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Sean Spicer's Hitler-Assad comments mirror recent Fox interview

'Assad gassed women and children… He’s worse than Hitler,' says Fox Business Network interviewee

Maya Oppenheim
Wednesday 12 April 2017 11:08 BST
This Fox interview could be the source of Spicer's Hitler comments

It has been suggested Sean Spicer’s claim the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was guilty of worse acts than Hitler originated from a recent interview on Fox Business Network.

The White House press secretary has drawn fierce criticism and calls for his dismissal after suggesting Adolf Hitler, who gassed millions of Jews in the Holocaust, did not use chemical weapons.

During his daily press briefing at the White House, Mr Spicer directly compared the leader of the Nazi Party with Mr Assad: “We didn’t use chemical weapons in world war two. You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”

Clarifying his remarks immediately afterwards, he said: “I think when you come to sarin gas, he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing.”

Parallels have been drawn between the comments made by Mr Spicer on Tuesday and those expressed on Fox Business on Monday. Appearing in an interview with veteran host Neil Cavuto, Kassam Eid, a Syrian man who survived a 2013 chemical weapons attack believed to have been carried out by Mr Assad, argued the Syrian President was worse than Hitler.

Even Hitler didn't 'sink' to using chemical weapons like Assad has, Sean Spicer claims

“Assad killed 500,000 people, for the love of God,” he said. “He displaced half of the country, he destroyed the country. He gassed women and children… He’s worse than Hitler.”

While the interview did not go viral, it was spotted by a number of conservative outlets including the Fox News Business' website and Newsmax whose founder is a long-time friend of President Donald Trump and an early donor to his presidential campaign.

CNN host Brian Shelter floated the idea that Mr Spicer’s comments had come from the Fox Business Network interview on Twitter.

It is of course possible that Mr Spicer did not see the Fox Business Network interview. Although President Trump did record his first interview since entering the White House with the channel on Tuesday so Mr Spicer may have been more likely to be paying attention to the network.

This is by no means the first time Fox, a network which has been criticised for its overly favourable coverage of Mr Trump, has been associated with the Trump administration. The president himself has frequently appeared to send tweets in response to cable TV coverage, especially Fox, and sometimes has done so within minutes of it hitting the airwaves.

For example, last month, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade said Russia "ran right over" Obama for eight years. Ten minutes later, Mr Trump tweeted: “For eight years Russia ‘ran over’ President Obama, got stronger and stronger, picked-off Crimea and added missiles. Weak! @foxandfriends”.

Mr Spicer issued an apology for his remarks about Hitler and Assad on CNN shortly after the initial comments.

He told the network: "I was obviously trying to make a point about the heinous acts that Assad had made against his own people last week, using chemical weapons and gas.

"Frankly, I mistakenly made an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which there is no comparison. For that I apologise. It was a mistake to do that."

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