Apparently President Trump can't even scream at his TV set without somebody leaking it to reporters, so it's little surprise to learn that Trump is polling confidantes about whether he should fire White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. As Trump sat in the White House dining room Tuesday night and watched the backlash against his firing of FBI Director James Comey play out on cable news, he became "irate" noticing that "nobody was defending him," The Washington Post reports. "Trump pinned much of the blame on Spicer and [communications director Michael] Dubke's communications operation."
In fact, there had been no media response planned, in part because Trump and his advisers did not expect a swift, forceful backlash to the decision. The other reason, the Post says, is that "Trump kept a close hold on the process" and Spicer and Dubke "were brought into the Oval Office and informed of the Comey decision just an hour before the news was announced. Other staffers in the West Wing found out about the FBI director’s firing when their cellphones buzzed with news alerts." Spicer might pay the price anyway, says Jonathan Swan at Axios:
Spicer is fulfilling his Navy Reserve duty at the Pentagon this week, and "officials at the highest levels, including the president, are monitoring Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' performances as she substitutes for Spicer in the briefing room," CNN reports, with the general perception being that Spicer was "benched," maybe for good. One White House official said Spicer's reserve duty "couldn't have come at a worse time for him."
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
"This is probably the most egregious example of press and communications incompetence since we've been here,” a West Wing official tells The Washington Post. "It was an absolute disaster. And the president watched it unfold firsthand."
To be fair, Spicer would probably have come up with a better communications strategy if he hadn't learned Trump's plan an hour before he dropped the bombshell. At the same time, hiding among the White House bushes Tuesday night to avoid talking to the press about Comey's ouster? That's on Spicer.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.