Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) host Tom Bergeron has criticised the show's producers for booking controversial former White House aide Sean Spicer.
Spicer was ridiculed during his stint as U.S. President Donald Trump's Press Secretary for his attempts to justify his boss's often false and absurd claims but is now looking to rehabilitate his image with a stint on the ABC dancing contest.
After this year's contestants were announced, Bergeron moved to distance himself from the decision to sign up the former White House spokesman in a statement on Twitter.
In his post, the 64-year-old wrote he had met with the show's executive producer and offered up suggestions for this year's series, and had wanted to avoid booking politically divisive contestants.
"Chief among them was my hope that DWTS, in its return from an unprecedented year-long hiatus, would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from any party affiliation," he wrote. "I left that lunch convinced we were in agreement."
Although he failed to mention Spicer directly, Bergeron noted later in his post, the show's producers decided to "go in a different direction" - one he did not agree with as he wanted viewers to see the show, which he presents with Erin Andrews, as an "escape" from politics.
Spicer has now hit back at Bergeron's comments - telling a reporter from U.S. website The Blast he hoped to heal political divides by showing off his dancing skills.
"This show is a great opportunity to be an example, how we can have better dialogue and respectfully learn from each other," Spicer said. "I would hope by the end of the show Tom looks at this as more of an opportunity to help bridge the divide that exists right now."
Season 28 of Dancing with the Stars, which will also feature Khloe Kardashian's basketball star ex, Lamar Odom and Dawson's Creek actor James Van Der Beek as contestants, premieres on 16 September.
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