The former White House press secretary's casting sparked backlash and outrage on Wednesday
“I’m going out and having some fun,” the former White House press secretary, 47, told Mediaite on Wednesday evening in response to a New York Times piece that criticized his casting. “I’m going to enjoy myself, and if more people like me, then that’s great.”
“I’m very happy with who I am,” Spicer added. “I’m very happy with the friends that I have.”
“The idea that I need this to make myself feel better is preposterous. I’m in this because I enjoy it. I’m very comfortable with who I am, what I believe and who I support, and that’s it,” he continued to Mediaite.
Spicer’s casting was also seemingly criticized by DWTS host Tom Bergeron, who posted a lengthy message to Twitter after the cast reveal on Wednesday, explaining that he’d hoped this season would be “a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate.” Bergeron never specifically referenced Spicer in his note.
“Tom’s been a great host for 28 seasons,” Spicer told Mediaite when asked about Bergeron’s comments. “My hope is that he sees how bringing diverse group of people can help instill a greater degree of stability and respect among people in this country.”
“My overall hope is that at the end of this season that Tom looks at this and says, bringing people together of very diverse backgrounds — whether it’s in politics or other areas — and allowing them to show America how we can engage in a really respectful and civil way, is actually a way to help bring the country together as opposed to bring it apart,” Spicer continued to the outlet.
In his Twitter message, Bergeron, 64, revealed that he met with the DWTS executive producers several months ago and tried to steer the show away from politics.
“Subsequently (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, ‘go in a different direction,’ ” the TV host said.
Bergeron echoed his feelings on Spicer while speaking to Sirius XM’s Entertainment Weekly Live on Wednesday. Calling him a “political lightning rod,” Bergeron explained his “preference” was for Spicer to not have been cast.
“Dancing, at its best, is an oasis, away from all the divisiveness and all the stuff we are wrestling with right now,” the host said. “And so, that was a call they made, and my job as host, to the best of my ability, is to be Switzerland for those two hours a week.”
Despite backlash from fans on social media, at least one of Spicer’s castmates appears to be standing by him.
“Only way things get better is if we try to educate those who have different POV than us,” he added in the tweet.
The cast was announced during Wednesday’s episode of Good Morning America, and already, Bergeron couldn’t help but poke fun at his new costar.
“The nice thing is Sean will be in charge of assessing audience size,” Bergeron joked to Spicer on the morning show. (Spicer famously came under fire for lying about the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration, claiming, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”)
Spicer and Brown will be joining The Supremes’ Mary Wilson, The Bachelorette‘s Hannah Brown, supermodel Christie Brinkley, country star Lauren Alaina, actor James Van Der Beek, NFL legend Ray Lewis, The Office star Kate Flannery, pop star Ally Brooke, former basketball player Lamar Odom, and comedian/actor Kel Mitchell in the ballroom this season.
Season 28 of Dancing with the Stars premieres Sept. 16 on ABC.