After enduring a parade of humiliations, including having a potential guest on Maury who likes to make autofellatio jokes about his colleagues installed above him, Sean Spicer resigned as press secretary in July (the aforementioned Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci followed 11 days later).
By the time he hung up his ill-fitting suit, Spicer had become a pop-culture phenomenon thanks to Melissa McCarthy’s dazzling, Emmy-winning sendup of him on Saturday Night Live—a parody that reportedly got under President Donald Trump’s skin—“[it was] Spicer’s portrayal by a woman that was most problematic in the president’s eyes.” Given the president’s aversion to the all-female Ghostbusters and his gross history of misogyny, the stance wasn’t all that surprising.
Spicer also lied. Constantly. He lied about Trump’s inauguration size, stating it was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.” He lied in backing Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that there were three million fraudulent votes in the 2016 presidential election. He lied when he defended Trump’s bogus claim that President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower. He refused to answer whether President Trump believed in climate change or not. He once said of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, “You had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” Politifact concluded that Spicer told the truth 9 percent of the time.
Well, “Spicey” is now back in the public eye and on Jimmy Kimmel’s couch.
The Jimmy Kimmel Live! host welcomed Spicer to his late-night program on Wednesday, where the two partook in an incredibly awkward 20-minute interview about Spicer’s fraught tenure as Trump’s White House press secretary.
Right off the bat, Kimmel grilled Spicer on the first lie he told as press secretary: that President Trump had the largest inauguration crowd size in history, despite photographic evidence (of Obama’s inauguration) to the contrary.
“If it was up to you, would this even have been a topic?” asked Kimmel.
“If it was up to me, I probably would have worn a different suit,” said Spicer. “The president wanted to make sure the record got set straight.”
“Why is he so concerned with size? Have you ever seen the president naked?” added Kimmel.
“I have not,” replied a red-faced Spicer.
At times throughout the interview, Spicer appeared to try and distance himself from President Trump, reiterating several times that it was “my job to speak on his behalf” and that Trump would correct him if he felt he’d spoken out of turn or articulated a point poorly. “Whether or not you agree isn’t your job. Your job is to give him advice,” Spicer explained of his post. He also claimed that he had a special alert on his phone for when the president tweeted, and, when asked if the president ever ran a tweet by him before pushing it out, he replied, “Uhhh…I don’t believe…maybe once or twice.”
Kimmel also pressed Spicer on his defense of “alternative facts,” with Spicer once claiming from the White House podium, “I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts.”
“Can we though… disagree with the facts?!” asked an animated Kimmel.
“Well, look, I think the point is that you can look at a set of—an argument or a set of facts—and come out with one opinion, and someone else can say, well, the facts are the same here, I come out with a different conclusion. That’s what makes our country great.”
Spicer also took several shots at the press. When queried on whether he agreed that “the majority” of journalists were just hard-working people trying to seek the truth, Spicer said yes, but then complained about times where journalists often “created a story out of whole cloth that didn’t exist”—without providing any examples of said behavior. (A follow-up would have been nice here, Jimmy.) Spicer also accused the White House press corps of a code of silence, saying, “They need to understand that when they cross the line, when a member of the press corps crosses the line, that they have a responsibility to help pull that in. And I’ve never seen a group of individuals who protect themselves like the press corps does—especially the White House press corps. They’ve never once, during my tenure and at least to my recollection, ever called out someone who has crossed the line on a story.”
This is a particularly egregious statement, and one that appears to describe President Trump more than anyone else. Unlike, say, the police, who refuse to speak ill of their fellow cops—even when they kill an unarmed citizen—the press are very quick to criticize and dismiss colleagues who have committed journalistic wrongdoing as it’s viewed as a stain on the entire profession, especially when the president himself is using the standard authoritarian technique of eroding trust in the fourth estate in order to control the narrative.
Spicer sadly refused to spill any tea concerning The Mooch, offering, “I just didn’t feel as though he had the qualifications or the background to work in the communications office.” He said being parodied by a woman on SNL “may have been a contributing factor” to Trump being particularly annoyed by the portrayal, and he told Kimmel he wouldn’t be writing a tell-all book, calling that a potential “act of betrayal” (without mentioning, of course, that he can’t write a tell-all because Trump had everyone—save Reince Priebus, who reportedly refused—sign NDAs.)
Kimmel, however, refused to press Spicer on the biggest news of the week: how he’d potentially handle Ted Cruz’s porn “like,” and his replacement Sarah Huckabee Sanders calling for the firing of a citizen—ESPN’s Jemele Hill—for criticizing the president. Then again, Kimmel isn’t exactly known as a tough late-night interviewer, which is presumably why he was chosen in the first place.