Spicer's presser reminded a lot of the early days of the Iraq war when Hussein's information minister was on TV saying that the Republican Guard was on the verge of victory, as CNN was showing US troops on the outskirts of Baghdad marching toward the city center. It was a lie of such ridiculous proportions that you got the sense watching it that truth or untruth wasn't really the point of the press conference.
Similarly, Trump's claim about the inauguration was so farcical that you got the sense that the administration was really trying to cultivate a relationship with the truth. There may have been a component of Trump testing Spicer's loyalty, but I think that was secondary to intentionally picking a fight with "the media" writ large. A strongman, a man trying to build a personality cult, needs a foil. Usually it's easy, because America is the default foil for strongmen the world over. Trump is in the position of being in the belly of the beast, so his foil has to be some other subversive element. The media is a good one, because (a) they write bad things about him that just happen to be "true", and (b) his constituency is already distrustful of them. In that sense they're perfect. And how did the administration react? They threatened to cut off access to reporters who questions them.
That's diabolically brilliant. When they announced that they might move the press corps form the West Wing, everyone shit a brick. They realized they couldn't do it without cause. So they went out and sewed the seeds. Spicer cam out a day later and was clear-eyed and friendly. Do we not also think that was calculated? Of course it was. Now he can say he's been trying to be the good guy, but you reporters just won't quit. Give it two more weeks. They'll come up with another whopper to top this one. And if you think Chuck Todd was mean to Conway about lying about inauguration attendance, just wait until they lie about something that matters. Real reporters will flip out, and it will be the perfect time to cut them out of the deal.