Sent out at his boss's bidding to put a preferred presidential spin on crowd numbers at Donald Trump's inauguration, Sean Spicer presented what would become known as "alternative facts".
It was his first news conference as the White House press secretary. His boss was furious, and Spicer was on the attack.
The inauguration crowd was bigger than former president Obama's, he insisted. In fact, despite pictures showing huge empty spaces, it was the biggest crowd in history.
He berated the media for reporting the crowd size was modest.
"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe," he said.
"These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong," Spicer lectured, then left — without taking questions.
It meant the gum-chewing staffer would be, for his entire tenure, mercilessly parodied and lampooned by the likes of Saturday Night Live.
Worse, the move he thought would please Trump enraged him.
'BAD FIRST IMPRESSION'
"I had made a bad first impression, and looking back, that was the beginning of the end," Spicer reveals in a new book, The Briefing: Politics, The Press And The President, according to The Guardian, which has secured excerpts of the book, due out on July 24.
"I went back to my office, expecting an 'attaboy' from the President; instead Reince [Priebus, the White House chief of staff] was waiting for me and said the President wasn't happy at all with how I had performed," Spicer continues.
"He didn't like my not taking questions. He thought I was hung up on the wrong issues. He wanted to know why I hadn't run my statement by him.
"Minutes later, the President himself called, and he was not pleased. And I started to wonder if my first day would be my last."
It wasn't. Spicer managed to hang in, and was endlessly parodied by Trump critics, most memorably at the hands of comedian Melissa McCarthy in SNL skits pillorying the President and his henchmen.
'NO CHOICE BUT TO LAUGH'
Of those cutting SNL skits, Spicer — who even appeared at last year's Emmy Awards joining in the on the joke — writes that he had to see the funny side on being presented frantically chewing gum, lecturing and losing it at journalists, at one point ripping a lectern from the floor, and basically becoming a laughing stock.
"Taking a deep breath, I … saw Melissa McCarthy wearing my suit, downing gum by the bucket (guilty as charged, but never at the lectern), and yelling at the media. I had no choice but to laugh," he writes.
For the most part, Donald Trump, who has publicly endorsed Spicer's book, is celebrated and admired by his former employee. Spicer describes him as "a unicorn, riding a unicorn over a rainbow", and as "mercurial".
"I don't think we will ever again see a candidate like Donald Trump," Spicer writes. "His highwire act is one that few could ever follow.
"His verbal bluntness involves risks that few candidates would dare take. His ability to pivot from a seemingly career-ending moment to a furious assault on his opponents is a talent few politicians can muster."
Of Trump's infamous "Grab 'em by the pussy" tape scandal, Spicer says he was "surprised by how many women who contacted me did not consider Trump's comments a big deal".
"One prominent Republican woman told me, 'You all talk like this; we know it.' (Actually, we men don't all talk like this, but I held my tongue)" he writes.
Spicer lasted for six months as press secretary before he exited the White House, in response to the hiring of one of Trump's most short-lived appointments, Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci.
The hiring of "The Mooch" as communications director prompted Spicer's resignation.
Ironically, Scaramucci was gone before Spicer. He lasted a total of 10 days after he started — gone after a phone call to a journalist in which he swore freely and said he was going to sack all of his subordinates, was made public.
"While alternating currents of outrage and amusement flowed through the White House in the aftermath of Scaramucci's conversation with Lizza, I took great pains not to show any emotion and just keep doing my job," Spicer writes.
"Some people asked me privately if I felt vindicated. I didn't need vindication."