How Stephen Colbert pulled off the Sean Spicer reveal at the Emmys, the night's most polarising moment

Spicer at the EmmysKevin Winter/Getty ImagesSean Spicer at the Emmy Awards.

One of the most memorable moments from Sunday night’s Emmy Awards came at the end of host Stephen Colbert’s opening, when former White House press secretary Sean Spicer emerged, pushing a podium with the White House seal on it — similar to the one he used for press briefings (as well as Melissa McCarthy used when playing Spicer this past season on “Saturday Night Live”).

With the Emmy room in total shock (did you see “Veep” star Anna Chlumsky’s reaction?), Spicer pronounced: “This will be the largest audience to witness the Emmys, period — both in person and around the world,” imitating his similar statement at a press briefing about President Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd being the largest ever.

Here’s how the room reacted when Spicer suddenly appeared:

It turns out, the moment was something Colbert came up with just a few days before the Emmys. The late night host asked aloud in the middle of a show meeting if Spicer might be into the surprise appearance, which led to a producer contacting Spicer’s people with the idea, according to CNN.

“They came up with a concept, and I thought it was kinda funny. I said I’d be there,” Spicer told The Hollywood Reporter

Spicer was already in Los Angeles, as he went on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” last Wednesday for his first interview since resigning. He quickly flew back to his home near Washington, then returned to Los Angeles just before the Emmys for a secret dress rehearsal. According to CNN, the auditorium where the Emmys take place was almost entirely empty while Spicer practiced his appearance, in the hopes his involvement wouldn’t be leaked before the big night. 

It turned out to be a success, with the audience and people watching at home left completely shocked. However, the backlash of Spicer’s appearance was quick.

As Spicer began to be flooded by celebrities backstage and at Emmy after-parties, those who felt Spicer pushed out misinformation while working for  Trump took to social media. 

Ben Rhodes, former Barack Obama foreign policy adviser tweeted:

MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell:

Kelly Dittmar, assistant professor at Rutgers University:

Tim Miller, former Jeb Bush spokesman:

Sources told CNN that Colbert, who has been one of the loudest critics of Trump, wasn’t concerned with the perception that he and the Emmys “normalized” Spicer. 

As the debate raged on Sunday night, Spicer was said to get so much attention at the Governor’s Ball following the Emmys that he could hardly sit and eat his food.

When THR asked Spicer if he was concerned at all about any backlash his appearance may cause he said “not so much.”

“I was more worried about the logistical reactions,” Spicer said. “I’ve never wheeled a podium before. The one I’m used to is pretty stationary.”

Are you watching what @SeanSpicer confirmed is the largest #Emmys ever, period? What are you waiting for?
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) September 18, 2017

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