With the White House Press Podium empty once again since Trump became president, the position of Press Secretary has proven to be a place integrity and purpose go to die.
With the resignation of Sarah Sanders, the Trump administration’s difficulty holding onto a spokesperson for their official agenda is once again at the forefront. Since his inauguration, Trump’s administration has filled and vacated the position of the White House Press Secretary three times in three years.
Each one who took the position was eventually unable to deal with the trials of having to explain and defend the actions of a president who lacks impulse control and any semblance of maturity. They have either resigned or been fired, none of them turning to look back once they had left the White House.
Since his inauguration, Trump’s White House has become embittered and lacking in transparency, making the job of his press secretary near impossible to carry out causing one secretary after the next to compromise their integrity, their sanity or both.
The role of the Press Secretary is intended to be a bridge between the press and the Oval Office, responsible for conveying the agenda and actions of the President to the press as well as the public.
Under Trump’s leadership, the press secretary and by extension, the press room quickly became a hostile environment for the press, where the press were given varying degrees of false information, and treated like an enemy.
Six Months of Sean Spicer
The revolving door of press secretaries under the Trump administration have all had one thing in common; they destroyed the bridge between the press and the White House beyond recognition. Sean Spicer was the first victim of the cursed job, surviving in the administration for six months, before resigning from the position. Spicer’s relationship with the press was strained and his method of operation was that of bald-faced lies and misrepresentation of facts. His tenure as Press Secretary marked the beginning of the end of the integrity that was once symbolized by the White House Press podium.
During his brief tenure, Spicer challenged the validity of facts, and even gave up on doing his job, at one point using the president’s tweets to provide an explanation of the President’s offensive and or controversial actions. The strained relationship between Sean Spicer and the media came to an end when he resigned in protest over his successor Anthony Scaramucci being appointed against his better judgment, as the White House Communications Director.
Anthony Scaramucci’s time as press secretary was short and chaotic, however, his brief tenure provided enough scandal and bad blood between himself and the press to last a lifetime. His appointment was a fluke, with Spicer resigning in protest over his appointment as the White House Communications Director.
The Ten-Day Candidate
Anthony Scaramucci’s brief tenure as Press Secretary burned every possible bridge he could have between himself and White House press and communications staff, oblivious to what the term off the record meant, when he repeatedly leaked information to the press, acting shocked and hurt when he was confronted, twisting the narrative to seem like the press was misinterpreting his words and actions.
During his time as press secretary, his poor sense of ethics and honesty rivaled that of the king of lies, Donald Trump himself. From telling the media that he was planning on firing Michael Short, the White House communications director, then pretending to be shocked about it being leaked, to claiming his public financial records were leaked in a subsequently deleted tweet, in an attempt to implicate Reince Priebus, Scaramucci’s twisting of the narrative against the press made Donald Trump look like a novice.
In the final days behind the podium, Scaramucci fueled by a long-standing vendetta against Reince Priebus lost all sense of caution. During an expletive-laced call to a reporter from the New Yorker, without going off the record he implicated Priebus of leaking his financial information, leading to Priebus leaving the White House.
Scaramucci was confident that his job was secure, due to his excessive and public loyalty to Trump. However, within hours of the arrival of the new chief of staff, John Kelly, Scaramucci was promptly fired. His own vendettas were, in the end, his undoing. In the quest to get Priebus out of the White House, Scaramucci neglected to realize that the new chief of staff may not appreciate his actions as much as the president.
Just shy of two years
The third and only female press secretary managed to survive the Trump administration the longest, due to her rare and infrequent press briefing appearances, and dictator-like control of the press room. Sarah Sanders’s method of dealing with the press was far less direct than her predecessors, choosing to deflect questions by giving vague or partially true answers instead of outright lying or ignoring the question completely. She avoided angering the press by choosing to only tell the truth when it was in her favor, and to simply ignore questions that would force her to lie or embellish the truth
The distinct difference between Sarah Sanders and her predecessors is that during her tenure, more often than not the press secretary’s podium has been empty. Since the last official briefing on March 11th, Sanders has not talked to the press from the WH podium and by extension the public directly for 100 days. The President’s Twitter account has effectively replaced the role of the press secretary, with Sander’s last appearance lasting a brief fourteen minutes.
The track record of a hostile press and the task of being the spokesperson for one of the illest-tempered presidents in history broke Sanders and drove her to resign, in hopes of finding a real purpose instead of defending the president’s late-night tweets discussing foreign policy and domestic affairs.