If I May: Sean Spicer at the Emmys
Issue   |   Tue, 09/19/2017 - 23:23

At the annual Emmy Awards this past Sunday night, host Stephen Colbert began a joke by saying, “Is there anyone who could say how big the audience is?” He then turned away and delivered part one of the two-part punchline: “Sean, do you know?”

At this moment, part two of the joke appeared. The “Sean” in question was none other than Sean Spicer, the disgraced former press secretary in the Trump White House. He walked out on stage pushing a podium reminiscent of the one used by Melissa McCarthy during her impression of Spicer on Saturday Night Live. Spicer went on to parody his assessment of Trump’s inauguration crowd, saying, “This will be the largest audience to witness the Emmys, period.” Ha! It’s like when he said, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” months ago. That’s so funny.

If you couldn’t tell, I was being sarcastic when I said that it was funny. To me, and to many others reacting to this decision to include Spicer in the Emmys, it was incredibly inappropriate to give Spicer a platform to rehabilitate his image. The man chose to ally himself with a racist, sexist and incompetent man just to land a job. Spicer spent seven months vehemently defending lies and spewing fallacies from the White House press room podium. The very line that they parodied regarding inauguration crowd size was a bald-faced, irrefutable lie.

Actor Zach Braff provided an apt reaction to the situation on Twitter. “I’m not ready to laugh ‘with’ Sean Spicer,” he wrote. “I think he is an opportunistic liar that hurt our country.”

Former Obama foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes also offered an insightful take on the incident. “Harvard and the Emmys based on 7 months of lying,” he tweeted. “America is not exactly a meritocracy.” The “Harvard” that Rhodes is referring to is the fact that this fall, Spicer will be a visiting fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics.

In my view, the people in charge of making these decisions to normalize and legitimize Sean Spicer should be embarrassed. As Braff noted, the country should not be laughing with him after he peddled lies to us for months. Also, like Rhodes pointed out, Spicer has no business offering advice and instruction to young political minds, considering that he did a terrible job as White House press secretary.

I’m not exactly sure who is in charge of appointing visiting fellows at Harvard, but according to a CNN article about Spicer’s appearance at the Emmys, it was Stephen Colbert himself who suggested the bit. I was disappointed to discover this fact. Colbert is a comedian I have admired for a long time; The Colbert Report was a fantastic commentary on the rift between political parties, and throughout the 2016 election cycle as well as after Trump was elected, Colbert has been responsible for some of the most biting and insightful criticism of Trump on late night television. However, I cannot find any justification for this decision, and frankly, I am shocked that he made it. The same CNN article also included a source involved in the production who said that Colbert was not worried about normalizing Sean Spicer and that Donald Trump himself had already normalized him. This is a very troubling mindset. Donald Trump is the epitome of everything that is wrong with America. Those associated with him are complicit in a bigoted and horrible view of our country. To me, it is precisely because of Spicer’s involvement with Trump that we should never think of him as legitimate or normal again.