For the first week or two of the Trump administration, I really thought White House Press Secretary and amateur Melissa McCarthy impersonator Sean Spicer was funny. He was — and still is — an unmitigated disaster.
It seems like every time Spicer steps in front of the press he looks like a fool. Whether it be his hissy fits in the early weeks of the administration or his bizarre recent claims — which he’s apologized for — that Hitler never used chemical weapons, Spicer is either daft or he’s doing what he’s doing intentionally.
After weeks of reports that President Donald Trump was unhappy with Spicer’s performance and rumors that he was going to be fired, it seems like the White House has decided to keep Spicer around for a while. That’s weird. Nobody watching Spicer’s press conferences can be pleased with his performances. There has to be a motive for keeping him around.
The question then has to be about whether Spicer’s continually foolish behavior is a strategy being used to distract us from the other nonsense going on in the Trump administration.
Perhaps I’m giving them too much credit for creating a strategy this brilliant, but if we do know anything about the president and his allies thus far, it’s that they’re manipulative and will do anything to get what they want.
The errors Spicer makes in a job he’s supposedly trained to do are completely unforced. The press aren’t even asking that tough of questions, he’s just bad at trying to answer them.
Honestly, most students in a basic public relations class at any university could likely do just as well, if not better. He’s doing things media relations professionals are drilled on not doing —arguing semantics, being hostile and lying constantly. It almost feels like he’s trying to garner attention.
At the same time, since this administration began, when Spicer hasn’t made the news, something else major seems to happen. Conflicts of interest, launching missiles at Syria, historically low approval ratings and, oh yeah, possibly colluding with the Russians to win the election.
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Every week, the press digs deeper and deeper into the president’s shady affairs and then suddenly, out of nowhere, the most visible face in the White House bumbles in and spews some crazy nonsense, completely changing media coverage.
It’s almost … dare I say … brilliant. In acting like a petulant child, Spicer, or whoever is telling him what to do, single-handedly steers news coverage away from scandals and onto stupid discussion topics like whether the Muslim ban was actually a ban.
I should reiterate that I’m not saying Spicer is actually doing a great job. He’s defying all conventional wisdom within the public relations and media relations world and it will likely backfire.
But at the same time, by acting like such a fool, he’s controlling and manipulating the story. Instead of talking about the big picture ramifications of our involvement in Syria, or the many people impacted by the Muslim ban, some news outlets are focusing on Spicer’s bizarre statements instead. If you’re the Trump administration, that’s not such a bad thing. For the rest of us, however, it sucks.
Connor Touhey ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in political science, history and journalism.