He had the best ratings. Really terrific. But in the end it wasn’t enough.
Sounds from this like he’ll be staying on at the White House, though, or at least that’s the hope. If so, it’s smart of Trump. A newly fired Spicer has every incentive to write a tell-all, especially since he’s unlikely to be deluged with PR job offers after the last four months. By keeping him on the team, you buy his silence unless and until he musters the dignity to resign. Which there’s no sign of him doing.
The press secretary, who has turned into a household name over the past five months and garnered sky-high television ratings for his daily press briefings, has also drawn the ire of the president. He is no longer expected to do a daily, on-camera briefing after Trump’s foreign trip, the officials said.
The briefings have become one of the most dreaded parts of the president’s day, and Trump has told allies and aides he doesn’t want Spicer, who has developed a belligerent persona from behind the podium, publicly defending and explaining the message anymore, officials added…
One senior White House official said deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will likely appear at the podium more often going forward, while Spicer will keep a senior role in the administration. Another official said to expect fewer on-camera briefings in general — something that the administration has been toying with since Trump entered office.
A rotating crew of spokesmen would seem like an odd idea for any other White House since it increases the chances of a muddled message coming from the podium, but with Trump himself undercutting the daily talking points on Twitter regularly, it doesn’t much matter. Bring in Kim Guilfoyle, have her, Spicer, and Sanders draw straws every day to face the press. By now, everyone understands that Trump is the only person whose comments matter.
For just that reason, I don’t think Trump’s core problem with Spicer is that he’s bad at his job. I think it’s the fact that Spicer isn’t an original Trumper and therefore seems less trustworthy to a president who’s exasperated that his White House is leaking like a colander. Spicer came over from the RNC, remember, and reportedly wasn’t Trump’s first choice. Kellyanne Conway has claimed that she was offered the job of press secretary and turned it down. Reince Priebus leaned on Trump to give Spicer a shot and Trump reluctantly agreed, and it’s been leak-o-rama ever since. Obviously that’s not all Spicer’s fault, but as someone in a highly visible job who wasn’t part of the campaign, he’s a natural target for Trump’s fear that he’s surrounded by people who are disloyal to him. And that fear isn’t irrational:
“No one in the White House likes or respects Trump.”
Those are the words of a source with very close ties to a number of officials in the White House explaining the views of key personnel advising the president…
My understanding … is that much of the staff is skeptical towards if not outright hostile to the president. And the consequences of the shared dislike have been devastating, among them a slew of leaks that has kept the administration on the defensive and unable to pursue the agenda of the president. Trump is hardly able to have a conversation or meeting at the White House that doesn’t somehow get retold to the press within days. The more embarrassing the scoop, the better…
As the transition official recommended, “[Trump] needs to put in the people he can trust, the ones who were there with him from the beginning.”
That’s from Daniel Halper, formerly of the New York Post and currently of the Drudge Report, two publications with long ties to TrumpWorld. This Time magazine story is in the same spirit, noting White House aides trudging around with “funereal looks” on their faces and “shopping résumés to think tanks, super PACs and corporate communications firms in the market for anyone who can make sense of the White House’s bizarre workings.” Top aides like Spicer may already be so linked to Trump in the public’s mind that it’s complicating their job prospects, giving them reason to stay put and hope for a rebound in the White House’s fortunes. But Trump has no reason to let them linger given his suspicions about them; that’s why we’re hearing about a “major shake-up” supposedly being in the works, with Spicer’s apparent demotion likely just the first step.
Politico claims that Trump has been reaching out lately to Corey Lewandowski, David Bossie, and Jason Miller, all of them old-school Trumpers, possibly for advice or possibly for jobs in the White House after the shake-up comes. Lewandowski has supposedly told people that Trump wants him to help “bring order” to the operation, which is like trying to put out a fire by dousing it with lighter fluid. But Lewandowski’s presence probably would help Trump’s comfort level even if it didn’t make the White House run more smoothly. He seems desperate for people he can trust, which is why Jared Kushner is now running most of the government. He trusts the old-school Trumpers who were there from the beginning. It’s a fait accompli that they’ll end up on the inside. Exit quotation via Roger Stone: “I look at the White House staff list and I know two people on the staff. He has surrounded himself with quislings, and they leak like a sieve. He beat the establishment and then he immediately hired them, that doesn’t make any sense.”