(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Sean Spicer's greatest hits: Remembering the departing White House press secretary's best moments

Sean Spicer's tenure as press secretary comes to an end, and a lot of people will be sad to see him go


Jeremy Binckes
July 21, 2017 7:54PM (UTC)

As outgoing White House press secretary Sean Spicer prepares to ride off into the sunset of his six-month tenure, it's worth taking a look at what Spicer has meant to the political zeitgeist.

It wouldn't be a surprise, in retrospect, to figure out what would happen over the next six months when, on the first full day on the job, Spicer walked up to the White House podium, and flat-out lied, saying that President Donald Trump's inauguration featured "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe." Spicer said images showing that Trump's crowd was smaller than President Barack Obama's were "intentionally framed in a way — in one particular tweet — to minimize the enormous support that had gathered on the national mall."

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The explanation was widely ridiculed, and Sean Spicer's job began as a punchline.

The punchline turned into a Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Melissa McCarthy as the embattled press secretary.

That portrayal reportedly rubbed Trump the wrong way, because Spicer was being played by a woman.

Over the course of Spicer's tenure, he often proved that he couldn't be treated as a reliable source of information. In March, he told the press that reporters should "trust" Trump "if he's not joking." It took Spicer months to say that Trump's tweets were "official statements" while those same tweets undermined statements from the press office.

A month later, Spicer gave an eyebrow-raising statement about how Syrian leader Bashar Assad compared to Adolph Hitler.

“You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer said. “He was not using the gas on his own people in the same way that Assad is doing.” When someone brought up that Hitler did use gas chemical weapons to kill his own people, Spicer tried to justify his distinction, referring to the confusing phrase "Holocaust center."

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Spicer's statement may be remembered less than the bemused reaction from reporters as he spoke.

Spicer should also be remembered as a man who, when faced with conflict — for example, after FBI Director James Comey was fired — took on the media by trying to talk to them while hiding "among the bushes." Per the Washington Post:

After Spicer spent several minutes hidden in the darkness and among the bushes near these sets, Janet Montesi, an executive assistant in the press office, emerged and told reporters that Spicer would answer some questions, as long as he was not filmed doing so. Spicer then emerged.

“Just turn the lights off. Turn the lights off,” he ordered. “We'll take care of this. ... Can you just turn that light off?”

Spicer got his wish and was soon standing in near darkness between two tall hedges, with more than a dozen reporters closely gathered around him. For 10 minutes, he responded to a flurry of questions, vacillating between light-hearted asides and clear frustration with getting the same questions over and over again.

But the low point for Spicer arguably came in May, when, during Trump's visit to the Vatican, Spicer — a practicing Catholic — was snubbed from meeting Pope Francis, whom he "was eagerly anticipating" meeting. While Spicer was barred from the meeting, Trump's close friends and family — Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner (both practicing Jews), along with social media director Dan Scavino and longtime aide Hope Hicks — were allowed in.

After six months on the job and a litany of embarrassing moments, Spicer may be remembered most for his lack of composure in front of reporters.

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He probably won't be missed.


Jeremy Binckes

Jeremy Binckes is the senior news editor at Salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Anthony Scaramucci Donald Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer Sean Spicer

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