“I do” stand by the decision to cast Spicer, Burke told TVLine on Wednesday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour.
As for how Spicer (and some, ahem, well-placed conservative cronies) lobbied for him to stick around the show despite his lack of proficiency/improvement, Burke shrugged, “It’s a ballroom dancing show, it is not a political show, and the contestants came with the spirit of that. Ultimately, this is a show in which the audience votes, and the audience voted [to keep Spicer week after week]. And ultimately the right person (former Bachelorette Hannah Brown) won.”
Spicer’s DWTS casting immediately made waves when it was announced in August, prompting co-host Tom Bergeron to express his disappointment in ABC’s decision. At the time, Bergeron said he wanted Season 28 to be “a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from any party affiliations.” Spicer, for his part, said he hoped the Dancing ballroom would be a “politics-free zone.”
But the frustration over Spicer’s casting lasted well into Season 28, as he continued to survive elimination despite earning the lowest scores from the judges each week. Even the new-fangled judges’ save did little to resolve the issue, since Spicer regularly got enough support from the voting audience to avoid the bottom two.
President Trump was among Spicer’s supporters, urging his Twitter followers to vote for Spicer during the live shows. Right-wing publications such as Breitbart News also rallied around Spicer throughout Season 28. At the time, judge Carrie Ann Inaba said she found Spicer’s success “frustrating,” then urged the fans of other contestants to “vote as passionately as the people who support Sean.”
Spicer ultimately finished in sixth place, while former Bachelorette Hannah Brown went on to win the Mirrorball. Dancing With the Stars has not yet been formally renewed for Season 29.