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The Host Of "Dancing With The Stars" Distanced Himself From Sean Spicer's Casting

Tom Bergeron said he had hoped the show would be free from politics. But that's not the case.

Last updated on August 22, 2019, at 9:38 a.m. ET

Posted on August 21, 2019, at 2:08 p.m. ET

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The longtime host of Dancing With the Stars is speaking out after ABC announced Wednesday that Sean Spicer β€” the former White House press secretary who repeatedly lied to Americans on behalf of the Trump administration β€” would be a contestant on the show's next season.

In what appeared to be a veiled critique of network executives' decision to cast Spicer, Tom Bergeron said in a statement Wednesday that he had tried to offer producers suggestions for the upcoming 28th season.

Jesse Grant

"Chief among them," Bergeron wrote, "was my hope that DWTS, in its return following an unprecedented year-long hiatus, would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitable divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations."

According to Bergeron, this discussion was held during a lunch with an unnamed executive, and he had left the meeting "convinced [they] were in agreement."

But with Spicer's inclusion in the upcoming season, it appears they were not thinking along the same lines.

"It is the prerogative of the producers, in partnership with the network, to make whatever decisions they feel are in the best long term interests of the franchise," Bergeron said. "We can agree to disagree, as we do now, but ultimately it's their call. I'll leave it to them to answer any further questions about those decisions."

Bergeron has hosted the long-running celebrity dancing show since its inception in 2005 β€” a responsibility he's shared with Erin Andrews since 2014.

Responding to BuzzFeed News' request for comment on Wednesday, Andrew Llinares, the show's new executive producer said, "We’ve got a great and diverse cast. We are excited about the season."

Spicer has mostly been blacklisted from the media following his White House exit. CNN and other news outlets have vowed to not hire him, and his surprise appearance at the 2017 Emmys was heavily criticized. (Late night host James Corden was also slammed for appearing to give Spicer a kiss on the cheek at the show.)

Now, Spicer's inclusion on the upcoming season of the series, which had taken a break from the air and has teased several "fun" changes to the format, has also been met with a chorus of disapproval.

.@seanspicer will compete on the new season of @DancingABC! #DWTS #DancingOnGMA https://t.co/iiWtUzxXl2

Online, critics blasted ABC's decision to help Spicer's redemption in the eyes of the American public.

Lion King star Billy Eichner said the situation was "so depressing."

The cynicism and carelessness it took to hire Sean Spicer... god it’s all just so depressing honestly.

"This is appalling," said digital strategist and author Luvvie Ajayi, who said the network shouldn't reward "dishonest" Spicer.

@GMA @seanspicer @DancingABC This is appalling. How about we don't reward the man who served as a mouthpiece of the worst modern administration by putting him on some dance show so he can twirl his dishonest ass on TV for pay?

Charlotte Clymer, press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, echoed a similar sentiment: "He belongs on a public blacklist, not in a waltz."

For 6 months, Sean Spicer served as White House Press Secretary to the most vile "president" in modern history. In that time, he repeatedly lied, obfuscated, and endorsed the badgering of a free press. He enabled hatred. He belongs on a public blacklist, not in a waltz. #DWTS

Many left-leaning critics were wary of Spicer's "redemption tour."

@GMA @DancingABC Extremely not here for the @seanspicer redemption tour

I will never think it’s an amusing diversion for Sean Spicer to be on Dancing with the Stars. He defended and lied about amoral, monstrous if not criminal policies and actions. Way to launder amorality, ABC. Gross.

Remember when Spicer talked about 'Holocaust centers' and defended Hitler, saying he didn't use chemical weapons? That should have had actual repercussions. And should now too. https://t.co/jDWSTX8OdR

Look at America normalizing and rewarding racists and liars. https://t.co/BOKAMNjsIf

Despite his apparent criticism of the network's decision, Bergeron was not left off the hook. Some accused the show's longtime presenter of "normalizing this insanity" by continuing to host the program.

@Tom_Bergeron Nope. You're choosing to be part of "normalizing" this insanity, so nope.

Comedian Matt Rogers, cohost of the Las Culturistas podcast, said Bergeron was "in the financial position to make a real statement by walking away, and [he] would do so with [his] dignity and integrity."

@Tom_Bergeron You are in the financial position to make a real statement by walking away, and you would do so with your dignity and integrity. You're a talented host, you would get another job. You HAVE other jobs.

Representatives for Bergeron told BuzzFeed News that host had no further comment.

During the cast announcement on Good Morning America on Wednesday, Bergeron teased that Spicer was be in charge of counting the audience crowd size β€” a reference to his infamous lie about the attendance at President Trump's inauguration. After first tweeting the clip of Bergeron's joke, the official GMA account subsequently deleted its post.

The latest drama with Spicer and DWTS continues ABC's seemingly unending proclivity for political controversy. In the last year or so, the network has dealt with Roseanne Barr's racism and its ultimate decision to oust her from the revival of her eponymous show (which later brought back with a new name, The Conners). This is in addition to ABC choosing to not air an episode of Black-ish β€” which apparently addressed the issue of NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem β€” because of "creative differences."

Dancing With the Stars returns next month. Will you be watching?

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