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ABC’s announcement that its newest “Dancing With the Stars” cast will feature Sean Spicer, former press secretary for Donald Trump and frequent punchline, got immediate heat. The show’s tweet sharing the news was immediately flooded with derision and calls for reconsideration given the fact that Spicer gained his modicum of fame from defending some of the president’s most toxic policies and spreading pernicious lies in the process. The backlash got so immediately bad that even host Tom Bergeron felt compelled to say something, though his statement professing that he had nothing to do with the casting failed to mention Spicer by name and ended on a “why can’t we all just get along?” sentiment that missed the point of the protestations entirely.
That reaction, overwhelmingly negative though it may be, is exactly why “Dancing With the Stars” cast Spicer in the first place. Even if viewers don’t stick with Spicer week to week (and who knows how long he’ll actually last), there will inevitably be a burst of initial curiosity to boost the premiere ratings. The number of headlines surrounding his mere casting — yes, including this one — guarantee an outsized amount of interest in a season whose biggest cast members otherwise include James Van Der Beek and a Bachelorette. To give the producers an extraordinary benefit of the doubt, they may be a little confused about why Spicer’s any different from other controversial figures they’ve included before, most notably Tucker Carlson (albeit in his less odious 2006 iteration) and Bristol Palin (twice). The crucial difference that they and Bergeron (whose statement spoke vaguely of not wanting the show to indulge in...
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