Monday, September 18, 2017


This was not a good moment for the otherwise Trump-skeptical Emmys last night:
Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer got a turn on one of Hollywood's glitziest stages Sunday night. And he used it to laugh about the falsehoods he told the American people in an attempt to rehabilitate his image.

... inherent in Spicer's appearance Sunday night was an acknowledgment that he sold the American people a bill of goods from the White House lectern. He essentially admitted to blatantly misrepresenting President Trump's inauguration crowd size, and he and those assembled all had a good laugh at it.

CNN's Brian Stelter asks, "Why did the Emmys help Sean Spicer rebrand?"
... he is hitting the speaker circuit, landing consulting gigs and looking for a potential TV commentator job. He will be a visiting fellow at Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics this fall.

Many Democrats and some anti-Trump Republicans are offended that Spicer -- who peddled misinformation on behalf of his boss -- is being embraced by institutions like Harvard.

"Harvard and the Emmys based on 7 months lying in the WH," former Obama foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes tweeted. "America is not exactly a meritocracy and false equivalence trumps reality."

... The MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell commented that the Emmys "helped Spicer pump up his 'lecture' fees, which is all that matters to him now."

While many of the objections came from liberals, some conservatives also made arguments against the skit.

"I know people who were offered opportunities to lie for Donald Trump and quietly declined. Harvard & The Emmys calling the wrong folks," former Jeb Bush spokesman Tim Miller tweeted.
And Spicer wasn't just warmly embraced during the broadcast:
Both sources who spoke with CNN on Monday morning marveled at the way Spicer was mobbed by Emmys attendees both at the awards show and at the parties afterward.

"He could barely eat at the Governor's Ball, he was so popular," one of the sources said.
As you can see:

But why should we be surprised? Yes, the entertainment industry has been harshly critical of the Trump administration -- but at the same time, entertainers, especially comedians, seem to imagine that individuals in Trump World are no more harmful than the fictional versions of themselves.

Melissa McCarthy's impersonation turned Spicer into a harmlessly absurd bully -- and then the Emmys turned Spicer into Melissa McCarthy. The Saturday Night Live version of the odious Kellyanne Conway portrays her, in the words of one culture critic, "in a weirdly sympathetic light," as "one part put-upon mother figure, and one part victim of Stockholm Syndrome. As a viewer, you’re set up to feel bad for how Conway has to put up with this blowhard, as if she didn’t a choice."

Melania Trump is regularly portrayed as her husband's victim, or even as his prisoner. Candice Bergen was on Bravo last week wearing a "Free Melania" sweatshirt -- a now-widespread comic trope that's also essentially the message of "The Arrangements," a short story by the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which was published in The New York Times Book Review last summer. I might have sympathy for Melania myself if I hadn't watched her defend her husband's birtherism:

Trump is reckless, ignorant, vicious, and dangerous -- but, for some reason, his underlings are often treated as worthy of sympathy, especially if they seem to have been mistreated by him.

Also, Trump doesn't wield his power in predictable ways, so media figures want to cozy up to anyone who seems capable of decipher his thinking. Thus, while Steve Bannon is so nasty and unlikable that no one feels sorry for him, he was mostly deferred to by Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes earlier this month, apparently because Rose wanted Bannon to solve the mystery of our new political order.

On Spicer, I'll give Lauren Duca the last word:

No comments: