White House press secretary Sean Spicer faced major social media criticism Tuesday after referring to concentration camps as "Holocaust centers" while walking back his claim that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons.
Spicer first drew attention at Tuesday's press briefing when he criticized Syrian President Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons on his own people by comparing him to Hitler.
“You had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” he said.
Many, including a journalist in the press briefing, were quick to point out that Hitler used gas chambers to kill millions of Jewish people during the Holocaust. Spicer attempted to walk back his statement.
“When it comes to sarin gas, [Hitler] was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing,” Spicer said.
“I understand your point. Thank you. I appreciate that. He brought them into the Holocaust centers, I understand that. I was saying in the way that Assad used them where he went into town, dropped them into the middle of town. I appreciate the clarification. That was not the intent.”
His reference to concentration camps as "Holocaust centers" drew immediate attention and criticism on social media. Shortly after the press briefing ended, "Holocaust centers" was trending on Twitter with more than 2,000 tweets.
Did Spicer just refer to a Nazi extermination camp as a "Holocaust Center"? https://t.co/IQYvdaO3nt— Zack Stanton (@zackstanton) April 11, 2017
Will Mexico pay for the Holocaust Centers?— People For Bernie (@People4Bernie) April 11, 2017
"Concentration Camps"— HUMINT Abedin (@PykeA) April 11, 2017
"The Shops at Holocaust Village"
Honestly, "holocaust centers" is weirder than anything else he said.— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) April 11, 2017
The reporter behind the questioner's faces during Sean Spicer's "Holocaust Centers" comments though.pic.twitter.com/x2OuUICY66— Erick Fernandez (@ErickFernandez) April 11, 2017
Look, the Press Secretary may have just called concentration camps "holocaust centers," but at least he didn't do it during Passover.— Myke Cole (@MykeCole) April 11, 2017
With a heavy sigh, Sean changes his "Days without stepping on a rake" sign from 1 to 0 pic.twitter.com/xgYf4nT2F6— Hippo (@InternetHippo) April 11, 2017
Sean Spicer would show up to the gallows & be like "does anyone know when the neck hugging ceremony starts?"— Aparna Nancherla (@aparnapkin) April 11, 2017
PEPSI: we're the worst— Kaivan Shroff (@KaivanShroff) April 11, 2017
UNITED: no, we're the worst
SEAN SPICER: hold my beer
If I said what Sean Spicer said in public or private, I would be fired from my comms job, immediately, and deservedly so.— Dante Atkins (@DanteAtkins) April 11, 2017
HEY UNITED, YOU SHOULD DRAG SEAN SPICER AWAY FROM THIS PRESS BRIEFING— Quinn Sutherland (@ReelQuinn) April 11, 2017
Spicer’s internal monologue: “Hmm, I need to argue that Assad is bad. Guess it’s time to downplay Hitler for some reason."— Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) April 11, 2017
whom could have predicted that Spicer talking extemporaneously about Hitler would have turned out thusly— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) April 11, 2017
Wow Spicer's lucky there's not some Jewish holiday about the liberation from the forces of death on right now.— Scott Wells (@bitb) April 11, 2017
I hope SNL does a skit where Air Force One is overbooked, and either Sean Spicer or Kellyanne Conway is dragged off the plane. #united— redirectloop (@redirectloop) April 11, 2017
Sean Spicer says Hitler didn't use chemical weapons....do gas chambers to kill millions of Jews count? Yikes...— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) April 11, 2017
I mean say what you want about Hitler. He killed 6 million people without the use of nerve agents, except that whole gas chamber thing...— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) April 11, 2017
This is actually worse. German Jews weren't German people? They were... what? Aliens like Nazis claimed? https://t.co/3slkognoN3— Liz Mair (@LizMair) April 11, 2017
ay yi yi yi yi stop talking just stop talking https://t.co/xPR97d3MYK— T. Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) April 11, 2017
Does anyone genuinely think @seanspicer doesn't know what happened in the Holocaust?— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 11, 2017
He jumbled his point, idiotically.
Reason we know time travel won't be invented in our lifetimes is that an older Sean Spicer didn't suddenly appear and scream "Stop Talking!" https://t.co/fwFIgDDN05— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) April 11, 2017