Outgoing White House press secretary Sean Spicer is interviewed by Sean Hannity after deciding to step down from his post. Spicer said his “offer” to resign to make way for incoming communications director Anthony Scaramucci was in the “best interest” of the administration.
Spicer also had harsh words for the media of the “click bait mentality” among reporters.
“I was increasingly disappointed in how so many members of the members here in the media do their job, or rather, don’t do their job,” Spicer said Friday on the FOX News Channel. “The bias which they come from it at. And as I mentioned a while ago, I think that there’s become a very click bait mentality among a lot of reporters where they’re more interested in their clip or their click than they are about the truth and the facts.”
“I don’t want to paint everybody with the same broad brush,” Spicer said to Hannity. “But I do think that you’re very accurate in terms of the majority of folks that are now in this — in the briefing room, that are going into journalism. They’re not there for the facts and the pursuit of the truth. Rather, they’re trying to figure out, how do I get on TV, how do I become a YouTube star. And that’s disappointing.”
“It’s about being right, in trying to get the facts, and get the story right, and inform the readership or the viewership. And there are some reporters that do that. But by and large, we’re seeing more and more where it’s about the clip or the click,” Spicer said.
Full transcript, via the FOX News Channel:
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Joining us now in an exclusive interview, the outgoing White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer.
Sean, I guess after tonight, you’re probably going to be one happy guy, I’m just guessing.
SEAN SPICER, OUTGOING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, it’s been an honor and a privilege to serve the President and this country. I will never be able to thank the President enough for what he has been able to allow me to do. And I had the great opportunity to have some tremendous folks on a team here that worked tirelessly to promote the President’s agenda. I’m leaving it in capable hands with both Anthony and Sarah Sanders, who has been just a tremendous partner, and will continue to do the President and the country a great job.
HANNITY: All right. Walk us through what happened. And from what I understand, and all the reports are, the President did not want you to go. Tell us what happened.
SPICER: He didn’t. He’s been very gracious throughout this process. He wanted to bring some new folks in to help rev up the communications operation, and after reflection, my decision was to recommend to the President that I give Anthony and Sarah a clean slate to start from, so that they can talk about the President’s agenda and help move it forward. And he, after some back and forth, understood that the offer that I was making was something that was in the best interest of this administration. I thanked him for the opportunity. And I’m looking forward to watching Anthony and Sarah do a tremendous job.
HANNITY: All right. Walk us through that, to the extent that you can share, the conversation. You went in and you said you want to give them a clean slate. Give us a little of the back and forth between you and the President today in the Oval Office.
SPICER: Well, Sean, I will say this. I’ve never revealed private conversations that have been privy (ph) to the President.
HANNITY: But you’ll do it now.
HANNITY: You’re on your way out. You might as well, right?
SPICER: You’re right. You know what, you’re right. I’m on my way out, why not.
But as I said, I went into the President after we had the discussion early with Anthony and Sarah about what the President’s desires were. And I said, sir, I’ve had the opportunity to think about this. I think it is the best interest of this administration and your presidency that I give these two individuals the opportunity to operate without me in the way, so that they have a fresh start, that I’m not lurking over them. And I think that’s in the best interest of the organization, of this administration, and of his presidency.
And so, again, there was a bit of a back and forth. He’s an unbelievably gracious individual, and wanted to make sure that I thought that that was in the best interest of myself as well. He’s always thinking of others. And I assured him that I would be just fine. He assured me that he would continue to be as supportive as he always has been. And I told him I would stay on for a few weeks to ensure a smooth transition. He accepted that, and then we kept working hard to advance his agenda.
HANNITY: Did you feel in any way that your role had been diminished? I mean, you started sharing the podium with Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Anthony Scaramucci comes in. Did you feel in any way that this was against you? Did you feel you were pushed out in any way, or this was just totally your decision?
SPICER: As you mentioned, the President obviously wanted to add to the team more than anything. I just think it was in the best interest of our communications department, of our press organization, to not have too many cooks in the kitchen. And so I think that’s a good quality. They need the team here that works so hard, so tirelessly, to advance the President’s agenda, needs clear leadership, and I thought it would be a bit confusing having additional people at the top. And so I wanted to move on to give both Anthony and Sarah that clear lane in each of their respective areas.
But look, we’ve been — we’ve been working tirelessly trying to advance his agenda. There’s a lot of people here doing a lot of amazing work on the digital side, on our research side, on our press operation regionally. We had a very successful made in America week this week, garnering over millions of impressions throughout the country of the amazing things that — products that come from around the country and that the President’s working hard to keep and grow the manufacturing base and the job base around this country.
So there’s so much to be done, and we’ve got two additionally talented people that will continue to lead this effort forward.
HANNITY: Let me ask you about your perspective being on that podium. And I’ve known Tony Snow, Ari Fleischer, our own Dana Perino. From your perspective, being up there, the state of the media — we have this fake news, we’ve had phony stories. They get advanced. They blow up. Russia, Russia obsession. What is your assessment now six months and a day deciding to step down, of the media?
SPICER: I think most people aren’t really privy to how stories are developed and what stories are — make it to the front page, or to the mainstream media, whether it’s in print or in broadcast. And I think they’d be shocked and disappointed to see some of the bias that exists in some of the stories that don’t get told, or the manner in which they are told.
I was increasingly disappointed in how so many members of the members here in the media do their job, or rather, don’t do their job. The bias which they come from it at. And as I mentioned a while ago, I think that there’s become a very click bait mentality among a lot of reporters where they’re more interested in their clip or their click than they are about the truth and the facts.
HANNITY: You know — and this is very interesting to me, because I’ve watched and witnessed some of these exchanges. And I know there’s been an effort, for example, to maybe change a little bit of the rules inside the White House briefing room. And one of them was, you know what, maybe we’re not going to do everything on camera, and maybe the person at home, the average person at home doesn’t quite understand that when those guys get their moment, their idea is to get into as contentious a battle with you as they can, and is it 9 out of 10 times, that’s what airs that night? That they’re not really looking for news, they’re looking for their moment? Is that a fair assessment, or am I being unfair to the media?
SPICER: No, I think that’s a very fair assessment. Now, I don’t want to paint everybody with the same broad brush. But I do think that you’re very accurate in terms of the majority of folks that are now in this — in the briefing room, that are going into journalism. They’re not there for the facts and the pursuit of the truth. Rather, they’re trying to figure out, how do I get on TV, how do I become a YouTube star. And that’s disappointing.
But there are some good reporters that still spend time getting to know, to learn the facts, to get the story out, and they should be rewarded and praised for their journalism. It’s not about being easy or hard or —
HANNITY: What’s the percent of —
SPICER: It’s about being right, in trying to get the facts, and get the story right, and inform the readership or the viewership. And there are some reporters that do that. But by and large, we’re seeing more and more where it’s about the clip or the click.
HANNITY: Yes. And I got to imagine that these were extraordinarily difficult times, because the media has been so obsessed with Russia. Now, I’m a talk show host. I have opinions. I’m not a traditional journalist. I’d be called an advocacy journalist. But when I look at issues like Ukraine, and the influence that they tried to have on the election, as long as it’s on helping the Democrats, that doesn’t seem to get that much play. Or the Uranium One deal, which I would argue is a real Russia Vladimir Putin scandal, they didn’t seem to care too much about that in the media.
And on a whole variety of other issues that I can bring up here. Do you think that they — that by and large, for the American people, you being on the podium, do you think conservatives like myself, when we say there is a media bias, a very, very distinct bias, and their obsession with Russia, am I right? Am I in the middle? Are they right? What do you think?
SPICER: I think you’re right. I think the majority of folks — there’s two things. One is that there is a bias. But then there’s also a Washington mentality. It’s really interesting, I’m very proud of the fact that we brought a lot of new voices into the briefing room, whether it’s through Skype or getting some talk radio show hosts here and allowing additional voices in.
Because what’s important is allowing other people to understand that the questions that we, and stories that we’re hearing from around the country, from one coast to another, aren’t necessarily the stories and the issues that are being covered by folks here in Washington. And we find that when the President goes on the road, when we talk about an issue and we do regional media days, the questions and the issues that are a concern to everyday Americans are not nearly what they are for the folks, the pack mentality that exist in the briefing room here at the White House, for those people to get trapped in the Washington D.C. media bubble.
HANNITY: I want to ask you this. I actually think I kind of have a missing chip (ph). And that’ll be a great headline on media. Hannity admits he has a missing chip (ph). Because they love to cover the media stories. I just don’t care what other people think about me. Was it hard for you when “Saturday Night Live” would go after you, or other people, late night comics would attack you? I remember asking you this one time, and I remember your answer distinctly. But I want to ask you before our audience here. Was that hard? Did you have a sense of humor about it? Did it bother you deep down in any way?
SPICER: Well I’m a prankster, so some of the — I like a good joke. I think when it’s funny, it’s funny. You got to laugh at yourself and accept that there’s some —
HANNITY: Was “Saturday Night Live” funny? Did you like that, or did that bother you?
SPICER: I think there are a couple parts that were funny. But there’s a little of it — there’s a lot of it that was over the line. I wasn’t funny. It was stupid or silly or malicious. But there are some skits that I’ve seen on late night television that I had to crack up at. So sometimes it can be funny. Some of the memes, you have to — have to laugh at yourself a little bit. But there are times when it goes from funny to mean, and there’s a difference when that happens.
And again, to your point, yes, you have to have a little bit of a thick skin if you’re going to do this.
HANNITY: You can’t be in the public eye. You can’t be taking on a role like that if you don’t. I think it’s hard.
So, have you thought a little bit about your future? Was this sudden for you, or had you been thinking about it for a while?
SPICER: I’ve always said that I was serving at the pleasure of the President. So —
HANNITY: The President wanted you to stay.
SPICER: He does. And we had a very robust agenda. The President’s doing so many amazing things on behalf of this country, that it was never — it was always about advancing that. But I’m really looking forward. My family has made a tremendous sacrifice to allow me to have this honor, and I really look forward to spending a lot of time with my kids and my wife, who have really been unbelievably supportive, to give me this amazing opportunity that the President has allowed me to have.
HANNITY: Have you been thinking about this for a while?
HANNITY: So it was really sudden?
SPICER: Well, I knew what the right thing to do is. I think I have a pretty good compass, and I made a decision that it was in the best interest not of just myself, but in the — for the President and for this administration, was to step aside and let Anthony and Sarah lead the team. But I knew right away that that was what was best for this President, for this country, for this administration. And so I followed that path.
HANNITY: Last question, and I think it’s probably the most important question. The American people, being served by the media in this country, or is there a big disservice to that?
SPICER: Well, I wouldn’t paint it with a broad brush, Sean. I think some, yes. Some networks, yes, some reporters, yes. But in a lot of cases, the answer is no.
HANNITY: All right. Sean Spicer, we wish you well. It’s not an easy job you took. I remember telling you that, too, in the beginning. I said, you sure you want that job? Be careful of what you ask for. We wish you the best.
SPICER: Thank you. And I will say, I have no regrets. This is — I can’t thank the President enough for this unbelievable honor, and I’m going to — I will always be grateful for that.
HANNITY: Well I hope you’ll still come on with us, and we want to get your take on the events of the day. Thanks for being with us.
SPICER: You bet.
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