Sean Spicer is writing a book about his stint as White House press secretary, but political junkies hoping for a revealing, tell-all account of life with President Trump will probably be disappointed. Nothing in the way Spicer has conducted himself since leaving the administration in July predicts raw candor.
Sure, the former Republican National Committee spokesman has laughed at his own expense. Remember his cameo at the Emmys? Spicer rolled out on a lectern, Melissa McCarthy-style, and paraphrased his most infamous line: “This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period — both in person and around the world.”
The next morning, Spicer told the New York Times that he “absolutely” regrets berating journalists for accurately reporting that Trump’s Inauguration Day crowd was smaller than Barack Obama’s.
Yet Spicer has never apologized for overstating Trump’s attendance. On the contrary, he has justified it as part of the job of a loyal spokesman.
“Even if you know the crowd wasn’t bigger,” Jimmy Kimmel posited during an interview with Spicer in September, “you have to go — as press secretary, you have to say that it was.”
“Look, your job as press secretary is to represent the president’s voice,” Spicer replied, “and to make sure that you are articulating what he believes, [what] his vision is on policy, on issues and on other areas that he wants to articulate. Whether or not you agree or not isn’t your job.”
It is no longer Spicer’s job to represent the president’s voice. But unlike former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who has felt liberated to criticize Trump’s response to Charlottesville and to discuss conflicts among aides, Spicer has refrained from talking about palace intrigue and refused to knock Trump for anything.
Spicer has followed the Corey Lewandowski model: continue to act like a Trump surrogate, even when you don’t work for him anymore.
So when Spicer says, as he did on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show Monday night, that his book will “set the record straight and give people a real understanding of what happened,” we can expect that Spicer’s version of history will present events the way Trump would like them to be viewed.
“I looked back at the coverage of the campaign, the transition, and the first, six, seven months of this White House,” Spicer told Hannity. “I realized the stories that are being told are not an accurate representation of what President Trump went through to get the nomination, to transition to the White House and then his first six months in office.”
It sure sounds as though Spicer is going to push back against the media, just as he did in the White House briefing room. Even his selection of a publisher, Regnery Publishing, could be seen as a subtle jab at the media. Regnery has claimed without much evidence that the New York Times bestsellers list is biased against conservative books and said in September that it would no longer recognize the newspaper’s rankings.
As I wrote over the summer, when the too-good-to-be-true possibility of Spicer on “Dancing with the Stars” hung in the air, a reality-TV setting where celebrities sashay to sequin-soaked emotional breakthroughs was probably the only place to get him to open up. On the pages of a carefully edited book, Spicer is unlikely to bare his soul.