MSNBC host to Sean Spicer on Sanders’ exit: ‘Do you regret setting that precedent for dishonesty’?

Sean Spicer accused an MSNBC host of leveling a “loaded question” at him in a testy interview about outgoing press secretary Sarah Sanders.

The former White House press secretary dismissed Hallie Jackson’s accusation that he helped the Trump administration in “setting the precedent for dishonesty” when he was asked to weigh in on Sanders’ legacy as his successor on MSNBC Friday.

(Video: MSNBC)

“Sarah Sanders has acknowledged she did not always tell the truth to reporters. So, let me ask you, do you regret setting that precedent for dishonesty when you were at the podium?” Jackson asked Spicer on “MSNBC Live” Friday.

When Spicer responded “no,” chuckling over the inane question, Jackson interjected, “No? None? Not at all?”

“None of the little things that you said weren’t true, you regret none of them?” she pressed.

“No, I didn’t say that,” Spicer shot back, angry at her question. “You said, do you regret setting the precedent. Did I make mistakes, Hallie? Of course I did, and when I did, I tried my best to make up for those. I’ve said that there are times when  I should have done a better job.”

He was far from done.

“There are times when I hope to God that you look back on some of your shows and some of your questions, and say wow, I wasn’t the best reporter I could have been,” Spicer continued. “I clearly made mistakes. But do I think I ever engaged in anything that wasn’t the best that I could do at the time? No.”

But Jackson had her teeth sunk in and would not let go of the narrative she was pushing, reminding Spicer that he was the one who hired Sanders and brought her in to the White House.

“Were you or not setting a precedent for the tone and behavior that a press secretary should hold?” Jackson asked again.

“That’s a pretty loaded question,” Spicer fired back. “There were days that I look back and – for lack of a better word – took the bait and think I could have been a better person and communicator and represented the president better.”

“Every day we would talk about that. What we could have done as a team better and what I could have done and I hope that I set an example that said we are there on behalf of the American people to represent this administration and do the best job that we can every day,” he continued.

“Did we make mistakes? Yeah. But, look, I gotta be honest. To say, to make that kind of a loaded thing, that is a pretty loaded charge to make, Hallie. I admit I made mistakes,” Spicer said, shutting down Jackson’s line of questioning.

“To suggest in any way that I set a precedent is pretty far of a stretch,’ he said.

Spicer schooled the MSNBC host again as she went on to ask if there was even any need for a Trump administration press secretary, “knowing this president and how he is and knowing he is his own communicator.”

“I think for people who ask that question, they lack the understanding of the role,” Spicer countered.

“You and your colleagues know very well a lot of logistical things that go on and a lot of information flow, access and coordination with other government officials that takes place whether it’s the White House or throughout the administration. So, to suggest that the press secretary’s only job is to get up on camera and speak is a pretty naive view of the role,” he added.

When asked if he would consider returning to his old job as White House press secretary, which he resigned in July 2017, Spicer was pretty clear.

“Would I go back?” he asked. “No, no, no. I told the president many times I was honored to do it, but I am much more happy and relaxed and less stressful now.”

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Frieda Powers

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