Stephanopoulos vs. Conway: "Completely Unacceptable" For Media To Call Trump Press Secretary A Liar

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Trump campaign manager and adviser Kellyanne Conway debates ABC's George Stephanopoulos about the role of the press secretary and the media in the new presidential administration. Watch Conway's full interview below:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC: When the president speaks to the CIA and says things that are not true, when his press secretary goes to the podium, repeats things that are not true, is that OK with the president? And isn’t it -- isn’t it our responsibility in the press to call -- to hold them to account? To hold the press secretary to account for saying factual things from the White House podium?

CONWAY: George, are you referring to the crowd size again when you say things that aren’t factual?

STEPHANOPOULOS: What the president said yesterday to the CIA, he said that the press was falsely reporting about a feud. That was based on the president’s statements.

What Trump -- what Sean Spicer said yesterday from the White House podium, he cited wrong facts about metro ridership. He said this was far and away the most viewed inaugural ever. That is simply not true if you look at the Nielsen ratings from 2009 or 1981. If you look at the pictures of the crowd, that is factually not true.

And all we’re saying is --

CONWAY: But we’re talking about the same topic.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We did not bring this up.

CONWAY: We’re talking about the same topic in a week when this president is going to work on replacing Obamacare, which has helped millions of people lose their doctors, their plans, their insurance. He’s going to work on infrastructure, building the wall. He’s going to farm leaders. We’re still talking about crowd size.

And I just want to say, I’m a pollster by trade, so I’m into things that are actually quantifiable. And here’s what’s quant -- here are the numbers that matter. The numbers that matter are the 2,600 counties he won, the 31 of the 50 states. And by the way, the other numbers that matter that I didn’t hear from these women marching around Washington yesterday are the 16.1 million women in poverty, are the millions of people who don’t have healthcare after eight years of President Obama. Donald Trump’s been president for about eight hours; President Obama was here for eight years. So if you want to talk about numbers that matter, it’s quantifying all the losses -- the women who were slid into poverty, those who can’t find meaningful work, and their children who deserve a better life.

That’s why I am here at this White House. I want to talk about things that are quantifiable, not a bunch of metro riders and crowd sizes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, it was the president who brought up crowd size. One final question on this: does the president believe it’s important for his press secretary to be factual from the podium and to take questions from the podium?

CONWAY: Yes, he does. But I want to tell you something else -- it is completely irresponsible, if not worse, for members of the media to be calling our press secretary a liar and worse. On Twitter and Facebook and elsewhere. And in articles. That is not the way to start relationships with the press. I believe in a free and open press; people have to cover the presidency, respect the office and its current occupant. And we -- we need it to be a two-way street.

We have not been treated very well. This man is the President of the United States. If people would just go back, George, and listen to and watch his inaugural address, that goes for everybody -- calling for unification, being aspirational, talking about giving power back to the people.

Look, I know he’s coming to Washington, he’s seen (ph) in a way no one every has, and the institutions and the lethargy and the statism (ph) is many of the -- many of the establishment here is going to be shaken up. And I know people are -- are wondering what will happen there, but we need to have a two-way street here with the press. And I look forward to that, and I appreciate the platform on your network and others and look forward to an open and honest relationship.

But we can't have -- we can't invite a press pool into the first day of the Oval Office with the president of the United States signing executive orders and then a big lie told about the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr., days after our president, Donald Trump, met with Martin Luther King III in New York and had an incredibly powerful and constructive conversation with Martin Luther King, Jr.'s son, saying that he wants to support this president, that he believes he must unify and heal the nation.

And then you have a bunch of -- you have a bunch of people from the press writing these snarky articles that were also false.

It has to go both ways and it has to start right now.


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