White House press secretary Sean Spicer departs after answering questions at his daily briefing at the White House April 13, 2017 in Washington.
If you’ve been in the workforce for any length of time, chances are you’ve come across a horrible boss.
You know, the kind that hovers over you to make sure you’re doing things exactly the way he or she wants it done. After all, no one could possibly be smarter than the person who sits behind the big desk in the company’s biggest office.
I certainly know what it’s like to have a boss who is never satisfied, no matter how much you give of yourself. I spent a year working for one when I was in my mid-20s. That’s why, if I dig deep enough, I can conjure a tiny bit of pity for Sean Spicer.
Look, I know what you’re going to say. Spicer isn’t some naive kid, fresh out of college, trying to figure out how to be an adult. He’s been around the block a few times. He knew exactly what he was getting into when he agreed to be the spokesman for President Donald Trump. And no one is forcing him to stay shackled to the president.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer appeared to forget about the Holocaust when he compared Adolph Hitler with Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying Hitler "didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons" during a cringe-worthy televised briefing with reporters on Tuesday. He later clarified his answer.
Spicer, after all, served five years as communications director for the Republican National Committee. During the presidential campaign season, he also took on additional duties as the RNC’s chief strategist. In that role, he was, among other things, the party’s head honcho in negotiating the rules for the presidential debates.
Now he’s in a no-win situation. His boss flip flops on the issues, makes outlandish accusations and refuses to acknowledge facts. The press secretary’s job is to spin that to the media so that the president comes out sounding smart. It’s a dead-end job.
But it could explain why someone with such an impressive resume and loads of experience dealing with the media often comes off like a buffoon whenever he holds a press conference.
I’m going to assume that Spicer knew that one of the first rules of politics is to never make a comparison to Adolph Hitler, for whom there simply is no comparison. And you certainly don’t do it in a room full of journalists, as he did at last week’s press briefing.
Certainly, Spicer must have known that before he could finish saying that Hitler "didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons," the backlash would begin. His efforts to explain himself only made it worse.
Though Spicer later said in a CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer that he was aware of Hitler’s gas chambers used to kill millions of Jews, he responded to a reporter’s follow up question at the news conference with this: "I think when you come to sarin gas, he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that (Syrian President Bashar ) Assad is doing."
With this kind of material, a Saturday Night Live skit could practically write itself.
Why would a press officer with so much experience say something so stupid? I can only surmise that he was channeling his boss. Trump has disrespected African-Americans, disabled people, Muslims, Latinos, Asians, women and just about every other group you can think of.
How hypocritical would it be for Trump to reprimand an employee for making a disparaging comment about the Holocaust when the president himself had to be forced to speak out against the desecration of Jewish cemeteries?
This is just the latest in a string of embarrassing moments Spicer has had since he took over the job in January. It began with his first televised Q&A with the media, in which Spicer allowed no Q’s.
He started by criticizing the media for what he called "deliberately false reporting." A reporter had Tweeted that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office. Turns out the reporter just didn’t see it and immediately Tweeted that he’d made a mistake. But to Spicer, the reporter was "irresponsible and reckless." So much for making a mistake.
The biggest mistake Spicer made, though, was to try and convince the media that what they saw at the inauguration wasn’t what they actually saw. And that the photographs of the crowd size misrepresented what the cameras actually saw.
On his boss’ orders, Spicer stood before the media and lied. "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe," he said. And with that, his credibility leaped out the window.
It’s clear that Spicer has never been a part of Trump’s inner circle. According to some news reports, Trump never wanted him for the job. He preferred Kellyanne Conway. There’ve been times when Spicer has been sent out to face the media with insufficient and even outdated information. And what did he get for going out there and making a fool of himself? Criticism from his boss not only for what he said, but for the suit he wore.
For most of us, that would have been the breaking point. Spicer seems to be eager to trade off his own professional credibility for a boss who never had any credibility. But if it were me, I would burst into that big Oval Office and tell my boss to take this job and shove it.