Press: Why do we need a new press secretary?

Press: Why do we need a new press secretary?
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My advice to my colleagues in the White House press corps: Don’t waste your time speculating about who will be the new White House press secretary, replacing the feckless Sarah HuckabeeSarah Elizabeth SandersSarah Huckabee Sanders says she is 'relentlessly' attacked by women Sarah Sanders makes debut as Fox News contributor Sarah Sanders to publish book ahead of 2020 election MORE Sanders. Several names have been suggested, including deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley and Stephanie Grisham, press secretary for first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpMelania Trump to attend reopening of Washington Monument Former speechwriter says Michelle Obama came up with 'when they go low we go high' line White House dismisses 'ridiculous' criticism of Melania Trump's coat on 9/11 MORE. Rumors abound that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSupreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration Trump is failing on trade policy Trump holds call with Netanyahu to discuss possible US-Israel defense treaty MORE’s also hoping to recruit someone from Fox News.

Again, my advice: Don’t waste your time. The real question is not: Who will be the new White House press secretary? The real question is: Do we even need a White House press secretary? And the answer is a resounding NO, NO, NO!

First, let’s be honest. Of all the White House press secretaries I’ve seen, known and covered — under Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump — Sanders is by far the very worst. Granted, it’s one of the toughest jobs in the White House because of the built-in conflict. Every administration tries to control the news, providing as little information as possible, while reporters always try to expand the news, demanding as much information as possible. There’s always a lot of tension, with the press secretary caught in the crossfire.


But briefings under Sanders were not just tense, they were downright hostile. Under her tenure, briefings almost always started late, lasted only an average 15-20 minutes, and quickly degenerated into all-out warfare. Treating every legitimate question as an outright attack on Trump, Sanders responded with sarcasm, vitriol or counterattack, accusing reporters of being lazy, ill-informed or simply “fake news.”

But, of course, I’m talking about ancient history: back in the days when they actually scheduled White House briefings. No longer. Press secretaries used to brief daily, except when the president was out of town. Under Sanders, briefings became more and more infrequent. She held only two in October 2018, one in November and one in December. And so far, she’s only briefed from the briefing room podium twice in 2019, the last one on March 11, 99 days ago. 

Her briefings will be remembered, however, not just for how rare they were, but how untrustworthy. Reporters soon discovered you could not count on Sanders to tell the truth, any more than you could trust Trump himself. Two of her more blatant lies, in fact, are immortalized on page 72 of the Mueller report. Under oath, Sanders told the special counsel that her statement that the administration had heard from “countless FBI agents” unhappy with then-Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyHouse Democrats seeking Sessions's testimony in impeachment probe Justice OIG completes probe on FBI surveillance of ex-Trump campaign aide Aggrieved Trump rips Dems for 'sad' impeachment effort MORE was merely a “slip of the tongue” and that her insistence that rank-and-file agents had “lost confidence” in Comey was not founded on anything.

Which gets back to the question: Who should replace Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Answer: NOBODY. Don’t get me wrong. Of course, White House briefings are important. They’re the best way for the administration to get its message out, unfiltered, every day. And they’re the only way for the American people to know what our government’s up to. Both the White House and the public suffer when there are no briefings.

But, no matter how important, you don’t need a White House press secretary when you have no White House briefings, which is the press secretary’s main job. And you don’t need an official White House press secretary when the president himself is the de facto press secretary, tweeting 20 times a day. 

Donald Trump doesn’t need any press secretary to lie for him. He does a good enough job, lying for himself.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” His Twitter handle is @BillPressPod. He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”