Given his ignominious departure from the White House (which had several acts), Sean Spicer could have used his 20-minute sitdown with Jimmy Kimmel last night to redeem himself in some form. Donald Trump’s former press secretary could have made the case for why he should continue to be paid for public speaking when he’s one of the least articulate people to ever address a crowd anywhere. Or he could have gone fully rogue and teased a tell-all book about his brief time as the president’s main facts-obfuscator. Instead, he licked the president’s boots some more while taking a few more swipes at the press.
To his credit, Kimmel didn’t give Spicer much time to get comfortable before diving right into his equally disgraceful debut as Trump’s mouthpiece. The Kimmel Live! host affably grilled Spicer on the dispute over inauguration crowd size; every time Spicer tried to say he never actually lied, Kimmel reminded him of the side-by-side photos that demonstrated the low attendance at Trump’s fete. “Even if you know the crowd wasn’t bigger, as press secretary, you have to go out there and say it was,” Kimmel said. But Spicer, while never acknowledging that what he said in his first WH press conference was bullshit, insisted his job was to “represent the president’s voice,” not agree or disagree with him.
Although he looked decidedly more composed than he ever has before, Spicer was still afflicted with the Trump administration’s allergy to knowledge, telling Kimmel “I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts.” “Can we though?,” the host fired back as Spicer gave an example of how data can lead to different predictions, which again, would be theories, and not facts. And if you were thinking of feeling bad for this ousted schlub, he continued to attack the press as a whole, saying journalists “a lot of times, they were creating a story out of whole cloth that didn’t exist,” while failing to give even one example. And no one’s suggesting the media is infallible, but c’mon, guy, try and cite your sources.
As the interview went on, it looked more and more like Spicer was angling for a job in one of Trump’s businesses. Kimmel pointed out that “the president, what he calls fake news is anything that criticizes him. Then he’ll give validity to wacky news sources some times because they’re complimentary” before asking Spicer point blank if it was dangerous to delegitimize the press. But all Spicer sees is some conspiracy:
I believe that a free press is paramount to a democracy. But it is an awesome responsibility for those members of the press corps to have, and they need to understand that when they cross the line, or when a member of the press corps crosses the line, they have a responsibility to help hold that in. I’ve never seen a group of individuals who protect themselves like the press corps does.
It sounds like Spicey’s just envious of a work environment that doesn’t feel like a game of roulette, depending on whether Paw-Paw has had enough sleep. Which we would sympathize with if he didn’t continue to push Trump’s agenda that the press has been issuing erroneous reports left and right without any corrections or retractions: “They’ve never once ever called out someone who crossed the line on a story. I rarely have seen. They always have an excuse: ‘We were gonna correct it.’ There’s never an admission of guilt.” When Kimmel reacted in disbelief at that, Spicer grudgingly agreed that “Every once in a while, you’ll see a correction.”
Ultimately, the former Easter Bunny believes “the healthier press corps we have, the healthier democracy we have.” Of course, it sounds like his idea of health would involve a lobotomy to inhibit free thinking. Kimmel seemed surprised by Spicer’s song of devotion, reminding him that “you don’t work there anymore. We can protect you here. I got the best security guy in the world.” But Spicer just wanted to sniffle about the so-called “oppression” of conservatives like himself, whining about the GOP being called racist without acknowledging the racist policies that earned that label. And now Spicer waits for Fox News to catch wind of his interview so he can maybe finally score some points with the president. Here’s the full interview, if you can handle the genuflecting.