Is Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman and communications director–and, more famously these days, a comedic target of Melissa McCarthy–about to become Old Spicer? Our friend Jim Acosta at CNN seems to think so:
The White House is ramping up its search for a new communications director in an effort to lighten the load of embattled White House press secretary Sean Spicer, multiple sources told CNN.
Okay, this is CNN, so we need to take whatever they say with a grain of salt. But they say they have multiple sources, so at least there’s that.
A source familiar with internal communications said President Donald Trump is disappointed in Spicer’s performance during the first two weeks of the administration.
Wait, a source? I thought it was multiple sources. Don’t bait and switch me here, Jim!
Spicer has served as both White House press secretary and communications director for the new administration. Those roles are typically filled by two staffers.
A man of many hats, it would seem. With that much pressure on him, I can see how he can get a little cranky–especially when he’s also serving as the ringmaster of an increasingly wacky D.C. press corps.
The rest of the article is basically a tug-of-war between sources who claim that President Trump is just hunky-dory with Spicer’s work, and others who say that Trump is eyeing him the same way Darth Vader eyed Captain Needa right before “accepting” his apology for losing the Millenium Falcon.
Honestly, I don’t really know what to believe here, as none of the “sources” is willing to go on the record. And given Trump’s penchant for trolling the press, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this was yet another egg the president has planted for the media to get on their faces. Just based on my own observations about Spicer’s performance, though, it’s pretty clear that he isn’t enjoying his job very much. That’s understandable given the circumstances: Spicer is, according to the article, mainly a Reince Priebus guy, and the relationship between the GOP establishment wing and the Trump wing is still uneasy. And given Trump’s desire that his people should “look the part,” Acosta’s assertion that the president isn’t pleased with Spicer’s performance rings true to me.
So where does the White House go from here? Well, if this really is an issue, a good start would be to look at the source of the problem. Sean Spicer, remember, is a GOP company man–and as such, he probably doesn’t “speak Trump” fluently. That’s why, when he tries to get up in the grill of the fabulist media, he seems like he’s trying too hard. His first instinct is to try and make nice with the press, like he was always taught to do. Trying to imitate Trump’s combativeness only comes off as inauthentic.
You’ll recall that Mitt Romney had much the same problem in 2012. As a moderate, he only “spoke conservative” as a second language, which made him go to great lengths to assure the base he really was one of them. Of course, the base sensed that if Romney really was that conservative, there wouldn’t be any need for those assurances. Similarly, if Sean Spicer truly got Trumpism, he’d be able to communicate that in a more natural way.
Who knows? Maybe I’m wrong about this, and Spicer will eventually settle into the role nicely. At the very least, I’d advise him to deploy lots of humor in his dealings with the press. God knows, the press corps has become quite the running joke. Might as well have a little fun at their expense.