Friday, July 21, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He provoked the resignation of his press secretary, Sean Spicer.

Almost since the beginning of Trump's term in office, there have been rumors of his dissatisfaction with Spicer. Trump, who takes nothing as seriously as he does television, was professionally critical of Spicer's untelegenic appearance in early briefings. The fact that Spicer was played by a woman--Melissa McCarthy--in Saturday Night Live parodies also bothered Trump, who hate-watches the show. However, in recent months, Trump and Spicer seemed to have reached a level of relative comfort with one another, to the point that Trump felt free to offer Spicer what for him was a high praise: that the press secretary got good ratings.

Spicer's resignation was in response to Trump's appointment of financier and family friend Anthony Scaramucci as the White House communications director, a move that Spicer furiously opposed. (Chief of Staff Reince Priebus reportedly shares Spicer's anger.) Spicer leaves after 182 days, less than a fifth of the typical tenure of a White House press secretary.

This is not the only high-profile defection from the Trump camp in recent days. Last night, Marc Cavallo, the spokesperson for Trump's sizable legal team, resigned in protest over Trump's decision to try to undermine the integrity of special counsel Robert Mueller. Another member of that team, Marc Kasowitz, is effectively ending his participation in Trump's defense after threatening a stranger who had been critical of Trump last week.

Why does this matter?

  • It is not a good sign when people whose job it is to speak for a president suddenly find they'd rather be doing something else.