He danced a salsa with professional Lindsay Arnold to the Spice Girls “Spice Up Your Life,” and while he earned some respect for the judges for being game to doing the show, they scored near the bottom of all of the contestants, scoring 12 out of 30.
“I started off at minus ten,” Spicer said afterward, standing next to Arnold. “She has been a phenomenal coach.”
His segment started with him playing the bongos before he went in to the dance moves with Arnold, but it failed to impress the judges. They did give him credit for trying.
“I have to say it was strangely entertaining,” said judge Bruno Tonioli, who otherwise said that “there were some elements of salsa there.”
Carrie Ann Inaba said he had the “best fluorescent shimmy of the night,” while Len Goodman said he brought “fun to the ballroom.”
That wasn’t the reaction that others have had.
The show is known for casting those well versed in the fame game, but Spicer’s selection is in a new genre for the show — former Trump administration figure. As such, it generated an extra dose of controversy due to his tenure as Trump’s loyal flack, in which he sparred with the press over crowd sizes and defended his boss’s attacks on the “fake news media.”
When he made a surprise appearance on the Emmy Awards in 2017, many in the audience laughed, but many in the White House press corps didn’t find it all that funny. News networks did not hire him as a special commentator, but he did get a gig as a special correspondent on “Extra.”
His DWTS debut also generated strong reactions. “Maybe we’re all in Sean’s nightmare,” tweeted Jon Lovett, the former Obama administration speechwriter and PodSaveAmerica host.
Shortly after Spicer was announced as a Dancing With The Stars contestant, host Tom Bergeron criticized the move. He said that he suggested to the producers that the show be a “joyful respite from our exhaustive political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations.” But he said that they decided to go in a different direction and “we can agree to disagree, as we do now, but ultimately it’s their call.”
Others grumbled that they weren’t keen on a show that could help rehabilitate Spicer’s image.
Some executive producers from ABC shows, including Krista Vernoff from Grey’s Anatomy and Tim Doyle of Schooled, also expressed their disdain for the decision to cast Spicer. For a while, an effort to boycott the network trended on Twitter, but that dissipated.
Arnold alluded to the controversy when, in a taped segment about her practice sessions with Spicer, she said, “I am looking forward to forming my own opinion.”
Spicer, however, said in pre-show interviews that he thought that the DWTS appearance would be a way to show how political differences could be set aside in the name of a dance contest. The show aired clips of some of his contentious moments sparring with reporters, and he said in an interview for the segment, “I think [his time in the briefing room] gave people a one dimensional look at who I am as a person.”
Spicer said that his forays in the White House briefing room could be “daunting,” but they were “nothing compared to dancing on national TV.”
In appearing on the show, Spicer was following in the footsteps of his former boss’s ex-wife, Marla Maples, the current Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Trump Fox News favorite Tucker Carlson.
Political figures — are contestants with a degree or two of separation from divisive figures — have a pretty spotty record when it comes to the show. Carlson, Maples and Perry were eliminated fairly early. The only contender with a political connection to place was Bristol Palin, who finished third in 2010.
Spicer appeared in the opening of the show, when a question was posed to contestants to describe their biggest weakness.
“Have you seen my Twitter feed?” Spicer asked.
Earlier in the day, he wrote on that feed of his appearance on the show, “Treat this like looking at an eclipse with a dot poked in a piece of paper.”