Sean Spicer at the Emmys: applause won’t make his guilt go away

As Trump’s former White House spokesman, Spicer bolstered the reputation and agenda of a monster. How can we now applaud him on stage?

‘Spicer was not an unwitting and unwilling participant in the Trump administration.’ Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Just 58 days. That’s all the time it took for Sean Spicer to return to public life, rolling on to a nationally watched stage, being literally applauded. Apparently it doesn’t take much to wash off the stink of the Trump administration – just an Emmy invite and a few celebrity smooches.

As Spicer did a bit at the Emmys on Sunday night – joking about the size of the audience using the same language he did months earlier, as he hectored the press over Trump’s inauguration crowd – celebrities and television industry folks laughed and applauded. As if this all was the funniest and cleverest turn of events yet. As if Spicer’s lies from the press secretary lectern were hilarious instead of terrifying.

As if this all was a show.

Are we really so easily distracted? So desperate for a reprieve from the awfulness that we will pretend as if this person didn’t bolster the reputation and agenda of a monster? Shame on us.

Spicer was not an unwitting and unwilling participant in the Trump administration; for six months, he was its face. He lied to the American people again and again, pushing the dangerous notion that citizens could not trust the press. He normalized deception.

Spicer claimed that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons, despite the fact that Hitler killed millions of Jewish people by gassing them, and then referred to “Holocaust centers” in his apology.

When the president was taken to task for issuing a statement to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day with no mention of Jewish people or antisemitism, Spicer called critics “pathetic” and applauded the president for “going out of his way to recognize the Holocaust”.

This is a man who blamed the press for the characterization of Trump’s travel directive as a “Muslim ban” or “travel ban” despite the word being the president’s own. A man who, when called out for his lying, said “sometimes we can disagree with facts”.

It does not surprise me that Spicer would seek to redeem himself. A lot of us knew it was coming. In May, cultural commentator and videoblogger Jay Smooth predicted this redemption tour. He said when that day comes, though, “no credit, no props, no pats on the back should be given … for…

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