What is 'Seacresting'? An explainer of James Comey's favorite word

Taryn Ryder
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Why does James Comey keep bringing up Seacresting? (Photo: Getty Images)

Ryan Seacrest probably didn’t expect to share headlines with James Comey during the former FBI director’s press tour.

While promoting his new book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, Comey seems to have a favorite word that keeps popping up: Seacresting. He used the term again on the New York Times podcast the Daily. It’s something that even caught host Michael Barbaro by surprise.

So, what is Seacresting?

The word has been around since the TV host’s early American Idol days when Seacrest would cut to a commercial break during a crucial moment, leaving the audience in suspense. Essentially, it’s building up a big, dramatic tease.

Comey feels he “Seacrested” the handling of the July 2016 press conference when recommended no charges be brought against Hillary Clinton for her use of her personal email while she was secretary of state.

“Well, I think that among the screw-ups I think I can identify is one that my children pointed out initially. They called it Seacresting. Where I thought that if —” Comey says on the Daily.

“Seacresting, as in Ryan Seacrest?” Barbaro interjects.

“Yeah,” Comey says. “And I’m not looking to pick on Ryan Seacrest, but my kids’ take is that Ryan Seacrest was often guilty of this: I’m about to announce this thing — but first this commercial. And they said, Dad, you, by waiting till the very end of your announcement on July the 5th to say what it is you were going to do, we think you Seacrested it, and …

“Hmm. Kind of publicly tortured people,” Barbaro says.

“Yeah,” confirms Comey. “And I kind of brushed that off, and then the more I thought about it, the more I thought, actually, people were confused. What I was thinking was — this is where I think it’s an ego issue, is — I thought I knew best, and that, if I announced the result at the front, nobody will listen to what I say, and what I say about why we were reaching this conclusion and the transparency was essential to people having confidence that we were doing it in an independent way. But I think the criticism is actually valid. But the reason I associate it with ego is, I think, I thought I knew the right way to do it, and in hindsight, especially with great feedback from my family, I don’t think I did.”

Comey first wrote about “Seacresting” in his new book.

“My thinking was that if I started with the conclusion that we were recommending no charges, nobody would listen to the rest of what I said,” Comey writes, according to Axios. “I’ve taken some abuse, including from my beloved family, for ‘Seacresting it’ by which they mean imitating the dramatic tease.”

He continues, “[I]f I had it to do over again, I would do some things differently. I would avoid the ‘Seacresting’ mistake by saying at the beginning of my statement that we weren’t recommending charges. … More important, I would have tried to find a better way to describe Secretary Clinton’s conduct than ‘extremely careless.'”

Seacrest hasn’t commented on how he feels about his last name becoming part of Comey’s political narrative.

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