NEW YORK — While Sean Spicer says he expects his old boss, President Donald Trump, to be re-elected, he doesn't view his new television talk show as a vehicle for helping accomplish that end.
Trump's first presidential press secretary launches “Spicer & Co.” Tuesday on the conservative cable network Newsmax TV. The show will air at 6 p.m. Eastern each weekday and his “company” includes co-host Lyndsay Keith.
Spicer said he won't pretend to be a journalist. But he said his goal is to produce informative discussions about the issues of the day that incorporate different viewpoints.
“I will obviously be a supporter of his,” Spicer said. “But the goal is not to make this show a vehicle for (his re-election) to happen.”
Similarly, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, while a noted friend of Trump, said he had more on his mind in hiring Spicer.
“We're playing the long game here,” Ruddy said. “We're building a network over the long haul and we expect Sean is going to be one of our rising stars.”
While the media didn't like the job Spicer did as press secretary — which began with an attempt to convince the public that the audience for Trump's inauguration was larger than it was — Ruddy said he believes Spicer connected with Americans in the heartland. To them, “he seemed very real and honest,” Ruddy said.
Spicer recalled his days at the Republican National Committee when he would have cable TV discussions with his Democratic counterpart. Despite the disagreements, he said many of the segments were substantive, and he hoped people with different points of view would be similarly be willing to test them out on “Spicer & Co.”
Spicer, who famously did a turn as a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars,” flirted with launching a television talk show in 2018. But he said it fell through due to creative differences with producers.
The idea of creating his own program was more attractive to him than what might have been more high-profile gigs as a commentator on other cable news networks, he said.
Newsmax is in roughly two-thirds of American television homes, but is dwarfed by Fox News Channel and its popularity with conservative viewers. Simulcasts of radio programs is a programming staple, but Newsmax is trying to build a stable of television personalities, too.
“The excitement of being part of something new really appealed to me,” Spicer said, “and the excitement of having a blank canvas. We can bring in new viewers and help build a network from the ground up.”
Starting on Super Tuesday gives Spicer a high-profile news night to begin, and also helps the nerves by giving him the chance to draw on his experience in political campaigns. He believes that his background in helping to run campaigns and then being steps away from the Oval Office gives him an advantage over many television talkers.
“I watch TV a lot and some guests I'll think to myself, ‘this person is giving their opinion, but I don’t know if it's based on any real experience,'” he said.
David Bauder, The Associated Press