09152019What's Hot:

Spicer’s tenure: Short but memorable

Even if he didn’t answer them directly, Sean Spicer did not seek to evade the hard questions. | Andrew Harnik/AP

Exactly six months after his first briefing at the White House podium, press secretary Sean Spicer is out.

His tenure was brief, but it was perhaps the most memorable of any press secretary in the position’s long history. Never before has a White House spokesman gained such cultural prominence, his briefings deemed such a spectacle that cable networks carried them live, late night shows replayed clips with regularity and Saturday Night Live made him a recurring character.

Story Continued Below

Many Americans could not pick Ari Fleischer or Jay Carney — press secretaries under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, respectively — out of a lineup. But Spicer was widely recognized outside the confines of the West Wing, sometimes with unpleasant results.

By the end, though, he had largely disappeared from public view, replaced at daily off-camera briefings by principal deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders.

His credibility was suspect. He regularly made factually inaccurate statements and defended the often evidence-free claims of his boss. Most famously, perhaps, was his declaration that the crowd at Trump’s inaugural was the largest in history — “period.” But there were many other assertions that undermined his reputation. He insisted the administration’s travel ban was “not a ban,” though the president himself had referred to it as such. He claimed, without evidence, that fired acting attorney general Sally Yates was a major Hillary Clinton supporter.

The White House press corps did not much have a high degree of respect for Spicer. He berated reporters regularly, both to their faces and behind their backs. He called one reporter an “imbecile,” another an “idiot” and planted a false story about another in a right-wing publication. And that was just his relationship with POLITICO.

Even if he didn’t answer them directly, Spicer did not seek to evade the hard questions. He would regularly call on reporters whom he knew would pose difficult queries — from CNN’s Jim Acosta to the New York Times’ Glenn Thrush and NBC’s Hallie Jackson — and would often get into heated confrontations, voices on both sides rising. It was often this drama that kept viewers coming back.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 16: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer listens during a press briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House May 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster defended the President Donald TrumpÕs decision to share intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during an Oval Office meeting last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Many reporters and observers, as combative as they could be with Spicer, quietly voiced sympathy for his plight as spokesman for a demanding and mercurial president.

Spicer appeared to grow more comfortable behind the podium as time went on, smiling more often and laughing at his own jokes. And he even came to laugh at himself, gamely joking about the SNL routine and proudly citing a POLITICO article about his use of the word “phenomenal.”

While his colleagues enjoyed the SNL routine, his boss did not: Trump was particularly irked that Spicer was played by a woman.

Missing out on the latest scoops? Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning — in your inbox.

Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

comments powered by HyperComments

More on the topic