Sarah Cowgill


Sarah Cowgill specializes in political writing as is a former speech-writer for U.S. Senators, Congressmen, and even a U.S. Vice President.

Sean Spicer may very well be the next casualty of the tumultuous Trump administration as tensions mount for the beleaguered spokesman.  It has been an unprecedented three months of vicious attacks from the establishment media, and social media blowback has been utterly unforgiving for an employee serving his country in a professional way.  But the sticks and stones lobbed at Spicer won’t be what breaks the man–that’s child’s play for a seasoned media guy and Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves.   Spicer’s impending burnout will be triggered by his boss, President Trump.

The mechanics of a successful press secretary are effective and persuasive public speaking, well researched and verifiable information, an ability to engage the media, and, especially in political situations, a deep trust with the elected official.   Most press secretaries, whether for a councilman in a small town or the president of the most powerful country on earth, have an all-access pass to the chief.  There are no layers of bureaucrats to wade through which allows the message to remain undiluted and unspoiled by differing opinion or influence.

Nice job if you can get it, right?  Seems simple enough.  Uh, not if you work for President Trump.  Trump has a style no other politician has shown the public.  And although it is refreshing to the weary populace who have witnessed the making of political Stepford Wives for far too long (You remember that 1970’s sci-fi about roboting the perfect wife?), it is exhausting to watch.  The President is a master at communicating the big picture, but more of a court jester juggling plates, chain saws and hand grenades with the wholly necessary minutiae.  And minutiae are grist for the media mill.  Remember the inaugural attendance bruhaha?  It was the pesky little details that gave the apoplectic media the vapors:

We do know a few things, so let’s go through the facts. We know that from the platform where the President was sworn in, to 4th Street, it holds about 250,000 people. From 4th Street to the media tent is about another 220,000. And from the media tent to the Washington Monument, another 250,000 people. All of this space was full when the President took the Oath of Office. We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural. This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe. Even the New York Times printed a photograph showing a misrepresentation of the crowd in the original Tweet in their paper, which showed the full extent of the support, depth in crowd, and intensity that existed.

It might have been too bulky a comment for the press corps to digest, and, in his defense, it was his first official day.  Admittedly, Spicer has made some missteps along the way.  After all, he is human.  One of our own, LibertyNation.com’s Graham Noble, breaks down that falsely reported Hitler comment Spicer made with, amazingly enough, verifiable facts.  If you want to argue on social media about the incident, or see what pop icon Barbra Streisand had to say, I suggest you read this article for ammunition.  You are welcome.

Trump has become infamous with his snarky, barb-filled tweets after midnight, and his actions create the early morning challenge of calming the presidentially-induced chaos.  And while Spicer is in the Brady Briefing Room communicating the President’s message, Trump is often real-time tweeting different information.  Spicer is a professional, and the odds are that he does not have the Twitter app on, scanning for Trumpisms, while at the podium answering questions from reporters.   Not only has the spokesman been caught off guard by Trump’s circumvented communications, but he has come under fire from the boss for conflicting or confusing messages in daily briefings:

Trump has reportedly been frustrated with how White House press secretary Sean Spicer has handled Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey amid the bureau’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election. 

During an interview with Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, to air on Saturday, Trump suggested he moves too quickly for his communications staff.

Mr. President, did you perhaps imply that you move too erratically?  Yes, Sir, that’s how it appears.

Trump has a tough job, too, and has admitted being the leader of the free world is not as easy as that of overlord of a global empire.  But most of his stressors are self-induced.  Sean Spicer, in his position and proximity to the Oval Office, is lacking the respect from Trump that he deserves.  And he should be revered as a confidant, not a lackey.  Making off-hand comments deriding your spokesman, is both juvenile, and undermines your own agenda.  Trump recently tweeted (of course), “As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!”

Oh, but it is possible.  It’s been done before, and America would like to see that position resurrected to one of duly earned importance.  But Trump must work in conjunction with Spicer, instead of emasculating him in response to frustrations that his unfettered actions have caused.

This past week, Trump threatened to halt the daily briefing, remove his ‘surrogates’ and stated in the interview with Judge Jeanine, “Well, just don’t have them.”  Even Judge Jeanine, a proud and vocal supporter of Trump, was agape with disbelief, and countered him:

“You don’t mean that,” Pirro responded.

“Well, just don’t have them,” Trump said. “Unless I have them every two weeks and I do them myself, we don’t have them. I think it’s a good idea!”

No, it is a terrible idea, Mr. President, or as Barbra Streisand might say, Oy Vey.

As I stated above, it’s all about trust.  And it’s clear that Trump is lacking that confidence in most of his West Wing staff, second guessing, diminishing their skills, and failing or refusing to protect them as critical assets to the administration.  It’s a dangerous game, to allow an outsider into the inner circle, but past administrations have valued the role of press secretary and have not had the blowback that Trump has experienced.  Frankly, no one would be surprised if Ivanka or husband Jared Kushner took over the position as blood is thicker than water with the Trump tribe.  But Sean Spicer is an asset and has graciously fallen on his sword for the sake of protecting the president, without rancor, and with humility.  Trump could learn a lot from this man if he will tamp down his ego, and realize he is not the press secretary.  He is the president.