Former White House communications chief Sean Spicer made his debut Monday night on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” and liberal commentators were outraged.
After an introductory video about his stint in the Trump White House, Spicer took the stage in a frilly neon green shirt and tight white pants. He banged out a vigorous bongo solo and then danced the salsa with Season 25 champion Lindsay Arnold. The performance, choreographed to The Spice Girls’ “Spice Up Your Life,” ended with Spicer executing a triumphant knee slide.
The judges offered mixed reviews.
Bruno Tonioli said Spicer looked like he was being “attacked by a swarm of wasps,” but acknowledged it was “strangely entertaining.”
Carrie Ann Inaba said he was off-beat, but clearly “had fun.”
Len Goodman applauded Spicer for joining the cast, saying: “I admire your courage coming on this show.”
Collectively, the judges gave Spicer and Arnold a score of 12 out of 30, which was enough to edge out former NBA star Lamar Odom, who got 11 points.
In the media, anger over Spicer’s appearance on “Dancing With the Stars” had been brewing since his casting was announced last month. Daily Beat culture writer Kevin Fallon called it “shameful” and “pathetic” given that Spicer had “lied directly to the American people.”
Even host Tom Bergeron expressed displeasure with the casting.
The backlash only intensified after President Donald Trump tweeted his support for Spicer, predicting: “He will do great.”
Twitter responds to Sean Spicer on “Dancing With the Stars”
However, liberal indignation seemed to reach new heights after Spicer’s actual appearance on the show’s Season 28 premier.
Daily Beast writer Matt Wilstein called it the “Most Embarrassing ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Debut Ever, Period.”
He also snarkily tweeted a gif of Spicer’s performance, which went viral.
— Matt Wilstein (@mattwilstein) September 17, 2019
Liberal journalist Wajahat Ali was among those who expressed resentment that Spicer reportedly earn at least $125,000 for appearing on the show.
Sean Spicer got paid 6 figures for this. He's also a Harvard Kennedy fellow. He also got a book deal. He was also laughing it up at a DC party for journalists the day before the White House Correspondents Dinner. All will fail up. It's how this town works. https://t.co/ZRgbGe4Cvc
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) September 17, 2019
There was a lot of talk of Spicer allegedly abetting the rise of fascism in America.
I’m all for mocking Sean Spicer. But while you make fun of him, don’t forget he willingly and purposefully aided a fascist regime.
— Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) September 17, 2019
Others said even laughing at Spicer was an act of “normalization.”
I get the instinct to make fun of Sean Spicer for looking ridiculous on DWTS, but that’s the whole reason he’s going on. He’s playing a clown for laughs because he’d rather be seen as a clown than a fascist. It’s his rehab campaign. Don’t help rehab fascists.
— Jamison Foser (@jamisonfoser) September 17, 2019
Jon Cooper, a leader of the anti-Trump #Resistance, hoped that Spicer would break his legs while dancing.
— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) September 17, 2019
When actress and women’s rights activist Jessica Barth urged her fellow liberals to be nice, she was widely condemned. She later said her critics “tweeted me into being a #republican.”
Wow. You guys just tweeted me into being a #republican Thanks for all the ignorance and hate. By all means, continue to berate, bully and insult people who think, look or act differently than you. Seems super evolved and like the right direction to head in life. Go you.
— Jessica Barth (@_jessicabarth_) September 17, 2019
Meanwhile, those conservatives who took note of Spicer’s appearance seemed mildly amused. The Daily Caller’s Logan Hall joked that Spicer was “living his best life.”
sean spicer is out here living his best life pic.twitter.com/r3lJQlSrY1
— Logan Hall (@loganclarkhall) September 17, 2019
The shame game
The liberal reaction to Spicer dancing on TV is part of a larger attempt to stigmatize those who serve in or cooperate with the Trump administration. Similar backlash greeted the release last July of Spicer’s White House memoir, “The Briefing: Politics, the Press, and the President.”
Spicer’s successor as press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who stepped down in June, has faced public harassment, as have a number of other Trump officials and supporters.
Last October, amid a debate over the decline of political civility, Eric Holder, President Barack Obama’s former attorney general, told a crowd in Georgia that the former first lady had been wrong to insist on elevating the national discourse.
“Michelle [Obama] always says, you know, ‘When they go low, we go high,’” Holder said. “No. When they go low, we kick them. That’s what this new Democratic Party is about.”
The same week, Hillary Clinton said during a CNN interview: “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about. That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and/or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again. But until then, the only thing that the Republicans seem to recognize and respect is strength.”