Media

Commentary: Sean Spicer isn't 'racist' or 'sexist' for telling a reporter to stop shaking her head

White House press secretary Sean Spicer — and just about anyone serving in the Trump administration for that matter — could care less about the gender or race of the people they insult.\n(Image source: YouTube screen cap)

Yesterday, liberals just about lost their minds, after White House press secretary Sean Spicer told a black, female reporter to "stop shaking her head." According to countless liberal talking heads, this constituted irrefutable evidence that Spicer was "racist" and "sexist."

Veteran White House reporter, April Ryan, who works for Urban Radio Networks, asked Spicer at Tuesday's White House press briefing how the administration planned to "revamp" its image in light of recent stories, including a Washington Post article saying the White House blocked ousted acting deputy attorney general Sally Yates from testifying to Congress over alleged Russia ties to then-candidate Donald Trump's campaign.

"With all of these investigations, with all of these questions of what is, is, how does this administration try to revamp its image, two and a half months in," Ryan asked Spicer. "You've got the Washington Post story today, you've got Russia, you've got wiretapping —"

Spicer cut in: "No, we don't 'have' that...You've got Russia."

Ryan raised her eyebrow at the newly minted spokesman's provocation.

"If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection," Spicer quipped.

"At some point, report the facts. The facts are that every single person who has been briefed on this subject has come away with the same conclusion — Republican, Democrat. I'm sorry that that disgusts you," Spicer said.

"You're shaking your head, Spicer observed of Ryan.

Spicer didn't stop there. He went on to tell Ryan that "at some point ... you're going to have to take 'no' for an answer."

That's when Ryan tried to interject, but Spicer told her to "hold on."

"It seems like you’re hell-bent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays," Spicer said.

A split-screen of Spicer and Ryan showed the veteran Washington reporter again shaking her head. Again, Spicer noticed the nonverbal cue.

"I’m sorry, please stop shaking your head again," Spicer said.

Spicer's "stop shaking your head" comment unleashed a wave of backlash among social media users, politicians, and cable news pundits, many of whom referred to the remark as  "racist" and "sexist."

Here's just a small sampling of some the negative tweets:

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton also weighed in while delivering a speech in California. In the speech, Clinton specifically mentioned Ryan, along with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) who was mocked Tuesday by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly for her "James Brown hair."

"Too many women, especially women of color, have had a lifetime of practice, taking precisely these kinds of indignities in stride," Clinton said.

Let's be clear about one thing: In no way, shape, or form am I dismissing or belittling the very real struggle of women and minorities in this country throughout its history. What I am saying is that the liberal, knee-jerk reaction to label anyone who disagrees with a woman or a minority individual as "sexist" or "racist" is, at best, misinformed, and at worst, intentionally divisive.

Spicer has served in his current position for just more than two months, but in the relatively short time span, he has already had plenty of cut-throat exchanges with reporters. This type of brash, no-holds-barred approach shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone considering the unique personality of Spicer's boss: President Donald Trump.

If one pays any attention to the hours upon hours of White House press briefings so far during the Trump administration, they quickly see that Ryan is in good company when being treated like a child during televised briefings. In fact, just recently, Spicer told ABC News' Jonathan Karl, a white male, to "calm down" as Karl kept pressing for answers. I don't recall anyone calling Spicer "racist" or "sexist" then.

I can only imagine the comments there would have been had Spicer told a female reporter, especially a black female reporter, the same thing.

But I digress.

Let's not forget the time Spicer accused CNN reporter Jim Acosta of being "cute." And that other time when Spicer accused Karl of the same.

Then, just over the weekend, Politico reporter Tara Palmeri tweeted in the wake of the Republicans' failure to garner enough votes to pass the American Health Care Act, that a "source close to @POTUS says he is being advised to replace @Reince45 [White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus] and is open to possibility — health care was last straw."

Spicer took issue with what he said was a false report, calling Palmeri "an idiot with no real sources."

The point is, Spicer — and just about anyone serving in the Trump administration for that matter — could care less about the gender or race of the people they insult. What this administration does care about is detracting attention from the real stories of the day by creating these relatively minor and unimportant media spectacles.

Love it or hate it, it's a trick that has worked for Trump since he first announced his bid for the presidency in June 2015. And, thanks to many of the same reporters who often criticize Trump and his administration for their distractions, these types of tactful diversions will continue.

One last thing…
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