As soon as ABC revealed its crop of new contestants Wednesday morning, many fans of the competition series took issue with seeing former White House press secretary Sean Spicer's name on the roster. Many more were appalled that his co-star, Karamo Brown of "Queer Eye" fame, would stick up for him.
"This is an opportunity to have some fun," Spicer, 47, told Mediaite Wednesday night in response to a New York Times article by TV critic James Poniewozik, criticizing his casting. "I've never really cared what they think. I'm not going to care now."
"He presupposes that's what I want," Spicer went on. "First of all I don't really care what he wants or what the New York Times wants. I'm going out and having some fun. I'm going to enjoy myself, and if more people like me, then that's great. I'm very happy with who I am. I'm very happy with the friends that I have. The idea that I need this to make myself feel better is preposterous. I'm in this because I enjoy it. I'm very comfortable with who I am, what I believe and who I support, and that's it."
But the criticism isn't just coming from fans or the media; some of it is coming from within ABC. "DWTS" host Tom Bergeron issued a lengthy statement Wednesday, indirectly protesting Spicer's inclusion in the cast. He said he wished Season 28 would have been able to provide "a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate."
Bergeron described how he met with the show's new executive producer, Andrew Llinares, to make his feelings known. Leaving the conversation, Bergeron said he was "convinced we were in agreement."
"Subsequently (and rather obviously)," he wrote, "a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, 'go in a different direction.'"
"We can all agree to disagree, as we do now, but ultimately it's their call," he continued. "I'll leave it to them to answer any further questions about those decisions."
Making a pledge to the show's fans, he added, "For me, as host, I always gaze into the camera's lens and imagine you on the other side, looking for a two-hour escape from whatever life hassles you've been wrestling with. That's a connection and a responsibility which I take very seriously, even if I occasionally season it with dad jokes."
When asked about Bergeron's comments, Spicer told Mediaite, "Tom's been a great host for 28 seasons. My hope is that he sees how bringing diverse group of people can help instill a greater degree of stability and respect among people in this country."
"My overall hope is that at the end of this season that Tom looks at this and says, bringing people together of very diverse backgrounds, whether it's in politics or other areas, and allowing them to show America how we can engage in a really respectful and civil way, is actually a way to help bring the country together as opposed to bring it apart," he added.
Karamo Brown, 28, who was also cast for Season 28, came to Spicer's defense after someone on Twitter said they were "disappointed" that the pro-LGBTQ+ reality star would allow his name to be in connection with anything having to do with the Trump administration.
"First, I have no say who is on the cast and didn't find out till this morning that he is on!" Brown tweeted back. "But I'll tell you this... I'm excited to sit down w/ him and engage in a respectful conversation. Only way things get better is if we try to educate those who have different POV than us."
First, I have no say who is on the cast and didn't find out till this morning that he is on! But I'll tell you this... I'm excited to sit down w/ him and engage in a respectful conversations. Only way things get better is if we try to educate those who have different POV than us.
In an interview with Access Hollywood, also from Wednesday night, Brown offered up the information that he and Spicer had "been talking."
"I was most excited to meet him," he gushed. "The thing is that people would look at us and think that we're polar opposites, but I'm a big believer that if you can talk to someone and meet in the middle, you can learn about each other and help each other both grow."
"And so we have been chatting all day today," he added. "Like, he's a good guy. Really sweet guy."