Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer advised new White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday to calm tensions with the press that erupted over the weekend.
“My advice to Sean today is if you used a statistic that is wrong, correct it today. There no harm done if you’re press secretary and saying I got statistics wrong and walk it back,” Fleischer said in an interview on “CBS This Morning.”
Fleischer, who served as President George W. Bush’s press secretary from 2001 to 2003, was referring to the situation late Saturday in which Spicer called the press into the White House briefing room to scold the media about its inauguration coverage, telling them that they were wrong in their comparisons to the crowd size at President Obama’s inaugurations. After making the statement, Spicer left the room, refusing to take any questions.
“Cool the confrontation down a notch or three,” Fleischer said.
Fleischer suspected that President Trump ordered Spicer to chastise the press and said that Spicer is now going to get challenged on it at the press briefing on Monday.
“It concerns me, it’s one thing to take on the press -- that’s a time-honored tradition in Washington, D.C -- [but] take them on though when you have high ground. The part about how people showed up in the audience at the inauguration, who cares, it’s not worth fighting over,” Fleischer said.
His final piece of advice to members of the press was that it doesn’t matter if the president praises them or criticizes them.
“Your job is to be neutral, fair and accurate,” he said.