Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s new book reflecting on his time at the podium paints a rosy if sometimes thorny picture of his former boss, describing US President Donald Trump as “a unicorn, riding a unicorn over a rainbow” and a man to whom the regular rules of politics do not apply.
In The Briefing: Politics, the Press, and the President released on Tuesday, the one-time Republican Party spokesman and strategist is also highly critical of what he describes as the press’s “herd” mentality and its focus on palace intrigue over policy.
Throughout the book, Mr Spicer comes across as in awe of Mr Trump, a man he describes as “calculating and mercurial, charismatic but erratic” and “capable of defeating anyone, including himself”.
“I don’t think we will ever again see a candidate like Donald Trump,” Mr Spicer writes.
His high-wire act is one that few could ever follow. He is a unicorn, riding a unicorn over a rainbow.”
Mr Spicer also notes that, during the campaign, Mr Trump “would cross the line, jump over the line, and dance merrily back and forth over the line. But he never paid the price any other candidate would have paid”.
Mr Spicer reflects at length on his first disastrous press briefing, in which he angrily tried to dispute the fact that Mr Trump’s inauguration drew a smaller crowd than President Barack Obama’s first.
“In retrospect,” he writes, “I should have lowered the temperature and not so broadly questioned the media’s motives. … Fact checkers said my pants were on fire, fashion critics mocked my light-grey, pinstriped suit for the way it rode up my neck, and my first appearance before the media in the Press Briefing Room set an unfortunate precedent of a belligerent press confronted with an equally belligerent press secretary.”
Mr Spicer says he was doing what he thought the President wanted in being combative with the press that day, but quickly realised he was making a terrible first impression that turned out to be “the beginning of the end”.
The former spokesman also describes with near disbelief an episode in which he wrongly claimed Adolf Hitler had never used chemical weapons on his people as he railed against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
He writes that he had long advised Republicans to follow a simple rule: “Don’t ever, ever talk about rape or compare anything or anyone to Hitler or the Holocaust. Ever.”
Reflecting on his job and attempts to quell persistent leaks, he writes: “I sometimes felt like a scuba diver, abandoned in the middle of the ocean, treading water.”
He also takes issue with Mr Trump’s use of Twitter, calling the President’s favourite social media platform a “double-edged sword”.
“Sometimes he’s cutting up the opposition and sometimes he’s cutting up his own best messages.”