A more subdued, post-Melissa McCarthy-impersonation Sean Spicer took the podium today at his first White House press briefing since undergoing his Saturday Night Live skewering. While disappointing, it was not terribly surprising that reporters in the room chose to stick to more substantive matters than an SNL impersonation, so Spicer took no questions at the gathering about McCarthy’s performance, or his thoughts on the use of plush toys to illustrate policy.
Dressed in a somber slate-grey suit, deep plum blue tie, and crispest of white pocket squares – President Donald Trump notices these things and has criticized Spicer’s sartorial choices in the past – Spicer seemed intent upon toning down his back-and forth with the press. For most of the presser, Spicer did not crack a smile. And, to make sure the reins did not slip from his grip, as they sometimes have in past briefings, Spicer seemed to speed up and leave absolutely no space between the last words of an answer and calling on the next reporter to whom he gave the floor, as in:
“[The President] is confident he will prevail onthemeritsofthecaseCatherine.”
Also noticeably gone from today’s briefing were the carnival-like Skype questions from local newscasters and talk-radio hosts that seemed more disruptive than informative.
“Very clearly McCarthy’s SNL [performance] really affected Sean,” CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger said when the briefing wrapped.
Today’s press briefing was being closely watched by political navel-lint gazers to see the degree to which McCarthy’s performance, and his boss’s reax, had gotten into Spicer’s head.
“It was cute. Funny,” Spicer had told Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade of McCarthy’s performance. He then immediately pivoted to say, “I’d rather be talking about the issues the president is so committed to helping Americans on.” Earlier, he told Extra good-naturedly that McCarthy “needs to slow down on the gum chewing. Way too many pieces in there.” Here, too, Spicer was careful to draw the reporters’ attention back to his boss, saying Baldwin’s impersonation of Trump was not funny but “mean” and enthused that Trump’s pre-Super Bowl interview with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly had gone “great.”
All-things-politics website Politico reported Monday night that Trump was “rattled” by the sketch – or, more accurately, by Spicer having been played by a woman. Citing unnamed sources, the site reported that the mere casting of a female in the role may have doomed Spicer, whose future as Trump’s press secretary had been in question since his very first formal White House press briefing, when he complained the media was “demoralizing” Trump with reports his inauguration crowd was not record setting, calling it part of a “negative…default narrative.” Trump was not impressed – particularly with Spicer’s grey suit.
Meanwhile, Rosie O’Donnell has volunteered to play Steve Bannon on SNL, though cast member Mikey Day has been playing Bannon, in a “Grim Reaper” outfit, to great effect.