While there was a lot to like about Sunday’s Emmy Awards — the total domination of Donald Glover, Elisabeth Moss finally getting that golden statue — one aspect managed to land with a controversial thunk. The trotting out of former White House Press Secretary and Melissa McCarthy muse Sean Spicer was met with mostly incredulity. Spicer himself appeared to be having a fine time at the event and the afterparties, but one can’t help but wonder why, after spending months lying to the American people and justifying white supremacists, was this man being given a redemption arc, albeit a mocking one?
According to Vulture, the seemingly complicit behavior was all in service of comedy and given the green light by host Stephen Colbert. A Colbert insider explained, “We had eyes wide open that … there would be people who thought we shouldn’t do it. There was no expectation everyone would love this.”
While Colbert has been vocally critical of President Trump and his administration, this production insider explained that he is first and foremost a comic looking for the best joke. According to the late night host, bringing Spicer himself out was the best way to achieve that. According to Vulture’s source, “We made him the joke. We made him the joke at the Emmy Awards… It was in service to a joke, and [Spicer] was the joke.”
While intent certainly matters, treating the behavior that Spicer exhibited while in the White House as something to laugh at can be dangerous. Still, people have managed to make better jokes out of even worse things, but at least those jokes were funny. While Colbert has yet to comment himself on the controversy, it’s safe to assume that it will be handled via opening monologue, if at all.