Last Friday, the President signed an Executive Order temporarily restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries and indefinitely prohibiting refugees from entering the United States. Huffington Post’s article on the Executive Order discussed the battle around terminology taking place in the White House Press Room. On Tuesday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer criticized a reporter for calling the Order a “ban” in his question. However, the reporter pointed out that Trump repeatedly called for a “Muslim ban” throughout his campaign and characterized his Order as a “ban” both on Twitter and in a press conference. Indeed, one day before Tuesday’s briefing, Spicer himself had told George Washington students that “the ban deals with seven countries.” After reporters pointed out these inconsistencies to Spicer, he blamed the media for using the term to make the President’s actions look more extreme. He did not address his or the President’s previous use of the term.
These contradictory statements reveal the complicated aftermath of the Executive Order. On the one hand, Trump wants to take credit for delivering on a major campaign promise and enjoy the soaring popularity ratings from his base of supporters. On the other hand, his Order triggered massive protests and worldwide condemnation, especially after the first ones affected by the ban were two Christian interpreters for the U.S. military in Iraq. Given the rampant inconsistencies noted by the press in yesterday’s conference, the Trump Administration’s attempts to celebrate with supporters and soften the Order’s tone are not working.