Donald Trump’s former press secretary Sean Spicer has complained that the Washington press corps treat his successor under Joe Biden more kindly.
“I walked into the lion’s den every day – she walks into a bunch of kittens,” Spicer told the New York Times, referring to Jen Psaki, the subject of a lengthy and admiring profile.
Spicer also bemoaned a recent barb from the White House podium.
Earlier this month, Psaki was asked if Spicer and former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway had been qualified for roles on service academy advisory boards from which Biden fired them.
Spicer, now a host on the conservative Newsmax network, was named by Donald Trump to the advisory board for the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. He is a commander in the US naval reserve.
Psaki said: “I will let others evaluate whether they think Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer and others were qualified or not political [appointments] to serve on these boards.”
Spicer told the Times: “Jen chose to stand and question my qualifications and services to this country. Once she did that, the gloves were off.”
As Trump’s first press secretary, Spicer had a combative relationship with the press from the moment he angrily insisted Trump’s inauguration crowd was far larger than evidence showed.
He was widely mocked, to the point of being played by Melissa McCarthy on Saturday Night Live.
Spicer resigned in July 2017, amid farcical scenes arising from the appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. The Wall Street investor followed Spicer out of the door just 10 days later.
Spicer’s successors, Sarah Sanders, Stephanie Grisham and Kayleigh McEnany, presided over an adversarial relationship with much of the Washington media.
Spicer has stayed loyal to Trump, publishing a book in which he called the 45th president “a unicorn, riding a unicorn over a rainbow”. Grisham’s book, due out next month, is eagerly awaited, stirring controversy over her work for the former president and the former first lady Melania Trump. Sanders is running for governor in Arkansas.
The Times also quoted Peter Doocy of Fox News, a briefing room foil who the paper said “expressed respect for Ms Psaki’s professionalism and good humor”.
“It never feels like I’m getting smacked down or vice versa,” Doocy said. “I understand why it looks like that, some of the ways that stuff gets clipped, but it doesn’t feel like that in the room.”
Psaki did not comment. The Times, however, noted that in April 2017, when Spicer was under fire for remarks including referring to concentration camps as “Holocaust centres”, she told CNN: “It’s a really tough job. Everybody screws up.”