HARRINGTON: Spicer cameo disgusting display by CBS

Sean Spicer at the White House, 2017.

Sean Spicer at the White House, 2017.

On Sunday, Sept. 17th, CBS did something incredibly predictable: attempted an unfunny “joke” during an awards show. This kind of fumble happens every year — some jokes don’t land right, and some are just plain unfunny. However, the biggest blunder of the 2017 Emmys wasn’t just a poorly timed joke. In fact, it was a disappointing and frankly dangerous moment normalizing inexcusable behavior. Host Stephen Colbert, notorious for his skewering of political figures, introduced former White House press secretary Sean Spicer to the stage to poke fun at Spicer’s time working in the Trump administration. The general vibe of the room was one of jovial, good-natured laughter, but the surprise appearance was divisive.

Watching Twitter implode in the hours following the Spicer cameo was something to behold. Celebrities and average Americans seemed to draw lines in the sand over the context and appropriateness of the appearance. Many people found the cameo entertaining and defended the decision to invite the former press secretary onstage as part of a joke directed toward President Donald Trump. Now, I’m all for jokes at the president’s expense, but this is not acceptable behavior from CBS.

Spicer should not be pardoned for lying to the American public just because he was fired from his position. He’s not a member of the so-called “resistance” because he learned how to laugh at himself. A few self-deprecating jabs should not and will not undo the damage Spicer has done to this nation and the public image of the American press.

The most disappointing element of the cameo is the mastermind behind the appearance: Stephen Colbert. Colbert has been taking on right-wing politics in America with both satire and outright condemnation for decades. I watched in disbelief as Colbert, a man who once lambasted the George W. Bush administration to Bush’s face at the White House Correspondents Association dinner, brought out an opportunistic, self-serving liar like Spicer to the national stage. My disbelief shifted to disgust as I watched the broadcast cut from stars laughing and reeling in surprise. The casts of “Veep” and “House of Cards” were guffawing in shock, mouths agape. These were the faces of people who can afford to laugh at the Trump administration and the damage it has done to this nation.

However, the most telling reaction to the stunt was Melissa McCarthy’s, the “Saturday Night Live” regular who returned to portray the former press secretary during his time in the White House. McCarthy’s face was subdued, polite yet clearly perturbed by the sudden cameo appearance. McCarthy has regularly tried to distance her comedic portrayal of Spicer and Spicer’s own actions, once saying that Spicer’s attempted ownership of the SNL “moving podium” bit was “not (Spicer’s) joke to make.” Her opinion on the issue of mocking the former press secretary is perfect: It’s not about laughing with Spicer, but laughing at him. This is the mentality we should be taking toward these figures once they no longer serve under the Trump administration.

The normalization and promotion of former Trump administration figures by the mainstream media is sickening. Why do we need a “60 Minutes” interview with Steve Bannon? His time as an advisor to Trump should have provided us with an accurate image of his character.

We poked our fun at these politicians when they were selling their souls to the Trump administration, and the White House tossed them aside when they were no longer effective propaganda tools. The integrity of the American press, their own moral decency, and the interests of the American public were not their priorities when they signed up for the job of press secretary. They worked in the White House for one reason: notoriety. Now that they’ve been fired from their positions, they are free to appear on programs like “The View” and present at the Emmy, and we’re allowing them to do so.

By ignoring the campaigns of misinformation and deceit that men like Spicer perpetuated during their times in the Trump administration, we risk normalizing behaviors from our former political figures. When we give platforms, or in this case moving podiums, to men and women who have had active parts in such a despicable and immoral presidency, we unconsciously forgive them.

By giving Spicer a shot of redemption on national TV, we start ourselves down a slippery slope that could see us excusing far worse behaviors. Remember this: Spicer is not a funny punchline or a “Saturday Night Live” character. Spicer is not a public figure worthy of redemption. Spicer does not deserve the spotlight.