News & Politics

Newsmax Pulls Sean Spicer’s Application to the White House Correspondents’ Association

The move by Spicer's employer saves the WHCA from having to make a messy decision—for now.

Spicer in November 2017. Photograph by Evy Mages

The White House Correspondents’ Association was able to sidestep a messy decision regarding Sean Spicer’s membership application. It probably won’t be as lucky in the coming weeks and months.

Politico’s Playbook reported last week that Sean Spicer, the Trump mouthpiece turned cable-news host, had applied for membership in the WHCA. “I thought, why not?” Spicer told Playbook. “I cover the White House every day on the show, and I have obviously had a lot to say about the coverage of the White House and the Correspondents’ Association over the last few years. You’re never gonna effect change if you stay on the sidelines.”

The application, according to Playbook, triggered outrage, Spicer was considered “an unwanted headache at the WHCA.”

In the end, though, the controversy was resolved not by the White House Correspondents’ Association, but by Spicer’s employer, Newsmax. A representative for the far-right cable news channel told Playbook Tuesday that it had rescinded Spicer’s application.

“Newsmax already had two correspondents that work with the White House press corps,” the spokesman said. “Given the current limited seating for daily briefings, we are pleased with our current representation, and at this time, don’t see a need for additional personnel assigned there.”

The move by Newsmax saves the White House Correspondents’ Association from having to make the messy, politically charged decision. But there will no doubt be others in the future.
As Politico reported Monday, Eric Bolling, a Trump supplicant who left Fox News following allegations that he’d sent photos of male genitalia to coworkers and now hosts a show for Sinclair Broadcast Group, has already submitted his application for membership. And even less credible actors will surely follow.

These developments will force the White House Correspondents’ Association to confront the issue that will define the Washington media environment over the next four years: How do you balance the need to have diverse viewpoints represented in the White House press corps without becoming devoured by fringy activists looking only to carry out a political agenda?

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Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.