Outgoing White House press secretary Sean Spicer told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in an interview Friday that President Donald Trump didn’t want him to quit. Spicer also scorned his portrayal on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” as “malicious.”
Spicer said his departure was entirely his decision, according to a partial transcript of the interview shared by a Fox producer.
“He’s been very gracious throughout this process,” Spicer said of Trump. “He wanted to bring some new folks in to help rev up the communications operation, and, after reflection, my decision was to recommend to the president that I give Anthony [Scaramucci] and Sarah [Huckabee Sanders] a clean slate to start from.” Scaramucci is the newly named communications director and Sanders takes over as press secretary.
Spicer also agreed with Hannity’s suggestion that there is media bias in coverage of the federal investigation into Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign, which Hannity called the media’s “obsession.”
Spicer added that there is also a “Washington mentality” and “pack mentality” among reporters in the White House briefing room and suggested that the mainstream media doesn’t cover issues that are important to “everyday Americans.”
“The questions and the issues that are of concern to everyday Americans are not nearly what they are for the folks, the pack mentality that exists in the briefing room at the White House, for those that get trapped in the Washington, D.C., media bubble,” Spicer told Hannity.
He cited that as the reason the Trump administration has invited “new voices,” referring to reporters from smaller media outlets, to participate in White House briefings, including “some talk-radio show hosts.”
Trump offered praise for Spicer on Friday afternoon.
“I am grateful for Sean’s work on behalf of my administration and the American people,” the president said in a statement. “I wish him continued success as he moves on to pursue new opportunities. Just look at his great television ratings.”
White House rumblings have for months suggested that Trump was looking to remove Spicer from his high-profile role. The president was reportedly unhappy with Spicer’s performance early in the administration, and was said to have spoken to Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle in May about taking Spicer’s job.
Hannity also asked Spicer about comedian Melissa McCarthy’s depiction of him on “SNL.”
“I think that there were parts of it that were funny, but there’s a lot of it that was over the line,” Spicer said of the Emmy-nominated impersonation. “It wasn’t funny. It was stupid, or silly, or malicious.”
“Some of the memes you have to crack up about,” he continued. “But sometimes it goes from funny to mean.”
Priebus said he expects Spicer to remain close to the president.
“Sean leaving doesn’t mean that Sean isn’t going to be out there supporting President Trump, and it doesn’t mean that President Trump isn’t going to be out there supporting Sean Spicer,” Priebus said.
This story was updated with more quotes from Spicer’s interview with Hannity.