Just hours after ABC announced the cast on Wednesday, Bergeron, 64, posted a lengthy message on Twitter, revealing that he met with the DWTS executive producer several months ago and tried to steer the show away from politics.
“Chief among them was my hope that DWTS, in its return following an unprecedented year-hiatus, would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably decisive booking from ANY political affiliations,” Bergeron wrote, adding that he “left that lunch convinced we were in agreement.”
“Subsequently (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, ‘go in a different direction,'” the TV host added.
Added Bergeron, “It is the prerogative of the producers, in partnership with the network, to make whatever decisions they feel are in the best long-term interests of the franchise. We can agree to disagree, as we do now, but ultimately it’s their call.”
“I’ll leave it to them to answer any further questions about those decisions,” Bergeron wrote, before adding a positive spin to his post.
“For me, as host, I always gaze into the camera’s lens and imagine you on the other side, looking for a two hour escape from whatever life hassles you’ve been wrestling with,” he continued, joking that he’s always ready to supply “dad jokes.”
“Hopefully, when [co-host] Erin Andrews and I look into those lenses again on September 16, you’ll be on the other side looking back, able to enjoy the charismatic pro dancers, the unpredictable judges and the kitschy charm that has denied DWTS since 2005,” he concluded the post.
Bergeron echoed his feelings on Spicer, 47, while speaking to Sirius XM’s Entertainment Weekly Liveon Wednesday. Calling him a “political lightning rod,” Bergeron explained his “preference” was for Spicer to not have been cast.
“Dancing, at its best, is an oasis, away from all the divisiveness and all the stuff we are wrestling with right now,” the host said. “And so, that was a call they made, and my job as host, to the best of my ability, is to be Switzerland for those two hours a week.
“For the other 166 hours a week, I am pretty clear where I stand politically,” Bergeron added.
Spicer is joining The Supremes’ Mary Wilson, Karamo Brown, The Bachelorette‘s Hannah Brown, supermodel Christie Brinkley, country star Lauren Alaina, actor James Van Der Beek, NFL legend Ray Lewis, The Office star Kate Flannery, pop star Ally Brooke, former basketball player Lamar Odom and comedian/actor Kel Mitchell out on the ballroom this season.
“The nice thing is Sean will be in charge of assessing audience size,” Bergeron joked to Spicer on Good Morning America when the cast was revealed. (Spicer famously came under fire for lying about the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration, claiming, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.)
After the announcement, fans tweeted their displeasure over a former Trump administration member joining the show.
“I will never think it’s an amusing diversion for Sean Spicer to be on Dancing with the Stars,” wrote one Twitter user, adding, “He defended and lied about amoral, monstrous if not criminal policies and actions. Way to launder amorality, ABC. Gross.”
I will never think it’s an amusing diversion for Sean Spicer to be on Dancing with the Stars. He defended and lied about amoral, monstrous if not criminal policies and actions. Way to launder amorality, ABC. Gross.— Mo Ryan (@moryan) August 21, 2019
Hey #DWTS, Sean Spicer is a really bad man who knowingly spread lies and fear while protecting an incompetent and racist administration. He’s not a punchline. He’s not funny. He is completely unworthy of attention or a redeeming edit. Do better.— Erin F (@hamilterin) August 21, 2019
SERIOUSLY, @DancingABC?? You invited Sean Spicer? He was a lying, manipulative, dangerous, spineless mouthpiece for the most destructive and racist president in recent history. You honestly think we wanna repackage him as a fun dancing celebrity? He doesn’t deserve it. #DWTS— Red Headed Scot (@RedHeadedScot) August 21, 2019
Wrote another, “Hey #DWTS, Sean Spicer is a really bad man who knowingly spread lies and fear while protecting an incompetent and racist administration. He’s not a punchline. He’s not funny. He is completely unworthy of attention or a redeeming edit. Do better.”
Although he admitted to being dancing-impaired, Spicer said on GMA that he plans to “work really, really, really hard every day,” in order to stay in the competition.
This season, the pro dance partner pairings won’t be unveiled until the premiere.
Season 28 of Dancing with the Stars premieres Sept. 16 on ABC.