The casting of Sean Spicer, Donald Trump’s former press secretary, to the upcoming US season of reality hit Dancing with the Stars has created uproar and accusations it is out of step with the show’s ethos.
Vanity Fair led the chorus of disapproval, saying Spicer’s “galling” casting was something “you really, truly hate to see”.
“Why is failed professional liar Sean Spicer on Dancing with the Stars?” asked Vice.
The slamming wasn’t limited to media sites.
Among those voicing their opposition to Spicer learning to cha-cha for a reported six-figure sum is Dancing with the Star’s co-host Tom Bergeron.
In a long Twitter post, Bergeron said he “offered suggestions” for the casting of season 28 over lunch a few months ago with the executive producer of DWTS.
Chief among them was that Bergeron wanted the TV show – returning after a year-long hiatus – to be “a joyful respite” and “welcome relief” from the “exhausting” US political climate for its audience.
Dancing with the Stars should be “free of inevitably divisive bookings from any party affiliations,” Bergeron said.
The host left the lunch believing he and the producer were in agreement, but Spicer’s hiring meant they clearly were not, he tweeted.
“Subsequently a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, ‘go in a different direction’,” Bergeron wrote.
“We can agree to disagree. I’ll leave it to them to answer any further questions about those decisions.”
Some thoughts about today pic.twitter.com/aCQ4SHrGCI
— Tom Bergeron (@Tom_Bergeron) August 21, 2019
Spicer, 47, who served as Mr Trump’s first press secretary for six months in 2017, brushed off the host’s disapproval.
“It’s time to have some fun. Excited to join a great cast and show,” he tweeted.
Spicer’s casting was announced during the unveiling of the DWTS cast on Good Morning America on Wednesday (US time).
He had the show’s hosts laughing when he stood in front of a podium then riffed on getting kicked out of a high school band for having no rhythm.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 21, 2019
But not everyone saw the funny side.
Many media outlets sided with Bergeron over the casting of Spicer.
He said the crowd was Mr Trump’s inauguration was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration period,” despite photos showing predecessor Barack Obama drew a bigger crowd.
Vanity Fair canned ABC’s decision to give a man “who helped undermine democracy” land a light-hearted TV comeback, something it said Spicer had reportedly been “mulling” for years.
“What could be a more appropriate lead-in to an already bleak 2020 presidential race than a reality-competition franchise embracing an ex-press secretary who spent his time at that job berating and lying to the press?” it asked.
Vice said “re-framing dangerously incompetent political figures as ‘fun’ is careless and deeply troubling”.
It said Spicer stands out in the DWTS line-up of people who got “at least semi-famous” for being actors, athletes or reality TV stars because he is famous for “being an incompetent professional liar”.
The Independent catalogued at length what it saw as Spicer’s transgressions during his time as Donald Trump’s mouthpiece.
It wrote his crack at reality TV appears to be not just “the latest effort to rehabilitate” his image but “encapsulates what’s currently wrong” with the US’s sense of accountability.
Spicer “should be on a permanent public blacklist, not in a televised waltz”, The Independent said.
But fans greeted the Spicer news warmly on social media.
“Go kill it Mr Spice,” said one Instagram user.
“I will vote for you,” said another.
“Ignore those crazy lefties,” wrote a third.
The former press secretary’s previous entertainment experience includes the time he took on the role of the Easter Bunny at the 2008 White House Easter Egg Roll.
The performance later resurfaced on social media.
the good ole days — what I would give to hide in a bunny costume again https://t.co/QOlPBsMwMA
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) March 28, 2016
The show will premiere on September 12, with other cast members including actor James Van Der Beek, Queer Eye cast member Karamo Brown, model Christie Brinkley and former Kardashian husband Lamar Odom.