News emerged on Monday that President Donald Trump's press secretary may be leaving his position and taking on a more "backstage" role at the White House communications office, as Politico and Bloomberg reported. While Spicer's exit is not yet confirmed, it nonetheless seemed appropriate to look back at Sean Spicer's most memorable press briefing moments, many of which illustrate why the press secretary made such a strong impression in such a short amount of time. UPDATE: On Friday, Sean Spicer resigned as White House press secretary.
As many know, Spicer's tenure as press secretary has received a great deal of attention. Spicer has been criticized for his gaffes, both at the podium and away from it, as well as mocked for his apparent anger during some of his interactions with the press. Indeed, especially early-on in his tenure, Spicer's briefings were considered "ratings gold" for networks, even beating out popular daytime soap operas. It seemed everyone wanted to watch Spicer, for better or worse.
Of course, as many know, Spicer's press briefings also lent themselves to highly popular reoccurring Saturday Night Live skits featuring Melissa McCarthy doing an impression of the press secretary. Indeed, McCarthy's first appearance on SNL as Spicer received record YouTube ratings and constituted the show's most highly-watched YouTube clip ever.
In light of all of the waves Spicer has made over the past six months as well as in anticipation of his possible impending transition to a new position, the following are a compilation of some of the press secretary's more memorable moments and gaffes. While some are more lighthearted, others define moments that certainly do not reflect well on Spicer or the administration, but still came across as amusing because of their absurdity.
Following Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau's visit to the White House, Spicer mistakenly referred to Canada's leader as "Joe Trudeau."
2Walls Versus Fences
During a press briefing in May, Spicer got into a heated discussion with a Breitbart reporter on the definition of a border "wall" versus a border "fence," with Spicer delving into the nuances of various types of walls, including "bollard walls" and "levee walls."
3Upside-Down Flag Pin
During a briefing in March, members of the White House press pool drew Spicer's attention to the fact that his flag pin was upside down — something particularly amusing since upside-down flags are considered a universal sign of distress.
In trying to refute a New York Times story, Spicer cited an example of what he believed was a "blatant factual error" — the notion that the article mentioned that Donald Trump wears bathrobes. Spicer noted that he "doesn't think the president owns a bathrobe ... definitely doesn't wear one."
In an un-televised press conference, Spicer defended Trump's "covfefe" Twitter typo, saying he thought "the president and a small group of people knew exactly what he meant" by the word. White House reporters promptly burst into laughter at Spicer's response.
6Gronk Crashes Spicer's Briefing
In a more lighthearted moment, the New England Patriots' Rob "Gronk" Gronkowski "crashed" Spicer's press briefing back in April and asked the press secretary if he "needed some help." The joke prompted a smile from Spicer, who stated, "That was cool."
During a press briefing addressing President Trump's alleged wiretapping claims, Spicer accidentally implied that CNN reporter Jim Acosta had "zero intelligence." Spicer was referring to Acosta's access to classified information, but the remark came across as a slight to Acosta. Thankfully, everyone in the room found the comment funny.
8Russian Salad Dressing
In responding to reporter April Ryan's comments about the Trump administration's alleged Russia ties, Spicer somewhat amusingly characterized media assertions about Russia as overblown, saying that "if the president puts Russian salad dressing on a salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection."
In May, Spicer neglected to provide a daily briefing or take questions after briefings from guest administration officials. Instead, Spicer merely left the room when the officials finished their briefings, much to the ire of the White House press pool. The Hill reported at the time that Spicer's move was "unusual."
10"Biggest Audience To Ever Witness An Inauguration, Period."
In one of Spicer's best-known press gaffes, the then-newly-minted press secretary staunchly and erroneously defended the size of Trump's Inauguration Day crowd compared to that of former President Barack Obama's. While mischaracterizing crowd size is absolutely not acceptable, the impassioned way in which Spicer did so was certainly amusing to watch.
11"Don't Make Me Make the Podium Move"
In a more lighthearted moment, Spicer made a joke referring to McCarthy's exaggerated portrayal of him on SNL, saying to a reporter "don't make me make the podium move," prompting laughter from the briefing room.
12Trump "Uses Golf" Differently
During this briefing in March, Spicer tried to defend why Trump golfing during his presidency was more acceptable than Obama doing so, since Trump supposedly "uses golf" differently than did Obama.
After a heated exchange the day before, Spicer seemingly goes out of his way to extend pleasantries to reporter April Ryan, prompting amused laughs from the rest of the room.
14Michael Flynn Was A "Volunteer"
During this outrageous press briefing moment, Spicer claimed that Trump's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was just a "volunteer" during Trump's campaign. In fact, Flynn was a top campaign adviser, vetted to potentially become the vice-presidential candidate, and eventually became President Trump's national security advisor before he unceremoniously resigned.
When briefing reporters on a discussion between Trump and Australia's prime minister, Spicer mispronounced the minster's name, calling him Malcom "Trumble" instead of Malcom Turnbull, something on which the Australian media did not hesitate to report.
During a press briefing in March, social media took Spicer to task for seemingly not checking his appearance before heading out to the podium. Spicer held a briefing with what appeared to be spinach lodged in his teeth.
17A New Acronym?
During a press briefing in April, Spicer mistakenly referred to "weapons of mass destruction," or WMDs, as "mass weapons of destruction," something which did not go unnoticed by the media.
Overall, it is clear that, for better or worse, Spicer's time as press secretary will not be forgotten. If Spicer does indeed leave the podium, press briefings just won't be the same.