Sean Spicer absolutely should be interviewed, The Late Late Show just won't get it right
Sean Spicer has answers.
The furore surrounding Michael Wolff's new book Fire and Fury, an inside look at the Trump White House, has proven that there is still a feverish demand for insight into what is surely the most outrageous political phenomenon in recent memory.
Sean Spicer, who served as Press Secretary in the Trump administration until July 2017 (which counts as a fairly long time in Trump years), will join Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show this Friday night in order to help feed the frenzy. Spicer, after all, is the face of some of Trump's grandest lies — the inauguration crowd size, "Hitler didn't gas his own people," the nature of Donald Jnr's meeting with the Russians. All vintage Spicer.
It's because of his complicity in a regime so many find so disagreeable that some think Spicer shouldn't be given a platform at all. He should. The Late Late Show is just the wrong one.
Sean Spicer is not Katie Hopkins or Nigel Farage — that is to say, a pointless antagonist who could only ever exist beneath an oxygen blanket provided by the media in the first place. Sean Spicer should be interviewed. If he's pinned to the mat, Sean Spicer has answers. Answers about Donald Trump's mental state, about his relationship with Russia, about the process by which the president designs his dishonesty. Few people on earth have as much insight into the mind of a man so inscrutable, so unpredictable, so dangerous and so powerful.
Ryan Tubridy is now entering his ninth year as host of The Late Late Show, do we really expect him to even try to wrestle some honesty from Spicer, the man who claimed there were 3 million fraudulent votes in the 2016 election? Or that Barack Obama ordered the bugging of Trump Tower? A man whose last paid job was to lie to the public for money?
In the RTÉ press release ahead of this week's Late Late Show, Tubridy offers a succinct overview of what viewers can expect when they tune in on Friday.
“Donald Trump’s presidency is one of the most fascinating and extraordinary things to happen in our lifetime. Sean Spicer was right there watching it all in a front row seat. I am really looking forward to getting his first-hand account of what it was like to be there in that White House with the world’s media watching and his insights into what’s really going on in Trumpland.”
Tubridy has already gotten it wrong.
Spicer was neither a fly on the wall nor a dog on a leash in the Trump White House, but a grown man and seasoned political operator who joined forces with a dishonest administration in an attempt to further all elements of its agenda, including limiting the rights of Muslims, undocumented children and transgender people. Sean Spicer did not watch from a front row seat. Sean Spicer was on the stage. Sean Spicer was literally behind the podium.
Spicer's role in the Trump White House is in danger of being very fundamentally misunderstood. Spicer is not a witness, he's a co-conspirator. If he walks away from The Late Late Show on Friday night and hops in a taxi to Coppers without having been pressed on why he supports banning Muslims from the United States, why he supports banning transgender people from the military, why he engaged in a crusade against the media that involved fighting against televised press briefings, then Ryan Tubridy has wasted his, and our, time.
Tubridy — a US politics-obsessive who has written a book about John F. Kennedy's visit to Ireland — certainly has the intellectual wherewithal to hold Spicer's feet to the fire. Even if he doesn't expect Spicer would tell it straight, his squirming would tell its own story. But The Late Late Show just isn't that kind of show.
Others have already fallen into the Spicer trap. Spicer was given an overwhelmingly positive response by the Hollywood elite at last year's Emmy's, when he came out on a movable podium like the one Melissa McCarthy uses to lampoon him on Saturday Night Live. James Corden apologised when photos emerged of him kissing and cuddling Spicer at an afterparty. Just because Spicer was utterly hapless, truly incompetent, genuinely terrible at the job does not make him a victim.
Spicer didn't quit when Donald Trump asked him to go before the world and lie about the size of his inauguration crowd, Spicer didn't quit when Donald Trump tried to ban Muslims from America, Spicer didn't quit when Trump tried to wriggle out of the Russia investigation by firing James Comey. The RTÉ press release makes it clear that Spicer still supports Trump and expects him to win in 2020. Spicer has been offered free public relations rehabilitation without even asking for one.
The release goes on to clarify, just in case you were worried, that Spicer will be talking about his Irish ancestry. PHEW. Oh boy, is that a relief. After all, could we really be expected to sit through 15 whole minutes with the former right-hand man of the President of the United States if he wasn't going to natter on about his great-grandfather from Kinsale? No thank you.
After all, it's not like there are more important things to ask him about.