Can a self-deprecating joke compensate for immorality?
Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attempted to answer that question at the Emmy Awards on Sunday night. In a surprise appearance at the liberal-dominated awards ceremony, Spicer joked that “this will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period — both in person and around the world,” poking fun at his own claim made in January about the size of Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd. The claim has since been proven false by a bevy of sources, earning Spicer a “Pants on Fire” label from Politifact.
Spicer has since attempted to portray the moment as an opportunity to joke about his own actions as a member of the Trump administration, “This was an attempt to poke a little fun at myself and add a little bit of levity to the event.”
This is not funny. Spicer’s January claim is reflective of the Trump administration’s continual ignorance toward facts and reality. Since he was elected, Trump himself has lied about foreign policy positions, election fraud, media claims, murder rates, immigration, healthcare, supposed wiretapping, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, trade deficits, television ratings, the Paris Climate agreement and the Charlottesville white supremacist rally, among other topics.
And quite often, Trump’s lying culture is enabled and even defended by his surrogates and campaign staff. Not only did Spicer defend false claims on multiple occasions; Spicer’s short-lived replacement Anthony Scaramucci lied several times in his short tenure, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt has continually doubted the validity of climate change data and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway’s use of the term alternative facts has become a long-running joke representing the administration’s lying tendencies.
Trump’s reckless ignorance toward facts and reality is the most dangerous aspect of his presidency. His constant attacks of journalists and accusations of fake news not only undermines our nation’s legitimacy, but exposes his utter lack of respect for First Amendment rights. When a political administration is able to present and push whatever version of the truth that it creates, nothing distinguishes the United States from an autocracy.
The administration’s enabling of the president is no less forgivable than the president’s own lies. By pushing Trump’s reality-ignorant agenda, his surrogates are willing to buy into blatant falsities for political credit. Despite Spicer’s claimed misgivings about his needing to push lies on behalf of the president, it is not morally excusable to lie to the American people just because your boss tells you to do so.
Mr. Spicer, I’m sorry, but you’re not entitled to joke.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Alex Domb at [email protected]