Sean Spicer Defends His Participation in Dancing with the Stars After Backlash
- Critics are using #BoycottDWTS online after Dancing with the Stars announced former Trump Administration Press Secretary Sean Spicer as a contestant on its 28th season.
- Host Tom Bergeron also criticized the casting, saying he stressed not including any political figures during a meeting with the ABC show’s executive producer.
- However, Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown, who will also appear on the season, defended Spicer, telling Access that he looked forward to respectful conversations with him.
Spicer on DWTS
Former Trump Administration Press Secretary Sean Spicer is responding to those critical of his participation in the upcoming 28th season of Dancing with the Stars after #BoycottDWTS began trending online.
“I am very happy with who I am and who I support,” Spicer said in an interview with CNN. “I’m not changing. I am giving people another opportunity to see a side of me that is different.”
Spicer also defended his appearance, calling the show entertainment and not news. “If people are looking for news, I suggest they tune into a news program,” he told CNN.
“It will make this show an example of how Americans can disagree about politics and tune into good entertainment shows and keep their politics at bay,” he told US Weekly in a statement.
On Wednesday, Good Morning America revealed the cast, which includes Christie Brinkley, Ally Brooke from Fifth Harmony, Kate Flannery from The Office, and Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown. Spicer will reportedly make six figures while on the show.
Before passing the position to Sarah Sanders, Spicer’s tenure as press secretary was embroiled in controversy. Following President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Spicer claimed it was the largest crowd to ever show up at a presidential inauguration.
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe,” he said in a press conference.
That claim was heavily disputed, and after he left the position, he later said he regretted making the comment.
Spicer also received criticism for comments about Hitler in relation to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons.
“You look, we didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II,” he said in a different press conference. “Someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Nazi soldiers — under the command of Adolf Hitler — killed millions of people using gas chambers.
While Spicer’s new appearance is also generating controversy, he is not the first political figure to appear on Dancing with the Stars. Fox News host Tucker Carlson competed in season 3. Former U.S. Representative Tom DeLay and now-Secretary of Energy Rick Perry also competed in different seasons.
More political figures connected to Trump such as Anthony Scaramucci and Omarosa also competed on other shows like Big Brother.
Host and Castmate Reaction
Hours after Spicer’s casting was revealed, host Tom Bergeron jumped into the mix by criticizing the choice to cast a political figure.
“A few months ago, during a lunch with DWTS’ new executive producer, I offered suggestions for season 28,” he said on Twitter. “Chief among them was my hope that DWTS, in its return following an unprecedented year-long hiatus, would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations. I left that lunch convinced we were in agreement.”
“Subsequently (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, ‘go in a different direction.'”
“For me, as host,” he continued. “I always gaze into the camera’s lens and imagine you on the other side, looking for a two-hour escape from whatever life hassles you’ve been wrestling with. That’s a connection, and a responsibility, which I take very seriously.”
Castmate Karamo Brown, however, said he looks forward to having respectful conversations with Spicer.
Sean Spicer and I have been talking,” he said in an interview with Access Online. “I was most excited to meet him because the thing is, people would look at us and think that we’re polar opposites, but I’m a big believer that if you can talk to someone and meet in the middle, you can learn about each other each other both grow, and so, we have been chatting all day today. He’s a good guy, really sweet guy.”
Online Response and Boycott Culture
Many online directed their criticism at Dancing with the Stars and its network ABC for deciding to cast Spicer, with some calling for a boycott of the show.
“Let @ABCNetwork know that paying Sean Spicer a reported six-figure salary to appear on @DancingABC is a hard pass from loyal viewers,” one person tweeted. “We will not be tuning in this season if he remains on the lineup.”
But he bought his dancing shoes already! #BoycottDisney #BoycottDWTS pic.twitter.com/YXXyEBrt2p— Elizabeth Rydan (@elizabeth_rydan) August 21, 2019
Many of those people who are urging for a boycott of the show said they are scared to normalize a political figure who, at times, provided misinformation to journalists.
“Shame on you ABC,” one person tweeted. “By having Sean Spicer on DWTS, you are helping to normalize a behavior, ie lying, that is helping to tear down our democracy.”
Shame on you ABC. By having Sean Spicer on DWTS, you are helping to normalize a behavior, ie lying, that is helping to tear down our democracy. This is a slap in the face to all journalists who try to get the truth out to the public sometime at the cost of their own lives. SHAME.— Hailey Lyons (@HaileyJLyons) August 22, 2019
I love this show, but I can’t do it. So disappointed. You are right, we use your show as an escape. Now we can’t even do that. Normalizing someone who spewed constant lies, as the mouthpiece of our President, is no escape for me. #BoycottDWTS— whatsername? (@rhuvane) August 22, 2019
Meanwhile, others have called the situation the latest trend in a series of calls for people to boycott media, including hashtags like #BoycottMulan and #BoycottSony that trended earlier this week.
See what others are saying: (Fox News) (Vanity Fair) (LA Times)
Max to Agrees to “Properly” Credit Writers and Directors After Facing Backlash For Lumping Them in As “Creators”
The company said the credits were laid out incorrectly due to “an oversight in the technical transition from HBO Max to Max.”
After film and television writers slammed Max for crediting all writers, producers, and directors as general “creators” on its platform, the company said it will be adjusting its credits display.
“We agree that the talent behind the content on Max deserve their work to be properly recognized,” the streaming service said in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
Max — the new rebrand of HBO Max that incorporates Discovery content — launched on Tuesday to much criticism. Amid glitches and app-switching confusion, the biggest backlash it faced was over the choice to lump creative roles into one credit section called “creators.” As one viral tweet noted, if a user were to select the film “Raging Bull,” the service’s display would not specifically credit Martin Scorsese as the director, rather, his name would be included at random with half a dozen other people, including writers and producers.
The decision was condemned by many in the industry who argued it minimizes writers and directors by not properly giving them credit where it is due. Especially amid the ongoing writers’ strike, and with directors and actors starting negotiations with studios, some took it as a slap in the face.
“The studios don’t want anyone to know our names,” writer Christina Strain tweeted. “It’s easier to pay us nothing if we’re faceless.”
“Another move from studios to diminish the role of writers, directors, actors and other craftspeople. Miss me wit this nonsense,” Jorge Rivera, the Vice-Chair of the Writers Guild’s Latinx Writers Committee, added.
In a statement, Directors Guild President Lesli Linka Glatter said that Warner Bros. Discovery’s choice to “collapse” these roles into one credit “while we are in negotiations with them is a grave insult to our members and our union.”
“The DGA will not stand for it,” Glatter continued.
WGA West President Meredith Stiehm claimed the move was “a credits violation,” as well as an insult “to the artists that make the films and TV shows that make their corporation billions.”
On Wednesday, Max said it would rework its crediting.
“We will correct the credits, which were altered due to an oversight in the technical transition from HBO Max to Max and we apologize for this mistake,” the platform said.
See what others are saying: (Gizmodo) (The Hollywood Reporter) (The Los Angeles Times)
A Quarter of Young British Men Support Andrew Tate’s Thoughts on Women
U.K. residents at large, however, do not view him favorably.
Even under house arrest in Romania, misogynist influencer Andrew Tate still holds substantial sway over young men.
According to data from YouGov that was obtained by The Independent, 26% of U.K. men between 18 and 29 years old who know of Tate agree with his views on women. That figure was largely the same for men between 30 and 39, as 28% agreed with Tate’s opinions on the subject.
Men in their 30s were slightly more likely to agree with Tate on his thoughts about masculinity. Three out of ten supported those views, compared to just a quarter of men 18 to 29.
Those statistics only include the thoughts of men who have heard of Tate, but per YouGov, most have. In the 18 to 29 group, 93% were familiar with him, and 86% of men in their 30s knew of him.
The U.K. at large was less aware of Tate, with just 63% of British adults having heard of him. Of that group, only 6% held a positive view of him.
Tate has faced substantial backlash for his sexist rhetoric over the years. In the past, he said that men should have “authority” over their wives or girlfriends, and that women should “bear some responsibility” for being raped. He was previously banned from Twitter over his extremist views on women but has since been allowed back on the platform.
He is currently being investigated in Romania for organized crime and human trafficking. He was arrested and held in custody in December but was released to house arrest earlier this year. No formal charges have been filed against him yet and he has maintained his innocence.
Tate currently boasts a Twitter following of 6.7 million. It has grown significantly since he was enveloped in legal controversy, and many of his supporters have demanded his release.
See what others are saying: (The Independent) (Glamour U.K.)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Involved in “Near Catastrophic” Paparazzi Chase
“While being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the cost of anyone’s safety,” a spokesperson for the couple said.
“Aggressive” Paparazzi Chase Couple in New York
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were involved in a “near catastrophic” paparazzi car chase Tuesday night in New York City, according to a spokesperson for the couple.
In a statement, the spokesperson described the photographers as “highly aggressive.”
“While being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the cost of anyone’s safety,” the statement added.
“This relentless pursuit, lasting over two hours, resulted in multiple near collisions involving other drivers on the road, pedestrians and two NYPD officers,” it continued.
Details of the incident are still emerging, but BBC News reported that there are claims the chase involved roughly six cars driving recklessly by running red lights, driving on the sidewalk, carrying out blocking moves, going backward on a one-way road, and taking pictures while driving.
The chase happened after Harry and Meghan were leaving the Women of Vision Awards with Meghan’s mother, Doria. They did not want photographers to learn where they were staying and attempted to avoid them in what turned into a 75-minute chase on a main road in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. They eventually ducked into a New York Police Department Precinct to hide out before getting into a different vehicle.
The NYPD released a statement confirming that they assisted in protecting the couple as “numerous photographers” hindered their transport. Officials said they made it to their destination and there were no collisions, injuries, or arrests.
The couple’s spokesperson is asking the public to not share or post footage of the incident.
“Dissemination of these images, given the ways in which they were obtained, encourages a highly intrusive practice that is dangerous to all in involved,” the spokesperson said.
Memories of Princess Diana
The chase evokes the brutal press hounding Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, was subjected to throughout her life. The paparazzi’s obsession with her ultimately resulted in her death in 1997, when she was killed in a car crash after being chased by photographers in Paris.
Since marrying Meghan and later bowing out of the Royal Family, Harry has made it explicitly clear that he fears those events could happen again. Meghan has been the subject of endless tabloid scrutiny, enduring racism and harassment from the press. Part of the reason they left the Royal Family was to keep their family protected from such attacks.
Mayor Eric Adams brought up Diana’s tragic passing while speaking about Tuesday night’s chase.
“I don’t think there’s many of us who don’t recall how [Harry’s] mom died,” Adams said while speaking to reporters. “And it would be horrific to lose an innocent bystander during a chase like this and something to have happened to them as well…I think that was a bit reckless and irresponsible.”
Adams also questioned whether or not he believes a chase could go on for two hours in a city as congested as New York, but noted that even a 10-minute chase would be dangerous. He said he will be briefed on the exact timeline and details later.