Sean Spicer briefly returned to the spotlight Wednesday night, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live in his first interview since resigning as White House press secretary in July. But even though Kimmel tried to squeeze as much juicy information out of him as possible now that Spicer’s not technically tied to the government, Spicer delivered more of the same hemming and hawing he used to deliver from the White House podium.
Spicer insisted that despite his resignation, he is “absolutely not” distancing himself from the president. He defended the Trump administration’s loose relationship with facts and tendency to stretch them into falsehoods by saying, “You can look at the facts and come away with different opinions."
He also laughed when recalling his disastrous first day of work: the day after the inauguration, when he lambasted the press for not reporting (the lie) that the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s. Despite Kimmel pushing him to acknowledge the absurdity of that request, Spicer simply shrugged that Trump “wanted to set the record straight,” and explained that his job was to say what the president wanted, so what else was he supposed to do?
Perhaps the most frustrating moment of Spicer’s appearance came when he defended his use of the catchphrase “fake news” by explaining that he was frustrated by reporters making up or twisting stories for clicks and attention. On the one hand, yes, that is frustrating. On the other, outlets like Breitbart and Fox News — ones the Trump administration openly favors — are known for doing exactly that. When Spicer tried to criticize the press for going on Twitter to “perpetuate myths,” I almost fell out of my seat alongside Kimmel as the host asked in disbelief, “The journalists go on Twitter and perpetuate myths? What about the president?"
But there were a couple of moments of real levity in the interview. When Kimmel asked Spicer about Anthony Scaramucci replacing him to such disastrous effect, Spicer smiled and said that it proved him right about Scaramucci being unqualified for the job (which was his stated reason for resigning); when Kimmel brought up Melissa McCarthy’s blistering Saturday Night Live impression, Spicer laughed and said that it cost him “a lot of money in therapy.”
In general, the 20-minute interview (available in its entirety online) was a display of the skills Spicer attempted to sharpen during his tenure as press secretary: evading answers and pumping up the president — who he still insisted to Kimmel on Wednesday is “a good man” whose “heart is in the right place.”