Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer appeared on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Wednesday night, where he defended President Donald Trump's criticism of the mainstream news media.
Host Jimmy Kimmel asked Spicer—whose antagonistic interactions with the media became Internet gold—whether he agreed the majority of journalists are "decent people who are looking to get the truth and to write the truth."
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"I think probably the majority," Spicer said. "I always like to say that they would rather be first than right and I think that's unfortunate because it gives a bad name to those who actually do take the time to do it right."
Kimmel agreed with Spicer and said that there is a lot of that as people are just trying to get clicks. Spicer resigned as Trump's press secretary in July over protest of the appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.
"There is a line between and this is where I think a lot of journalists have crossed the line, which is they go on Twitter or another social media and start to perpetuate myths or make back and forth and say, ‘Well, that's not a story,'" Spicer said.
"Wait a minute, the journalists go on Twitter and perpetuate myths? What about the president?" Kimmel asked, as Spicer chuckled.
Spicer went on to say that it was frustrating that there were a lot of times when journalists "were literally creating a story out of whole cloth that didn't exist."
"But the president, it seems that what he calls ‘fake news' is really anything that criticizes him and then he'll give validity to whacky news sources sometimes because they are complimentary," Kimmel said. "Do you think that is a dangerous thing to delegitimize the press for America?"
"Look, I think it is a two-way street and when these guys in the press corps go after the president in ways that are unbecoming and again it's sort of like your what your mom said, ‘Two wrongs don't make a right,' and so I think sometimes when the press corps attacks the president, undermines him or calls into question his credibility from the outset, I think it creates a very poor relationship overall," he said.
Spicer then defended the idea of a free press and said that it is "paramount" to a democracy, but said that members of the media need to understand they have an "awesome responsibility" and must be truthful.
"They need to understand that when they cross the line or when a member of the press corps crosses the line that they have a responsibility to help hold that in and I have never seen a group of individuals who protect themselves like the press corps does, especially the White House press corps," Spicer said. "They've never once during my tenure and at least to my recollection ever called out someone who has crossed the line on a story."
Kimmel said he thinks that it is a terrible idea for the Trump administration to lump all media together as "fake news." Since Spicer and Kimmel are both Catholics, Kimmel used Catholicism as a comparison and said that he hates when people "lump all [Catholic] priests together as child abusers."
Spicer agreed and then talked about his 25 years in Washington listening to the media and Democrats lump all Republicans and conservatives into different categories.
"It's the press corps that also lumps all of us into the same bucket as well and says, ‘conservatives don't care about this' [or] ‘The Republicans are racists,'" Spicer said. "The press corps wants to attack Republicans, attack conservatives, undermine our attempt to have a constructive dialogue, and I think it's a two-way street, so if we don't want to lump every journalist into the same thing, then don't lump every Republican and every conservative into the same box."