Sean Spicer's 'Dancing with the Stars' casting criticized by host Tom Bergeron

“We can agree to disagree, as we do now, but ultimately it’s their call," Bergeron said of producers' decision to cast Spicer in the upcoming season.
Image: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Holds Daily Press Briefing
Then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer during the daily news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on May 12, 2017, in Washington.Win McNamee / Getty Images file

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By Janelle Griffith

Sean Spicer's casting in the upcoming season of "Dancing with the Stars" is prompting pushback — including from one of the show's hosts, Tom Bergeron.

Spicer, who resigned from his post as White House press secretary in 2017, was announced Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America" as one of the celebrities who will compete on season 28 of the reality show.

Athletes Lamar Odom and Ray Lewis, “Bachelorette” star Hannah Brown and supermodel Christie Brinkley are also among the celebrities who will lace up their dancing shoes.

Spicer’s casting was met with a fierce backlash on social media.

Bergeron, who has hosted the show since its inception in 2005, tweeted that he previously told producers he hoped that after a yearlong hiatus, the return of "Dancing with the Stars" would be a "joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of divisive bookings from any party affiliations."

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"Subsequently, (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, 'go in a different direction,'" Bergeron wrote, adding that it was the prerogative of the show's producers and ABC to make what decisions they deem best for the franchise.

“We can agree to disagree, as we do now, but ultimately it’s their call," he said. "I’ll leave it to them to answer any further questions about those decisions."

Andrew Llinares, the show's executive producer, said Wednesday: "We've got a great and diverse cast. We are excited about the decision."

Spicer did not immediately return requests for comment.

Spicer quit six months into President Donald Trump's presidency, after developing a contentious relationship with the press. In one of his earliest and most memorable press briefings, he claimed, without evidence, that Trump's inauguration "was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration period both in person and around the globe," after reports suggested the size of the crowd was smaller than at past inaugurations.

Bergeron wasn't the only person to condemn Spicer's casting. Charlotte Clymer, a spokeswoman for Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, said Spicer "belongs on a public blacklist, not in a waltz."

Clymer said Spicer "repeatedly lied, obfuscated and endorsed the badgering of a free press" and "enabled hatred" as press secretary.

Spicer's casting is not the first to spark a backlash.

Paula Deen, who was dropped by the Food Network in 2013 after she admitted to having used racial slurs to describe black people, was cast in season 21 of "Dancing with the Stars" two years later. Her addition to the show elicited criticism from some who believed ABC was helping the disgraced celebrity chef rehabilitate her image.

Swimmer Ryan Lochte competed on season 23 of the show while he was serving a 10-month suspension from domestic and international competitions. Lochte was suspended by the United States Olympic Committee and USA Swimming in 2016 after he was accused of fabricating a story that he and three of his American teammates had been held up at gunpoint by men who claimed to be Brazilian police officers during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero. Lochte later admitted that he "overexaggerated that story."

Lochte lost all of his major endorsement deals following the incident, including with Speedo and Ralph Lauren.

Despite the controversy of Tonya Harding's participation in season 26 of "Dancing with the Stars," the disgraced figure skater made it to the finals. She was defeated by Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon.