Press Secretaries: Sympathy for the Devil


When I think about Sean Spicer, Ron Ziegler and Muhammed Saeed al-Sahhaf often pop into my mind. Melissa McCarthy does as well, but for different reasons.

Ziegler was Nixon’s press secretary. He loyally stood in front of the press defending Nixon to the end. Al-Sahhaf was Saddam Hussein’s information minister during the second Iraq war. If you don’t remember him, look up some video. It is amazing to watch him insist the Iraqi’s forces are brutally defeating the American “infidels” even when American tanks were rolling through Bagdad less than a mile from his location.

These guys are like the people who go in after a sewer backs up and clean up the mess. Every day, they are cleaning up septic waste. Some of Spicer’s actions are despicable – like barring legitimate news organizations from press conferences while letting in right-wing conspiracy bloggers, or holding difficult press conferences off camera, or even his general adversarial tone with the press. I am not letting him off the hook for that, I often don’t know whether to dislike these men, admire their super-human commitment to an awful job, or feel sorry for them. I guess I don’t have to pick. All three seem appropriate.