At first, the tone of The Briefing is jocular and daddish, like an annual Christmas letter ('Despite being five foot six (and a half, but who's counting), I became the starting goalie on Portsmouth Abbey's soccer team.') But the tone curdles about a third of the way in, when he begins his familiar attacks on the media, which he considers overwhelmingly biased ... Spicer gives a valuable sketch of what it looks like to move up through conservative Washington politics. And he also works hard to own up to some of his own mistakes, including his most notorious blunder: his claim during a press briefing on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that not even Hitler sunk to using chemical weapons on his own people ... But Spicer leaves out important context and doubles down on some of the lies he became famous for as press secretary ... The Briefing has little in the way of explosives, but it does have a punny plainness that makes me think Spicer may not have used a ghostwriter or committee ... Spicer has already made his bed—it's a shame he continues to lie in it.
Even a half-witted political memoir would grapple with such a disconnect—perhaps by acknowledging some fault in the boss, or perhaps by comparing his low points with those of other presidents. Yet The Briefing isn’t a political memoir, nor is it a work of recent history, nor a tell-all, or tell-anything. Rather, it is a bumbling effort at gaslighting Americans into doubting what they have seen with their own eyes ... On the larger question of Trump’s mendacity . . . uh, what mendacity? Twisting language into the incomprehensible—and meaningless—was a special talent of Spicer the press secretary and also clearly of Spicer the memoirist.
Mr. Spicer’s book is much like his tenure as press secretary: short, littered with inaccuracies and offering up one consistent theme: Mr. Trump can do no wrong ... Mr. Spicer’s book is light on insider detail of what was going on in the White House during his tumultuous time as press secretary. In fact, he spends the first third of the book recounting his rise through Washington politics ... There is much that can be fairly criticized about the news media in the Age of Trump, but Mr. Spicer’s effort here falls flat. He annihilates straw men.