Sean Spicer was asked to condemn a hate crime and managed to screw it up

During Monday’s daily White House press briefing, American Urban Radio correspondent April Ryan asked press secretary Sean Spicer to comment on last week’s hate crime resulting in the murder of 66-year-old Timothy Caughman.

“This gentleman in his jailhouse,” Ryan said, referring to 28-year-old James Harris Jackson, who confessed to stabbing Caughman, “gave a statement to a reporter talking about how he wishes the man were younger and that he was a thug, that he killed. So, what do you say to this? It’s clear this is racism at its ugliest.”

This would have been a great opportunity for Spicer to condemn a sick crime where a white supremacist was literally hunting black people. Did he do that? Not exactly. “Two issues,” said Spicer, “Number one, I think hate crimes, anti-Semitic crimes, should be called out in the most reprehensible way. There is no room for that in our country.”

Okay, so far so good.

“At the opening of [the president’s] joint address, that’s what he led with, a call to denounce hate,” said Spicer. He should have stopped there. But, alas, he continued.

“I think that there’s one other piece to this, April. While we unequivocally, no doubt about it, need to call out hate, anti-Semitism where it exists, where’s another thing we have to do. And in your case in particular, I don’t know all of the details, so I don’t want to reference any specific case. But I think we saw this the other day with some of the anti-Semitic behavior that was going out in respect to people of the Jewish faith… we saw these threats coming in to Jewish community centers and there was an immediate jump to criticize folks on the right and to denounce people on the right. And it turns out, it wasn’t someone on the right. And the president said from the get-go ‘I bet it’s not someone from the right’ and he was right.”

At this point, Ryan rightly cuts in to clarify that she’s specifically talking about white supremacy and in doing so, tries to save Spicer from himself. The press secretary, however, was determined to follow through on this pivot to discuss how members of the GOP are the real victims when it comes to hate crimes.

“In those cases, there’s no question, black and white, we need to call out all instances of this, but that being said,” Spicer said, determined to dig his grave deeper, “while we’re on the topic, I do think there has been a rush to judgment in a lot of other cases, in particular, the anti-Semitic discussion where people have jumped to the conclusion of denouncing people on the right. In that particular case, we saw that the president was right and this rush to judgment by a lot of folks on the left was wrong and none of them have been held to account on that.”

Spicer was referring to the 19-year-old Israeli who was arrested for robocalling bomb threats to various JCCs in the U.S.

Spicer was reluctant to comment on any case currently handled by the Department of Justice, but he didn’t have that same problem last week when he wanted to use the Rockville, Maryland rape case as an example for why we need mass deportations of undocumented immigrants.

[screen shot: MSNBC]