When asked about his acerbic, insult-driven comedic style, Don Rickles famously answered, My humor is an attitude. It’s an attitude which has been borrowed by many others in the modern era, often with great success, particularly on the late night talk circuit. With all that in mind, let’s see if you can guess where this routine about the departure of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer came from.
Oh Spicey, you lasted six months and a day. Or are those “inaccurate numbers”? You were not loved by reporters — or would you disagree, because “proceedings were intentionally framed in a way, in one particular tweet, to minimize the enormous support that had gathered”?
From the beginning, when an apprehensive America wondered what was ahead, you stood behind the lectern at the White House and lied. Even though lots of people do it now, you were a trailblazer, and nobody can take that away from you.
Let’s not say goodbye. Let’s just say you have no further comment.
“Spicey?” Followed by a blistering fusillade of sarcasm about being a liar? You might guess that it came from Colbert, John Oliver or some blogger who had indulged in one too many martinis before tweeting. (Ahem.) But you’d be wrong. Here’s another hint. The diatribe in question includes the phrase, “our four-Pinocchio press secretary” in the very first sentence.
Have you given up yet? Those quotes are from an editorial in the New York Times published under the byline of the editorial board. It’s not an op-ed or a guest piece from one of the Comedy Central figures they love to lionize. That comes directly from the desk of the editors. Lest you think this is just business as usual for that crew, let’s take a moment to investigate how they refer to other famous figures with whom they disagree.
Even when penning one of their typically scathing attacks on Donald Trump (who the editorial board obviously hates with the burning white anger of a thousand suns) over his “contempt for the rule of law,” the Gray Lady’s editors still manage to refer to him variously as Donald Trump, the President, or Mr. Trump.
We could climb down the Times’ ladder of contempt even further and read some of their commentary about Chris Christie, a person they obviously despise. While gleefully crowing over his poor poll numbers of late, aside from a couple of barely snarky quips referencing the television show Everybody Hates Chris, they manage to continually refer to him either as “the governor” or Mr. Christie.
The board recently wrote about the ongoing saga of Sheldon Silver, a public servant convicted of defrauding the people of New York to the tune of millions of dollars and receiving a lengthy sentence in prison. Even then they managed to weave their way through a full analysis, only referring to the subject as “Sheldon Silver” or “Mr. Silver.” (Whether or not the fact that “Shelly,” as he’s commonly called in other publications, is a Democrat affected their choice I leave to the judgement of the reader.)
This is so far afield from the tone that the board takes with public figures ranging from respected leaders to infamous tyrants that it clearly represents a momentary slipping of the mask. And Spicer was the perfect foil for their abuse, likely because even now they can’t bring themselves to print the various things the board members doubtless blurt out in private meetings over cocktails regarding the President himself.
But Sean Spicer became an easy target because he was the public face of a White House administration which the Times newsroom fought to keep out of office every bit as hard as the editorial board. They failed in that effort and it’s been a thorn in their paw ever since. In reality, Spicer was more of a tragic figure than any sort of villain. He was constantly sent out to deliver a message which was frequently being undermined by his boss via Twitter before he could even finish a session in the briefing room. Whether that was a result of not communicating well with the President or Donald Trump’s general preference for handling his own communications may never be known. (Or, at least, not until Spicer writes his eventual tell-all memoir.) But he was still a public figure and part of the administration.
Oh, Spicey. All this time they really hated you and your boss every bit as much as you thought. And it bleeds over into their reporting on a daily basis.