Sean Spicer joins 'Dancing with the Stars': Tom Bergeron is not happy, calls the move 'divisive'
The show's host has spoken out against the casting of Donald Trump's former press secretary
The contestants for the 2019 edition of Dancing with the Stars have been announced, and the inclusion of President Donald Trump's former press secretary Sean Spicer has sparked controversy.
I hoped the show would be a joyful respite from the exhausting political climate, free of divisive bookings from any party affiliations
The announcement was made on Good Morning America on Wednesday August 21, when Spicer stepped out behind a podium in a moment that harked back to his White House days.
At the moment of the announcement, the reality show's host Tom Bergeron seemed to have reservations about the casting, quipping, "the nice thing is Sean will be in charge of assessing audience size," referencing Trump's inauguration, when Spicer claimed the crowd was the "largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe."
Bergeron then took to Twitter to express his deep concern about the former press secretary's involvement in the show. When offering suggestions for season 28 of the long-running series, he said that he hoped the show "would be a joyful respite from [the] exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from any party affiliations." Adding, "I left that lunch convinced we were in agreement."
"Subsequently, a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, 'to go in a different direction'," he went on to say. Concluding with, "I'll leave it to [producers] to answer any further questions about those decisions."
Unnamed ABC News staff members have also told Reliable Sources's Brian Stelter that they are "up in arms" over the casting of Spicer, describing it as a "slap in the face".
One staffer added, "It's disgusting to think he is getting on the show and getting paid by our company."
Who else is appearing on season 28 of Dancing with the Stars?
The 2019 DWTS line-up includes The Bachelorette star Hannah Brown; former NBA player and Khloe Kardashian's ex Lamar Odom; Dawson's Creek actor James Van Der Beek; comedian Kel Mitchell; country music singer Lauren Alaina; ex-former Fifth Harmony member Ally Brooke; model Christie Brinkley; former NFL star Ray Lewis, The Office actress Kate Flannery and The Supremes' Mary Wilson.
Also in the line-up is Queer Eye's Karamo Brown, who was asked about the casting of Spicer, and said he was "a good guy, a really sweet guy".
"I was most excited to meet him, because people would look at us and think we are polar opposites," Brown told Access Hollywood, "but I am 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 grow. So we have been chatting all day today, he is a good guy, a really sweet guy."
The short clip has attracted backlash on Twitter, with critics calling for Brown to be "cancelled", the 2019 way of disagreeing with an individual, with one writing, "After all his participation in this administration ... Sean Spicer does not get a redemption arc, Karamo."
A second added, "I'm officially starting the petition to replace Karamo Brown on Queer Eye with Billy Porter. I’d much rather listen to Billy build people up and help them be more confident in their own skin."
Controversial contestants of the past
Spicer isn't the first contentious political Dancing with the Stars contestant. Current United States Secretary of Energy and former Govenor of Texas, Rick Perry, appeared on the 23rd season of the show in 2016.
Other political figures to have featured are Bristol Palin, reality show regular and the daughter of former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin; political commentator, Tucker Carlson, and "divisive" Republican Tom DeLay, who was convicted of money-laundering in an election in 2010. DeLay appeared on the show in 2009.
Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr was in the line-up for the 2007 competition despite a string of battery charges. Predating his stint on the show, he was charged with domestic violence and sentenced to two days of house arrest and 48 hours of community service in 2002; he was charged with battery against two women and given a one-year suspended sentence in 2004.
In 2005 he was given a further 90-day suspended sentence after he was charged for "hitting and kicking a bouncer".
Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte appeared on the 2016 season of the show, following charges of making false claims of a robbery during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Lochte and teammate Jimmy Feigen claimed they were robbed at gunpoint, he has since admitted her was under the influence of alcohol at the time and "over-exaggerated that story".
Updated: August 22, 2019 11:17 AM