It’s been a tough few days for White House press secretary and Barrington native Sean Spicer.
— Melissa McCarthy spoofed him on Saturday Night Live — ramming reporters with a podium after slapping a big wad of chewed up gum on top of it. (Cinnamon Orbit is a favorite with Spicer, apparently.)
— On Monday he attacked The New York Times for “blatant factual errors” in a piece on President Trump. One such glaring mistake was a description of the president’s loungewear: “I don’t think the president wears a bathrobe, and definitely doesn’t own one,” Spicer insisted to the press.
— CNN reported Wednesday that Trump is “disappointed” with Spicer’s performance and is ramping up the search for his replacement as communications director. (Spicer is now working as both the press secretary and communications director).
But lucky for Spicer, his fans in Rhode Island and beyond are standing by their man.
The contentious first press conference, where Spicer came out swinging, attacking the press corps over their reports on inauguration crowd size shocked some.
But it tickled his Portsmouth Abbey history teacher and mentor Clifford Hobbins.
Watching his television set in Portsmouth, Hobbins said he shouted at the screen: “Excellent Sean! Give it to them!”
“It’s the only way to go,” said Hobbins of Spicer’s combative attitude in his new job. “Or else they’re going to run you over.”
Spicer’s use of what Kellyanne Conaway later dubbed “alternative facts” launched a thousand memes, op-eds, and think pieces.
The performance also stoked a sense of pride in Brandon Bell, a friend of Spicer’s and the chairman of the Rhode Island GOP. He said Spicer is “spectacular.”
“He’s got an unconventional boss,” said Bell. “But he’s doing a good job. I don’t think for a minute the president could be unhappy with that job.”
Bell praised Spicer’s communications skills, noting that the press has been “unusually tough on him.”
“He did a really good job explaining all of those executive orders,” Bell said. “He’s always on his toes.”
Mike Pappas, a former New Jersey representative for whom Spicer worked in the 1990s, said Spicer was “born to be a press secretary.”
“He’s a very gifted, very talented gentleman,” said Pappas. “From the moment I met him I was impressed with his ability to convey information in a very clear and concise manner.”
And, Hobbins calls him a “superstar.”
Any criticism “is nonsense on stilts, absolute rubbish,” said Hobbins, and likely coming from a disgruntled member of the media.
“He is one of the most honest, forthright, forthcoming individuals I’ve ever known or taught,” he said.
A Boston Globe article listed advice Spicer gave to Portsmouth Abbey students during a visit to the campus.
“Perception is reality,” ranked at number 9.
By: Jacqueline Tempera, 11 February 2017, Providence Journal, http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20170211/white-house-press-secretary-spicer-is-at-center-of-trump-tempest