Sean Spicer had another very bad week
Look, Sean Spicer has a really hard job. His boss is an avid consumer of media who thinks he always better how to sell stories and deal with reporters. His boss is also the president of the United States.
Spicer is forever caught between two constituencies: Donald Trump and the White House press corps. And, time and time again, he sides with Trump — often at the expense of those pesky things called facts.
Amid mounting evidence — and that’s an understatement — that Trump has simply made up the notion that he was wiretapped by the Obama administration in the 2016 campaign, Spicer delivered an angry and confrontational performance. He repeatedly accused the assembled press corps of “cherry picking” news stories and purporting to have knowledge it didn’t about the wiretapping story.
All of which is, sort of, okay. Spicer got into real trouble when he offered what he suggested was proof (it wasn’t) of why Trump just might be right about the alleged wiretapping. Spicer cobbled together clips from conservative websites and columnists to make the case. In his coup de grace, he cited conservative commentator Andrew Napolitano’s suggestion that British intelligence could have tapped Trump Tower at the behest of the Obama administration.
Cue international incident. The British national security agency called the claims “utterly ridiculous,” and national security adviser H.R. McMaster had to do a bit of late-night diplomacy to paper over the problem.
What Spicer seems to not get — or what Trump won’t allow him to get — is that when he is standing behind the podium in the White House briefing room, he is a spokesman for the entire United States, not just the president. And when facts get such short shrift, it has real-world effects — on our allies and our enemies.
I’ve written before that Spicer deserves some level of empathy given the impossibility of his situation. But he knew what he was getting into when he took the job, and his repeated inability to find a sweet spot between the demands of his boss and the needs of the press corps means that he had the Worst Week in Washington. Again.