Sean Spicer on the Press: ‘I’ve Never Seen a Group of Individuals Who Protect Themselves Like the White House Press Corps Does’

By A.J. Katz 

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Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live for his first late-night interview since leaving the Trump administration this past summer.

Spicer was pleasantly surprised by the ovation he received before the interview: “If I had known I was going to get that kind of applause, I would have left earlier,” he joked.

Here are some of the most notable chats from their sit-down.

On the notorious “inauguration crowd size” press briefing:

Regarding Pres. Trump’s Twitter habit:

The more serious portion of the interview begins at around 10 minutes in.

Kimmel asked Spicer about the “fake news” phenomenon and if he felt that the majority of journalists “are just decent people who are looking to get the truth?”

“Yes, I think probably the majority are,” Spicer said “but there are a lot who would rather be first than right, and I think that’s unfortunate because it gives a bad name to those who do take the time to get it right.”

He continued: “There are some who go on Twitter or on other social media and start to perpetuate myths or make back-and-forth…and there were a lot of times where they would create a story out of something that just didn’t exist.”

He also was quite critical of the White House press corps, saying “I’ve never seen a group of individuals protect themselves like they do…there’s almost never an admission of guilt if they get something wrong.”

Kimmel: But the president — it seems that what he considers 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 de-legitimize the press for America?

Spicer: I think it’s a two-way street, and when these guys in the press corps go after the president in ways that are unbecoming — again, it’s sort of like what your mom said, two wrongs don’t make a right. I think sometimes when the press corps attacks the president, undermines him, calls into question his credibility from the outset, I think it creates a very poor relationship overall. I think that there is some area that could deserve a reset. I think Sarah [Huckabee Sanders] has done a phenomenal job of really trying to take the tone down.”

The interview got a bit more light-hearted after a rather serious 5+ minute stretch. Spicer provided thoughts on Melissa McCarthy‘s impression of him on Saturday Night Live (which won her an Emmy, which Spicer noted):

Spicer also dicussed his relationship with Anthony Scaramucci. “It wasn’t that I had anything personal against Anthony, I just didn’t feel as though he had the qualifications or the background to work in the White House communications office.” Spicer continued, “My view is if I believe he had the skill set to execute the job, then it was incumbent upon me to either step aside, or make my voice known.”

Kimmel is one of Spicer’s favorite comics, and towards the end of the interview, the late-night host showed a photo Spicer provided him with of the two together during Fleet Week when Spicer was serving in the Navy, and Kimmel was in town to fill in for Regis Philbin on Regis and Kelly.