Updated 4:30 p.m. June 20, 2017: Sean Spicer said he isn’t finished in role as press secretary, contrary to media reports that the White House is searching for his replacement and looking to transition Spicer into a less visible role.
“I’m right here, so you can keep taking your selfies,” Spicer said, in response to a question Tuesday from a reporter about rumors that his role at the White House could be changing.
The White House communications director quit last month, and Spicer said the White House was looking for people to fill some open positions.
“We’re always looking for ways to do a better job of articulating the president’s message and his agenda, and we’ll continue to have those discussions internally. When we have an announcement of a personnel nature, we’ll let you know,” he said.
Original: White House press secretary Sean Spicer is leaving the podium for another, less visible role in the White House, according to multiple media reports.
This latest rumor is just another on a long list of speculation about the end of Spicer — when exactly he will transition out of the press secretary role is still unknown, but his new position is likely to be a senior to both the communications director, who quit last month, and the press secretary, according to Politico.
The long tradition of the White House’s daily press briefings has become a spectacle under the Trump administration, and Spicer himself has taken quite a bit of heat.
Every day, millions of Americans tune in to the briefings for a glimpse of Spicer’s confrontational style — it’s even earned him a recurring sketch played by Melissa McCarthy on “Saturday Night Live.”
There was the time when Spicer said Hitler never used chemical weapons and when he told a female African-American reporter to “stop shaking your head,” for which he earned a fair amount of media backlash.
Even President Donald Trump has criticized the former Republican National Committee chief strategist’s handling of news events like the firing of FBI Director James Comey — apparently he should have called the Democrats hypocrites more often.
Trump has often blamed his communications team for his embattled relationship with the press, even going so far as to say he was thinking about canceling them, tweeting, “Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future ‘press briefings’ and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”
…Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future “press briefings” and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017
In the six months since the Trump administration took over the White House, the daily briefings have begun scaling down. They have become shorter and less frequent, and recently the White House has downgraded them from “briefings” to off-camera “gaggles” where reporters are sometimes not even allowed to record audio.
A White House official said Spicer is “sick of manning the podium,” the New York Post reported, but White House chief strategist Steve Bannon suggested another reason.
When an Atlantic reporter asked Bannon why the briefings are now routinely held off camera, Bannon replied via text, “Sean got fatter.”
Whether it’s frustration or vanity pulling Spicer away from the podium we may never know, but deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Politico the White House was conducting interviews for new members of its communications team. Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham and Daily Mail editor David Martosko are rumored to be considered for the job.