Wednesday morning on Good Morning America, Sean Spicer tried to show off his fun side. As part of an unveiling of the cast of the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars, the former White House press secretary stood in front of a podium as a joke, and later told an anecdote about getting kicked out of middle school band for having no rhythm. How adorable! His castmates and the GMA hosts chuckled, and they moved on to talking to Queer Eye's Karamo Brown.
Spicer stands out in the DWTS lineup of people who got famous (or at least semi-famous) for being actors, athletes, or reality TV stars. Spicer, by contrast, is famous for lying to the press and public and being an incompetent professional liar; his tenure ended after just six months. This is the man who referred to concentration camps as "Holocaust centers," and who compared Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to Adolf Hitler with the qualifier that even Hitler "didn't even sink to using chemical weapons." (Nazis used poison gas as a weapon beginning in 1939 for mass murder, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.) When asked to clarify the comment, Spicer only dug himself into a deeper and frankly more offensive hole, saying Hitler didn’t gas his own people. (He did.)
For being the public face of a cruel and inept presidential administration, Spicer has reaped ample rewards. He got paid to write a lousy book, scored a fancy fellowship at Harvard, and appeared onstage at the 2017 Emmys, where liberal Hollywood celebs were happy to party with him. All of these moves stirred up backlash, but that hasn't stopped the entertainment industry from treating him as just another star to be danced with.
Re-framing dangerously incompetent political figures as "fun," as ABC did in its casting of Spicer on DWTS, is careless and deeply troubling. In the gig that made him famous, Spicer proved himself utterly conscience-free, repeating his boss's most outrageous lies, including the democracy-undermining claim that there were millions of fraudulent votes in the 2016 election and the idea that the Obama administration wiretapped Donald Trump. He carried water for a president who has made consistently racist remarks and has been publicly accused of sexual assault by over a dozen women.
Teaching him to tango glosses over all of that.
Even DWTS host Tom Bergeron doesn’t seem to like the idea. On GMA he joked that, "Sean will be in charge of assessing audience size," a not-so-veiled reference to Spicer’s false claims about the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration. Without mentioning Spicer by name, Bergeron posted on Twitter that he did not agree with the producers’ casting choices, wanting the show to be free from "divisive bookings."
Bergeron is right to feel queasy about this. We can’t give Spicer a pass, which is what this latest stop on his never-ending redemption tour amounts to. This is partially how Trump got elected in the first place: We didn’t take a dangerously incompetent reality star seriously. Already the #boycottDWTS hashtag is growing on Twitter. Hopefully, ABC listens.
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