Sean Spicer says he will take the Associated Press to court over a report that a black man confronted him at a book signing, claiming that Spicer had called the man the N-word when they were in high school together.
The former White House press secretary was confronted on Friday while promoting his new book by a black man who went to high school with Spicer. The man claimed that Spicer called him the N-word when they were boxing against each other. As The Hill reports, Spicer is now going on the offensive about the report of the incident.
On Saturday, Spicer’s lawyer said the man’s claim was a lie and that they intended to sue the Associated Press for reporting on it.
“The claim is a lie. Absent an immediate retraction, Mr. Spicer will take legal action Monday,” attorney Michael J. Bowe said in a statement.
Spicer had initially said that he could not recall any incident like the one claimed by the man, who was later identified as Alex Lombard. At the event, Lombard said he was a scared 14-year-old kid when Spicer used the racial slur, but said he is no longer scared and challenged Spicer to a fight.
It would seem that Sean Spicer faces an uphill battle in a lawsuit against the Associated Press. Because he is a public figure, Spicer would have to prove that the wire service acted in actual malice — knowing that the allegation against Spicer was false and reporting on it anyway.
The incident came just a few days after Sean Spicer was confronted for the falsehoods he told while acting as the mouthpiece for Donald Trump. In an interview with the BBC, correspondent Emily Maitlis accused Spicer of poisoning political discourse by playing so loosely with the truth.
“You played with the truth,” she told Spicer, as Axios reported. “You led us down a dangerous path. You have corrupted discourse for the entire world by going along with these lies.”
Spicer has also been slammed for inaccuracies in his book. Jonathan Karl reviewed the book in the Wall Street Journal, saying it is “short, littered with inaccuracies and offering up one consistent theme: Mr. Trump can do no wrong.” The former press secretary has been confronted at each of the book signings as well, with those in attendance often calling out Spicer for lying in his duties as Trump’s spokesman.
The Associated Press has not retracted its account of the incident despite the threat of a lawsuit from Sean Spicer.