Press Sec steps on a rake while defending Trump on Bolton book

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham is popping up a little more frequently these days, given the 24/7 coverage of all things impeachment on cable news channels. She appeared on Fox and Friends Monday morning and addressed the upcoming book written by John Bolton.


She was asked about Bolton’s manuscript leaks coming from the Washington Post and New York Times. She questioned the timing of the press reports and then tossed in the book’s publisher for garnishment. The book is being published by Simon & Schuster, the same publishing house of James Comey’s book.

“I think the timing of all of this is very, very suspect,” she said, noting that it came right after the Trump defense team began its rebuttal Saturday at the Senate impeachment trial.

“It’s very clear the president did nothing wrong. Then suddenly, this manuscript has magically appeared in the hands of The New York Times, making very, very big claims. This is … the same publisher that [James] Comey used, also. The fact that magically, again, the book ordering preorder link popped up a couple hours after all of this hit,” she added.

The problem with this criticism is that she had a good point raising a question about the timing of the leaks but then she overstepped. There was no need to drag Comey’s anti-Trump book into the mix. Simon and Schuster is a large publishing company with 35 different imprints. The company publishes books that are across the political spectrum. There are publishers that exclusively work with conservative writers – like Regnery Publishing, for example – but Simon and Schuster publish books for a wide spectrum of authors. I don’t think anyone will confuse Kurt Schlichter for a liberal.

As a matter of fact, Simon and Schuster even entered into a distribution agreement with Regnery in 2018. [Full disclosure: Regnery is a subsidiary of Salem Media Group, as is Hot Air through Salem’s Townhall Media Group.]


Simon & Schuster, Inc., announced today that it has entered into a distribution agreement with Regnery Publishing, a leading publisher of conservative books. Under the agreement, beginning July 1, 2018, Simon & Schuster will handle distribution for Regnery titles in all markets and territories around the world. Regnery will continue to be responsible for sales of its titles in the United States, while Simon & Schuster will handle sales in Canada and export markets.

The point is this – the press secretary doesn’t need to overreach into standard partisan criticisms. She can make the case for the possibility that the release of the leaks was timed to land in WaPo and the New York Times, both anti-Trump newspapers, to gin up angst from Republican senators who might vote against bringing in Bolton and others as witnesses in the Senate trial. That is a completely reasonable argument. The trial so far isn’t looked upon as going well for the Democrats by at least half of the country and Democrats are looking pretty desperate these days.

By including the Comey reference, Grisham opened herself up for this criticism – some of President Trump’s books have been published by Simon and Schuster. Oops.

As Grisham noted, Simon & Schuster — which is putting out Bolton’s book — did indeed publish James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty in 2018. It has also published multiple titles from another central player in the impeachment drama.

President Donald Trump.

Yes, according to his author page on the Simon & Schuster website, the president has written or co-written six books for the New York-based publishing powerhouse. Though the page clearly has not been updated in a while, it touts Trump as “the very definition of the American success story,” and credits him with penning a “business classic” in The Art of the Deal — his 1987 bestseller ghostwritten by now-vocal critic Tony Schwartz.


Turnabout is fair play. There really isn’t any reason to try to troll the publisher to criticize the leaks.

I don’t write this as a gotcha to Grisham. I happen to think she does a good job and the more I see her on television, the more I think she is rising to the occasion. She has a tough job and it is made more difficult given that President Trump communicates directly with the people on social media so frequently himself. A big part of the press secretary’s responsibilities, the daily White House press briefing, has all but been eliminated. The White House press certainly doesn’t hold much respect for her.

In contrast to Monday morning’s interview, Grisham did well on a Fox show on Sunday. She was interviewed by Howie Kurtz on his MediaBuzz show. Kurtz asked her about an accusation Rep. Adam Schiff made earlier on Meet the Press that Trump “threatened” him in a tweet. Grisham did well in explaining that it was a political assessment that Schiff hasn’t “paid the price yet” on impeachment, not a personal threat. She went on to say what many of us frequently say – Schiff is obsessed with President Trump.

During an interview on MediaBuzz the same day, Grisham said she had not spoken to the president about his tweet but added that she believes Schiff is “obsessed” with Trump.

“I think [Trump] means [Schiff] hasn’t yet paid the price with the voters. He hasn’t paid the price yet with the people of this country who see that he’s been lying and very obsessed and, quite frankly, it seems like he’s having a little bit of a mental issue when you sit on the floor for hours and hours and hours. He is obsessed with this president and trying to take him down.”

Grisham said Schiff’s claim that Trump threatened him was “ridiculous,” adding, “The fact that he said that was grandstanding.”


Now that is a good answer. Schiff’s obsessed and he grandstands she says. That’s something even Democrats if they were honest, would agree with about Schiff. There is no ‘gotcha’ coming from either side of the aisle with those observations. I won’t hold my breath for that admission from Democrats, though.

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