Tuesday, July 31, 2018
The Trouble with Sean Spicer
It was great to see someone make Sean Spicer squirm. He's been out promoting his new book and trying to drum up support for a talk show. He's received a friendly audience for the most part, but not Emily Maitlis. She let him have it in a BBC interview.
Spicer benefited to some degree from Melissa McCarthy's hilarious portrayal on SNL. People loved him if nothing more than for this caricature. He even used it in a cameo appearance on the Emmy Awards show, which Maitlis referenced. She noted that this led to an acceptance of his toxic mix of fact and fiction that she didn't feel he deserved.
Yet, Sean keeps making the rounds, even when he gets confronted at a book signing in Middleton, Massachusetts. Book reviews haven't been very good either.
So how did this guy go from being the Easter Bunny during George W. Bush's administration to press secretary under Trump to urban folk anti-hero following his abrupt resignation? The guy was never more than a joke. He handled his press conferences as bad as a press secretary could possibly do so. Even Trump was able to see this, increasingly relying on Sarah Huckabee Sanders to convey his message. Not that she has had a very easy time of it either. Yet, there is something so Apprentice-like about him that you can't help getting a kick out of the way he struggles to stay on message without losing his temper. I guess if nothing else, he can do a remake of Harvey, playing an imaginary rabbit next to Trump.
Despite all the abuse he has taken both from the White House and the media, Spicer still sees Trump as a unicorn. Either he signed an airtight non-disclosure form or he is hopelessly deluded or both.
Spicer is one of many former White House aides making the rounds, all continuing to extol their former boss. It makes you wonder if this is part of a plan to spread Trump's message through the mainstream media. Lewandowski, Scaramucci, Spicer and others frequently pop up on CNN and other mainstream news programs promoting Trump. Spicer has gone so far as to boldly predict Trump will be re-elected, and has joined a pro-Trump super PAC to ensure that he does. Pretty amazing given how badly he was treated by Trump.
My question is why the mainstream media allows these Trump surrogates to use their shows as a platform for this re-election campaign? None of them offers any insightful comments. Instead, they promote the alternative reality show that is the Trump White House. In their minds, the Orange King can do no wrong, even when he is doing wrong everyday.
Steve Bannon is busy taking this freak show to Europe, where he hopes to give nationalist parties a jump start by using Soros' Open Society as an inspiration for his toxic alt-right counter movement. Not surprisingly, it is being well covered by Russia's propaganda arms.
As Emily Maitlis noted, Spicer and his pals are corrupting the world by spreading damaging lies well beyond their short tenures in the White House. Their promotion of an alternative narrative to the prevailing mainstream narrative plays well among nationalist parties, and is proving very difficult to fight in conventional ways, especially given the outsized influence of social media. The UK is trying to rein in "fake news" by holding social media more accountable, as is the case throughout the EU, but it will take far more than new rules and regulations. The damage is pervasive and not so easily excised as facebook and twitter are finding out.
We will not be able to operate the same way again. The same social media that helped fuel Obama's historic victory in 2008 was the driving force in Trump's epic surprise victory in 2016. Like it or not, this is the main source of "news" for many people: sharing articles, memes and short videos that go a long way toward influencing opinion. These super PAC's have tapped into the social media big time, supplying the stories that go viral, with the help of bots, virtually at the speed of light. There is no way to keep up with it short of pulling the plug, which no one wants to do.
What we can do is not give credit to phony peddlers like Sean Spicer by inviting them on mainstream news, even if it is for no other reason than to publicly eviscerate them. All we do is allow these stooges to garner sympathy. If they can't make an honest argument, they have no business being on respected news networks like BBC.