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Sean Spicer's Apple Store visit takes a political turn

Commentary: A woman catches the White House press secretary Apple-shopping in Washington. She asks some uncomfortable questions about him and his boss.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


And there he was.

Shree/Twitter screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Many people, on seeing someone well-known to whom they'd like to give a piece of their mind, shy away when given the opportunity.

That wasn't the case for Shree Chauhan.

Chauhan told me she was in the Apple store in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood on Saturday -- to have her iPhone screen fixed -- when she espied White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

So she walked up to him and asked him a few pointed questions, while recording his reaction. She posted the result to Twitter, together with the words: "Asking @PressSec questions in Apple Store since he doesn't like the press."

"Have you helped with the Russia stuff?" Chauhan asked him. This would be the Russia meddling stuff that has cast a shadow over the election of Spicer's boss, Donald Trump.

Then there was, "Do you feel good about lying to the American people?" There were questions about criminal intent, fascism and treason.

Yes, she was coming from a certain point of view.

Spicer, who looked a little perturbed, didn't answer any of these questions. He did, though, comment, "Such a great country that allows you to be here."

This, Chauhan told me, she didn't catch at the time. She said she'd listened many times after the fact and asked people she trusted to listen. Her conclusion? That he was referring to her brown skin and her good fortune to be in the USA, rather than her good fortune to be in an Apple store.

He could have said, she told me: "Such a great country that allows you to speak your mind."

Chauhan is a New Yorker and works for a nonprofit in Washington. She's of Indian descent.

"I know that my approach wasn't the nicest and frankly I was very nervous," she told me. "Some may say it was an ambush. To that I ask, is what I did even remotely comparable to what this administration is doing to people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, women, Muslims, Jews, the list goes on. Are the daily lies that the press secretary makes to defend these actions OK?"

Neither Apple nor Spicer and the White House responded to a request for comment.

Reactions on Twitter naturally tumbled along party lines. To many, she was courageous to let Spicer hear what real opponents thought. Others tweeted criticism and abuse.

The whole encounter, however, surely encapsulates some of the heightened emotions that are blowing across the nation, as the government operates under cloudy skies.

Spicer -- who, Chauhan said, bought an Apple Watch -- may have thought he'd gotten off lucky this weekend, with no Melissa McCarthy impersonation on "Saturday Night Live." Instead, he got some live First Amendment theater in an Apple store.

Chauhan did, however, say that the Apple store staff were paragons of equality. "Everybody was very friendly and nice to both Mr. Spicer and me."

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