On Wednesday morning, ABC revealed the celebrities competing on Dancing with the Stars Season 28. The news was immediately met with furious backlash over the fact that Sean Spicer, Donald Trump's controversial first White House press secretary, would be one of the "stars" hitting the stage.
DWTS host Tom Bergeron added his voice to the conversation on Twitter, releasing a lengthy statement that hints at his frustration with the decision to cast Spicer.
"A few months ago, during a lunch with DWTS' new Executive Producer, I offered suggestions for Season 28. Chief among them 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 inevitably divisive bookings from ANY political affiliations. I left that lunch convinced we were in agreement," he wrote. "Subsequently (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, 'go in a different direction.'"
Bergeron allowed that it was the prerogative of the series' producers to make decisions based on what "they feel are the long term interests of the franchise." He added, "We can agree to disagree, as we do know, but ultimately it's their call."
The host concluded by urging viewers to tune in for the upcoming season, saying he takes seriously his responsibility to offer a "two hour escape" from life's hassles.
Some thoughts about today pic.twitter.com/aCQ4SHrGCI— Tom Bergeron (@Tom_Bergeron) August 21, 2019
Bergeron also appeared on SiriusXm's EW Live and added, "My preference — it's not my call, other people book the show — would have been to avoid any political lightning rods. I think dancing at its best is an oasis away from all the divisiveness and all of the stuff that we're all wrestling with right now. And that was a call they made, and my job as host, to the best of my abilities, is to be Switzerland for those two hours a week. For the other 166 hours a week, I'm pretty clear where I stand."
When asked for a comment on Bergeron's statements, TV Guide received the following statement from Dancing with the Stars executive producer Andrew Llinares: "We've got a great and diverse cast. We are excited about the season."
Spicer was one of the first Trump administration officials to cause public controversy, beginning the day after Trump's swearing-in ceremony, when Spicer claimed that Trump's inauguration crowd was the "largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," despite visual evidence to the contrary. Spicer's demonstrable lies put him at the center of several other major controversies throughout his tenure.
Rumors of his potential future on Dancing with the Stars have been swirling for years, but he reportedly turned down the opportunity to appear on Season 25. Of course, Spicer is no stranger to the entertainment realm; he was publicly keen on Melissa McCarthy's Saturday Night Live impressions of him and even attempted to lampoon himself on-stage at the 2017 Emmy Awards.
Dancing with the Stars Season 28 premieres on Monday, Sept. 16 at 8/7c on ABC.
This post was updated to include Bergeron's comments on SiriusXM as well as executive producer Andrew Llinares' statement.