The reveal went off without a hitch. From the live broadcast, it looked like the auditorium full of mostly liberal Hollywood celebrities lapped it up. There were laughs and lots of shocked faces.

Within minutes, however, a wave of criticism crested on social media. Journalists, activists and celebrities said they didn’t think it was funny to treat Spicer’s mendacious behavior like a throwaway laugh line.

The actor Zach Braff tweeted: “I’m not ready to laugh ‘with’ Sean Spicer. I think he is an evil, opportunistic liar that hurt our country.”

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.”