Speed Reads

Quotables

Watch Sean Spicer verbally fumble his way through an apology for his Hitler and Holocaust blunder

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer went way off-script at Tuesday's press briefing, suggesting that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler wasn't as bad as Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and had not used chemical weapons or gassed "his own people," among other offensive and ahistorical flubs.

Spicer tried to be relentlessly on-message when he went on CNN to apologize Tuesday evening. "Frankly, I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which, frankly, there is no comparison," Spicer told Wolf Blitzer. "And for that I apologize. It was a mistake to do that." Blitzer asked him who, specifically, he was apologizing to, and Spicer said "anybody who not just how suffered in the Holocaust or is a descendent of anybody but frankly, anyone who was offended by those comments." The apology went on in that vein for 4 minutes, until Blitzer said, "I think it's very important that you came out to formally apologize," and moved on to Syria.

But the long apology had its share of malapropisms and head-scratchers, too. "I'm not going to try to quantify it, Wolf, it was a mistake," Spicer said at one point, apparently meaning "qualify." At another point he said "the intelligence community continues to evolve the situation on the ground." And he said he felt it necessary to come on TV to apologize "to make sure that I clarified and was not in any way shape or form any more of a distraction from the president's decisive action in Syria and the attempts that he's making to destabilize the region" — which would probably be news to Trump.

Blitzer ended by noting that this wasn't Spicer's first blunder at the lectern. "Are you worried, Sean, that you have a credibility problem right now?" he asked. "No, I think this is why I'm here right now, Wolf," Spicer said. It's not clear if the subtle dig at CNN was intentional or just a lucky mistake.