At this point, it seems fair to say that no one really expects much in the way of truthfulness from Sean Spicer’s regular jam sesh with the White House press corps. Still, sometimes, even those low expectations prove to be just a bit too much.
Case in point, Tuesday’s press conference: There Spicer was asked point blank whether the Trump administration has been forceful in condemning Islamophobia, after Donald Trump (finally) denounced a recent nationwide spate of anti-Semitic crimes. Spicer had just been angrily complaining that Trump wasn’t getting enough credit for his criticism of anti-Semitism, so here was a perfect opportunity to level an equally robust condemnation of anti-Muslim hatred. (“Yes, the president is adamantly against Islamophobia in all forms,” etc, etc.) But this is Sean Spicer, we’re talking about here. So, of course, he started talking about…terrorism?
Here’s the full quote:
I think that the President, in terms of his desire to combat radical Islamic terrorism—he understands that people who want to express a peaceful position have every right in our constitution. But if you come here or want to express views that are seek to do our country, our people harm, he’s going to fight it aggressively whether it’s domestic acts that are going on here, or attempts through people abroad to come into this country. So there’s a big difference between preventing attacks and making sure that we keep this country safe, so there is no loss of life, and allowing people to express themselves in accordance with our first amendment. Those are two very, very different, different things.
Of course, Spicer’s answer could hardly be considered a surprise, given the lengths the Trump administration has gone to create a fertile ecosystem for discrimination against Muslims, among others. Still, to see the press secretary so blatantly shrug off the question suggests Spicer has been studying hard at the Ross Geller school of communication:
Keep pivoting, Sean. It’s what you’re best at.