Sean Spicer Not Good Enough To Be White House Correspondent For Newsmax
The world never tires of dunking on Sean Spicer. The former White House press secretary was looking forward to returning to the White House press room during the Biden administration. Spicer even admitted that "to some degree I'm a bit jealous" of current White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, probably because she has integrity. However, his own employer, the rightwing propaganda outlet Newsmax, has rescinded his application to the White House Correspondents' Association.
"Newsmax already had two correspondents that work with the White House press corps," a Newsmax spokesperson said in a statement. "Emerald Robinson and John Gizzi serve as our primary White House correspondents. Given the current limited seating for daily briefings, we are pleased with our current representation, and at this time, don't see a need for additional personnel assigned there."
That's quite the bummer for Spicey, who has tried to represent his profession with dignity.
Spicer launched his own Newsmax show, “Spicer & Co." last March. He said he wouldn't “pretend to be a journalist," not that we'd notice. Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, a friend of the previous White House occupant, seemed very excited at the time about getting into the Sean Spicer business (or “bidness").
"We're playing the long game here," Ruddy said. "We're building a network over the long haul and we expect Sean is going to be one of our rising stars."
Although Spicer's brief tenure as White House press secretary was panned by anyone who paid attention, Ruddy believed Spicer struck a chord with "Americans in the heartland" who thought he "seemed very real and honest" while lying to them.
Shortly after his show launched, Spicer turned up at a coronavirus press briefing. His former boss did not acknowledge him by name or seem to recognize him.
Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer asks President Trump a question at the Coronavirus Taskforce briefin… https://t.co/e9P4eCXf6o— CSPAN (@CSPAN)1584722881.0
Spicer had White House press credentials at the time, but he didn't consider himself an actual journalist. We're not inclined to disagree.
"But I would also argue that I'm not trying to be a reporter," he insisted. "I went to ask questions for my show. I'm not claiming that I'm some sort of hard-hitting reporter. Newsmax has plenty of people who do that. We have a White House correspondent."
Really? We've reported earlier today about how the GOP seems to define “journalist" as “head of the Idaho GOP." That's almost Woodward and Bernstein caliber compared to Newsmax's White House correspondents, Emerald Robinson, and John Gizzi.
Robinson, for instance, is openly contemptuous of the Biden administration and Democrats in general. She's shared anti-vax garbage on Twitter and suggested that Biden's call for “unity" is over because he's announced efforts to combat domestic violent extremism. She's falsely claimed that Biden violated his own mask mandate and misrepresented his approval rating. She's recently pushed hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 cure. It's hard to distinguish her Twitter feed from some QAnon crackpot who is currently serving in Congress or will someday soon. But at least she hasn't claimed she got “chills" from witnessing the peaceful transfer of power just a few weeks after a violent insurrection. Then Newsmax might have to take steps.
Gizzi seems almost normal by comparison. He retweets (obviously biased) Newsmax articles in between reviews of the 60-year-old police drama “Naked City."
Robinson, however, demonstrates a major challenge facing the White House communications team. Deputy Press Secretary T.J. Ducklo said they expect reporters "to operate in good faith and tell their audience the truth," which would logically exclude the bulk of rightwing media.
"Organizations or individuals who traffic in conspiracy theories, propaganda and lies to spread disinformation will not be tolerated, and we'll work with the WHCA to decide how to handle those instances moving forward."
Actually adhering to this rule would look like a rightwing media purge, which would only feed their persecution complex. It's the ultimate "damned if you do" scenario. Newsmax could want to force the issue by proactively pulling Spicer. This removes the least repulsive option for the White House to acknowledge with a “hard pass."
Asked previously by Politico why he decided to apply in the first place, Spicer said, "I thought, why not? I cover the White House every day on the show, and I have obviously had a lot to say about the coverage of the White House and the Correspondents' Association over the last few years. You're never gonna effect change if you stay on the sidelines."
And now he's been sidelined.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."