Sean Spicer: Mistakes, misspeaks and alternative facts

Saying Hitler had never used chemical weapons is the latest in a series of gaffes from the White House press secretary

Sean Spicer, US press secretary
White House press secretary Sean Spicer addresses journalists at the White House
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

White House press secretary Sean Spicer this week told a room full of journalists that even "someone as despicable as Hitler” did not sink to using chemical weapons - ignoring the fact that the Nazi leader gassed millions of Jews during World War II.

It was not the first time Donald Trump's bellicose aide has got into trouble with his words.

The 'facts' about those inauguration crowds

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One of Spicer's very first blunders was to claim that Trump's swearing-in ceremony had drawn the biggest live audience in history, despite visual evidence to the contrary. “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period!” he said.

Trump counsellor Kellyanne Conway later told NBC News her colleague had given out "alternative facts".

Remembering the Holocaust

When Trump was criticised for failing to mention Jews or anti-Semitism in a White House statement commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Spicer retaliated by saying his boss had "gone out of his way to recognise the Holocaust" and called critics "pathetic".

A tweet that goes beyond parody

Towards the end of January, Spicer enthusiastically retweeted an infographic by the satirical Onion website with the words: "You nailed it. Period!"

Entitled "Five things to know about Sean Spicer", the Onion's tweet actually stated that the press secretary's role was: "To provide the American public with robust and clearly articulated misinformation."

Atlanta's non-existent terror attack

In February, the White House had to correct Spicer's contention, made on three occasions, that there had been a terror attack in Atlanta.

An official said Spicer had meant to say Orlando, where 49 people were killed in a nightclub attack last June.

Meet the Canadian Prime Minister - Joe

Also in February, Spicer referred to "a productive set of meetings and discussions with Prime Minister Joe Trudeau of Canada", referring incorrectly to Justin Trudeau, Canada's political leader since 2015.

Days earlier, the press secretary had also referred to Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian premier, as "Prime Minister Trumble".

His trend of bungling his words has led to a video by GQ of Spicer's "alternative ABCs".

Watch this video on The Scene.

Flying the flag – upside down

In March, Spicer turned up to a press briefing wearing an upside-down American flag badge on his jacket. He made light of the error and fixed it, but the internet would not let the matter lie, remarking that in US government code, an inverted flag signals dire distress.

Whether or not, Spicer survives his latest slip-up, his combative persona and occasional inability to pronounce words have been a gift to satirists. Actor Melissa McCarthy's impersonations of him are by far the most watched videos on Saturday Night Live's YouTube channel.


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