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Sean Spicer made it clear during his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Wednesday that he was standing by President Donald Trump after resigning as White House press secretary in August.
When asked if he was distancing himself from Trump after leaving, Spicer replied, “Absolutely not.”
He was replaced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders in July. Wednesday’s show was his first late-night appearance since officially leaving his post.
When pressed on some of the more uncomfortable tasks he was faced with — including after the inauguration when he famously said the audience was the biggest ever, despite photographic evidence to the contrary — Spicer laughed and told Kimmel he didn’t need any help remembering. “I appreciate the reminder of how it went down,” he said.
“Why is [Trump] so concerned with size — have you ever seen the president naked?” Kimmel asked. “I have not,” Spicer replied, adding, “I think in all seriousness that, whether you voted for him or not, the president won the election, he faced a lot of headwinds, and I think there was a faction of people out there that didn’t want to give him the credit he deserved. I think a lot of times he takes that personally.”
Kimmel pressed back on the inauguration debacle, in which photos clearly showed a marked difference between the crowd size for former President Barack Obama’s inauguration and Trump’s.
“Look, your job as press secretary is to represent the president’s voice and to make sure you are articulating what his visions are on policy, on issues, and on other areas that he wants to articulate. Whether or not you agree, is not your job,” he explained. “But ultimately he’s the president, he decides and that’s what you sign up to do.”
And as for Spicer’s comments “that we can disagree on the facts,” (or as counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway would later call it, “alternative facts”) he defended that, too. “I think you can look at a set of facts and come out with one opinion and someone else can say, ‘While the facts are the same here, I come out with a different conclusion.’ And that’s what makes our country great,” he said.
Kimmel also brought up the president’s penchant for tweeting, something Spicer also defended. “[Twitter] was one of the president’s most effective tools on the campaign trail and he continues to utilize it, and you were constantly kept on your toes. And I will tell you, there is no one who is working harder than him when it comes to the hours of the day — he’s up late, he’s up early.”
Circling back to the press and the idea of fake news, Kimmel asked if, after everything, Spicer would agree that most journalists are “decent people, looking to write the truth.” To which Spicer did agree, saying, “I think probably the majority. There are a lot that would rather be first than right, and that’s unfortunate because it gives a bad name to those who actually do take the time to do it right.”
Kimmel then challenged him on the idea of fake news, saying, “It seems that what the president calls fake news is anything that criticizes him, and then he’ll give validity to wacky news sources sometimes because they’re complimentary. Do you think that is a dangerous thing, to delegitimize the press?”
“I think it’s a two-way street. When these guys in the press corps go after the president, from the outside it creates a very poor relationship overall and I think there are some areas that could deserve a reset,” he said. “I believe a free press is paramount to a democracy and it’s what makes our country great.”
However, he said it bothered him that the press corps would “protect themselves” and “not call out someone who has crossed the line on a story.”
“Lumping everyone together as fake news just seems terrible to me,” Kimmel replied, equating the idea to people lumping “all priests together as child abusers.”
“I agree, but if the press corps wants to attack Republicans, attack conservatives, undermine our attempt to have a constructive dialogue, it’s a two-way street. If we don’t want to lump every journalist into the same thing, then don’t lump every Republican and every conservative into the same box,” he replied to enthusiastic applause.
As for his post-White House future, Spicer himself told THR that he’s looking to capitalize on his name recognition, saying, “I’ve been humbled by the amount of interest, and now that I’ve completely left government, I’ll be looking to engage in those discussions.”
Spicer isn’t the only ex-White House staff member to book appearances on late-night television. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in August, which led to a Monday ratings high for the show.
Watch the full interview below.
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