNN of publishing "fake news" about him.
Acosta asked Spicer why Trump made "crowd size an issue" when the president spoke to CIA officers on Saturday and why Spicer addressed it when he spoke to the press later that day.
"I will tell you it's not just about crowd size," Spicer said. "It's about this constant, you know, 'He's not going to run,' If he runs he's going to drop out,' 'If he runs he can't win.' 'No way he can win Pennsylvania.'"
Spicer also cited news stories that had said Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., was boycotting his first inauguration ever by skipping Trump's, and another report that said a bust of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office after Trump entered the White House.
In both cases, those reports were incorrect, but Lewis admitted he had been mistaken, and the reporter also quickly corrected his error and apologized.