White House press secretary Sean Spicer reopened his propaganda playbook on Tuesday, telling reporters that President Donald Trump's executive order blocking entry to the U.S. for refugees, visitors, and green card holders from majority-Muslim countries was "not a travel ban."
"It's not a Muslim ban. It's not a travel ban," Spicer told reporters in a heated, Orwellian exchange. "It's a vetting system to keep America safe."
The order, signed last Friday, blocks Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. indefinitely and puts a temporary hold on travelers from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan.
Its immediate implementation saw dozens of individuals being detained at airports across the country over the weekend, prompting widespread, ongoing protests and legal actions that secured an 11th-hour victory for civil liberties lawyers when federal judges in four states temporarily blocked parts or all of the order.
Spicer's comments on Tuesday prompted a flurry of questions from journalists, who pointed to Trump's own tweets referring to the order as a ban. Spicer blamed that on the press, claiming that the president had only used the term to reference the media's adopted frame.
"He's using the words that the media is using," Spicer said, as another reporter shouted back, "It's his words!"
NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker said, "The president himself called it a ban."
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Spicer replied, "I understand."
"Is he confused," Welker continued, "or are you confused?"
"No, I'm not confused," Spicer insisted. "I think that the words being used to describe it are derived from what the media is calling this. ... [Trump] has been very clear that it is extreme vetting."
"You have been part of the confusion," he said to the press pool.
Trump has called the order a ban on more than one occasion, including on Saturday, when he defended the policy at a photo op in the Oval Office by saying, "We're going to have a very, very strict ban and we're going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years."
Spicer's comments echoed those of Trump's chief strategist and national security adviser Steve Bannon, who earlier this month called the media "the opposition party," and the president himself, who made similar remarks in a later interview.