Sean Spicer Hits a Post-Trump Slump: ‘No One Wants to Play with Sean,’ Insiders Say
No longer in the White House, the ex-press secretary is struggling with the stain of his tenure.
Two months after he exited the Trump White House, former press secretary Sean Spicer is still struggling to land a steady TV gig, a lucrative book deal, Hollywood jobs, or even a reality-TV show, sources with knowledge of the process tell The Daily Beast.
“No one wants to play with Sean,” one network insider bluntly noted.
On Tuesday, NBC News reported that the big TV news networks, including CNN, Fox News, CBS News, ABC News, and NBC, have given a hard pass on offering Spicer a job as an exclusive on-air paid contributor. Executives have cited his “credibility” issues stemming from his bold mangling of the truth in service of President Donald Trump, which Spicer has himself expressed some belated regret over.
Not even One America News Network, a JV Fox News that hired and then fired former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, wants to hire Spicer. “We have talked to him [since he left the Trump administration], but right now we have no interest,” Robert Herring, the channel’s chief executive, told The Daily Beast on Wednesday.
It is not clear if Spicer would even strongly consider a position at One America. But when asked why the channel had no interest, Herring said OANN is simply going in a different direction with its coverage.
“We’re trying to beef up in other areas,” Herring said, adding that Spicer made clear that he “has other options” when OANN talked to him.
Still, those options are proving far fewer than Spicer had likely anticipated.
Multiple sources at the major TV networks confirmed to The Daily Beast this week that many of the network brass who have met recently with Spicer were turned off for several reasons.
Network bigwigs didn’t see him as a sympathetic character, and got the strong impression that they would be paying him to uncritically spout Team Trump talking points, two insiders at different networks recounted. There was no indication that Spicer was trying to “seek forgiveness,” according to one source. And in discussions, he didn’t leave the impression that he would be candid about his and Trump’s blunders.
“If it’s just spouting about why Trump is so great, and about MAGA [then] what’s the point?” the other source said. Network employees spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss private deliberations.
Some executives were also not enthused about Spicer and the Trump administration’s “degrading” treatment of TV journalists and worried that they’d be rewarding “abuse of” a free press by hiring him, as another network-news source characterized it.
Other former Trump aides have, of course, gotten gigs with networks. But those didn’t work to Spicer’s advantage. Two TV insiders told The Daily Beast that CNN’s past decision to hire Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was instructive in what not to do.
Lewandowski was snapped up by CNN after he was ousted from the Trump campaign after bruising a female political reporter and lying about it. Lewandowski demonstrated no actual loyalty to the network, and repeatedly embarrassed execs and the news teams at CNN, sources said. The decision to hire Lewandowski and give him a platform to air Trump propaganda and conspiracy theories was, and continues to be, a source of criticism and chagrin for the major network, especially after he quickly departed from the network once Trump was elected.
In addition to a TV gig, Spicer has also attempted to land a book deal in the range of seven figures, according to sources. But those opportunities look similarly slim.
“If he did a [book] like Scott McClellan about the Bush years, he would get a hell of a lot of money,” one person familiar with the process said, referencing the highly explosive tell-all from 2008. “Sean doesn’t want to do that.”
But Spicer is not entirely without his post-White House prospects. After leaving the administration, he quickly signed with the Worldwide Speakers Group, which booked him for a Sept. 11 speech at a New York investment bank’s annual conference. Spicer also landed a gig at Harvard. The university’s Kennedy School of Government hired him as a lecturer in its Institute of Politics, where he joins Lewandowski and other big names in contemporary politics.
Opportunities in pop culture have sprouted up as well. During his White House tenure, Spicer reportedly turned down an offer to appear on the hit show Dancing With the Stars, which once hosted his former administration colleague, Energy Secretary Rick Perry. On Sunday, Spicer made a guest appearance on-stage at the Emmy Awards, reportedly at the request of the awards ceremony’s host, late-night talker Stephen Colbert.
It was a big night for Spicer. He had told The Daily Beast earlier in the week that during his night partying with the Hollywood elite, only “a total of three” people voiced their “displeasure” at him throughout the evening, and one of them was “from afar.” Indeed, several smiling A-listers snapped photos with Spicer and appeared excited to meet him.
That’s because since the earliest days of the Trump presidency, Spicer had become arguably the most famous White House press secretary in recent American history. Saturday Night Live significantly grew his national profile with a much-publicized and acclaimed impression by comedian Melissa McCarthy. His White House press briefings became cable-news ratings gold, to the point where President Trump himself was privately commenting on Spicer’s mid-day viewership. Spicer even became a fascination of celebrity tabloids earlier this year, with paparazzi staking out his home for a glimpse and a camera shot.
But Spicer and his team have found it difficult to parlay that pop-cultural fame into longer-term professional benefits. They are pursuing less conventional avenues for his post-Trump career, such as reality television (Trump’s one-time stomping ground), Hollywood, and potential movie or TV consulting gigs, given his political experience, according to those close to Spicer.
Spicer did not respond to a request for comment on this story on Wednesday afternoon. But asked by The Daily Beast on Monday what other Hollywood-type or entertainment plans he has horizon, he wrote back: “People’s Choice [Awards], Grammys, monster truck show.”
The Daily Beast responded that we honest-to-god didn’t know if he was pulling our leg.
“I am,” he said, before declining to go into specifics of what other potential opportunities he’s eyeing.