Sean Spicer’s Daily White House Press Briefings, a half-hour comedy about an anxious, anthropomorphic marshmallow who must defend the actions of an indefensible president on pain of being melted into s’mores, is on the brink of cancellation.
The program had garnered sky-high ratings, thanks to Spicer’s talent for physical comedy and his character’s signature malapropisms.
In one memorable episode, the man-shaped mass of sugar and gelatin set out to condemn a Syrian dictator for using chemical weapons against his own people — and ended up praising the restraint Adolf Hitler showed in never using poison gas “on his own people,” (the press secretary assured reporters that he was aware of what the Nazis did at their “Holocaust centers”). In another installment, he nearly caused a market panic by misrepresenting the president’s tax plan.
But ratings aren’t everything — and Spicer’s antics have undermined his employer’s broader interests, as Politico reports:
President Donald Trump is considering scaling back White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s public role, according to several officials familiar with the president’s thinking, as Trump also weighs a broader shakeup of his communications shop in the wake of several scandals … He is no longer expected to do a daily, on-camera briefing after Trump’s foreign trip, which begins Friday, the officials said … Plagued by crises that are engulfing his administration, Trump, in recent weeks, has been increasingly pointing his finger at the communications department to explain the administration’s failings.
In all seriousness: Sean Spicer is bad at his job. But his job is impossible. And the fact that Trump blames anyone but himself for the communications failures of the past week is a testament to his extraordinary capacity for self-delusion.
The president gave his communications team just one hour’s notice before firing the FBI director investigating his campaign. Then, after every White House surrogate — including the president himself — lined up behind a story that pinned responsibility for the decision on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Trump went on national television and said Rosenstein was irrelevant.
The president proceeded to admit that he was thinking about how much he resented the investigation into his campaign when he decided to fire Comey, a statement that (arguably constituted) a confession to obstruction of justice.
Next, Trump tried to intimidate his former FBI director into silence by threatening to release secret recordings of their conversations — a claim that his surrogates had no legally sound means of publicly defending.
Nevertheless, the president remains convinced that he is own best surrogate.
“We don’t have press conferences,” Trump suggested, in an interview with Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro last week. “We just don’t have them. Unless I have them every two weeks and do it myself.”
Trump isn’t actually prepared to go that far, according to Politico. Instead, the White House will likely give Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders more time at the podium.
But even if this were the end of Spicer’s run, his finest episodes would still live on, through the internet’s infinite syndication.