Most Shared

Sean Spicer's Emmys bit is the redemption arc we don't need right now.

It's not quite the level playing field we'd like to believe.

Sean Spicer, the man who began his tenure at the White House by claiming, contrary to all evidence, that Trump's inauguration crowd was "the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period," received a roaring round of applause when he appeared on stage at the Emmys.

Sean Spicer at the Emmys. Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images.


Reactions in the audience ranged from delight to shock, as the same man who once ranted that "not even Hitler" used chemical weapons or gas on his own people (blatantly false) was invited to spend the evening rubbing elbows with Hollywood's elite.

Less than two months after officially leaving the White House, the same man who supported Trump's claim that there were "millions" of illegal votes in the 2016 election by misrepresenting a 2008 study has seemingly shed his pariah status. How?

Actor Jason Isaacs shared his feelings on Spicer's Emmys appearance in a no-holds-barred Instagram post.

"What were the Emmys thinking celebrating this modern day Goebbels, who was the thuggish face of Orwellian doublespeak just moments ago?" Isaacs captioned a selfie he took at the Netflix after-party with Spicer in the background. Spicer "has the aura of a giant festering abscess," Isaacs wrote.

It's not as though Isaacs is alone in thinking the gleeful reintegration of Sean Spicer into polite society is out of bounds.

Spicer's ability to shed his poor reputation is not without precedent.

People just love a good redemption story. Conservative commentator David Frum, a speechwriter during George W. Bush's administration, is best known for the infamous "Axis of Evil" speech that laid the groundwork for the invasion of Iraq. Today, you can find him being approvingly retweeted by liberals and progressives for his "#NeverTrump" views, offering political commentary in writing and on TV.

The same can be said of Rick Wilson, a Republican ad-maker who was the driving force behind a 2002 TV spot suggesting that  Vietnam veteran Max Cleland was sympathetic to Osama Bin Laden and a racially-tinged 2008 ad centered on candidate Obama's pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. These days, he can be found making regular appearances on MSNBC and being favorably written about on liberal blogs.

For the most part, their pasts have been wiped clean. It's no surprise, then, that so many are willing to ignore Spicer's propagandist past and allow him to be remembered more as the lovable satirization Melissa McCarthy played on "Saturday Night Live" than for the very real harm he caused to American citizens during his brief tenure as Trump's press secretary.

Spicer during a January press briefing. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Not everybody gets the kind of "good redemption story" that Sean Spicer is currently enjoying.

In a tweet following Spicer's Emmys appearance, MSNBC host Chris Hayes summed the problem up perfectly.

Forgiveness, redemption, and fresh starts are too often offered only to the powerful. The wealthy. The elite. The rest of us aren't so privileged.

Perhaps no better example of this dynamic exists than two stories currently playing out at Harvard University. The school recently unveiled its Institute of Politics visiting fellows for the Fall 2017 session. Among those invited were Sean Spicer and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Chelsea Manning, who served seven years in a military prison for leaking classified documents, was also slated to join the group. Manning's inclusion was met with backlash (CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell even resigned from the fellows program in protest), and she was swiftly and unceremoniously removed from the lineup.

Lewandowski at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Lewandowski, who was charged with battery for grabbing a reporter during the campaign and was recently accused of threatening his neighbors with a baseball bat, has since landed a cushy CNN contributor position for several months during the campaign and is now headed to Harvard. Like Spicer, redemption came easy for Lewandowski.

Chelsea Manning, though? She doesn't get to be forgiven. She doesn't get to have a fresh start. She doesn't get an invite to the Emmys or to be a CNN contributor, even though her sentence was commuted by President Obama in early 2017.

The same goes for Michelle Jones, who after serving more than 20 years in an Indiana prison, applied and was accepted to Harvard's exclusive history program before a dean overturned that decision. She worked, studied, and made it into the school on her merits, but her past kept her from a fresh start.

"We didn't have some preconceived idea about crucifying Michelle," John Stauffer, a Harvard American studies professor, told The New York Times, which published Jones's story last week. "But frankly, we knew that anyone could just punch her crime into Google, and Fox News would probably say that P.C. liberal Harvard gave 200 grand of funding to a child murderer, who also happened to be a minority. I mean, c'mon."

This is the kind of elitism we need to rail against, the kind that holds people to different standards based solely on who they are.

The world isn't yet a just and equal place for everyone to live, and we should always question why we're so willing to help reintegrate some who've sought a fresh start back into society, but not all. If the Spicers, Lewandowskis, Wilsons, and Frums of the world deserve a chance at redemption, why shouldn't that extend to people from marginalized groups, like Manning or Jones?

The dynamic spelled out between the anger and disbelief of Isaacs's post-Emmys Instagram post and the sober reality of Hayes' tweet about redemption say a whole lot about what justice looks like for those in power versus those who lack it.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

Keep Reading Show less

It can be hard to find hope in hard times, but we have examples of humanity all around us.

I almost didn't create this post this week.

As the U.S. reels from yet another horrendous school massacre, barely on the heels of the Buffalo grocery store shooting and the Laguna Woods church shooting reminding us that gun violence follows us everywhere in this country, I find myself in a familiar state of anger and grief and frustration. One time would be too much. Every time, it's too much. And yet it keeps happening over and over and over again.

I've written article after article about gun violence. I've engaged in every debate under the sun. I've joined advocacy groups, written to lawmakers, donated to organizations trying to stop the carnage, and here we are again. Round and round we go.

It's hard not to lose hope. It would be easy to let the fuming rage consume every bit of joy and calm and light that we so desperately want and need. But we have to find a balance.

Keep Reading Show less