Though the mainstream media seemed to find some catharsis in White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s resignation Friday, it quickly became clear that very little will change under the new White House communications regime.
Spicer resigned almost immediately after the White House announced it was bringing in Anthony Scaramucci, former vice president and chief strategy officer at the Export-Import Bank, as its new communications director. The White House announced later Friday that Sarah Huckabee Sanders would take over for Spicer as press secretary.
Journalists, both from within and outside the political realm, took the opportunity to make jokes at Spicer’s expense and take shots at the rest of the administration.
How quickly can someone make a mash up of Spicer’s best moments set to Time of Your Life by Green Day. @MattNegrin
— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) July 21, 2017
— Ariel Edwards-Levy (@aedwardslevy) July 21, 2017
“you cannot pardon yourself for what you made me do” Sean Spicer mutters as the door slams
— Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) July 21, 2017
sessions would resign too but he loves punishing minorities more than he hates working for trump
— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) July 21, 2017
Many of the journalists commenting on Spicer’s resignation made some variation of the same joke about how much they will miss Melissa McCarthy’s famous Spicer impression on “Saturday Night Live.”
Condolences to Melissa McCarthy
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) July 21, 2017
Kristen Wiig? Maybe Jenny Slate could handle this one? Or Taryn Manning? pic.twitter.com/M2S8BqBGaF
— emily nussbaum (@emilynussbaum) July 21, 2017
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) July 21, 2017
After the initial jabs were out of the way, journalists began parsing the reasons for Spicer’s sudden departure. Politico ran a scathing headline: “Inside the 24 Hours that Broke Sean Spicer.”
“The wham-bam events of the past 24 hours were exceptional even by Trump’s standards,” Josh Dawsey wrote, mentioning other issues also dogging the White House, including the ongoing Russia investigation.
Other outlets, like the Washington Post, also tried to present the communications swap as an example of the constant state of flux the White House appears to be in.
“President Trump overhauled his White House on Friday in a dramatic shake-up of his senior team at the six-month mark of his presidency, which so far has been beset by a special counsel’s widening Russia investigation, a floundering legislative agenda and seemingly constant chaos and infighting within his West Wing,” the Post reported.
Spicer himself weighed in on the situation, first telling ABC News that he was “relieved” and “I look forward to spending a lot of time with my family.”
Spicer expanded on the circumstances surrounding his resignation Friday evening on “Hannity.”
“It was of our best interest … to not have too many cooks in the kitchen,” he explained. His goal was to “give Anthony and Sarah a clean slate to start from so they can talk about the president’s agenda and move forward.”
He also said that Trump in no way forced him to leave.
“He’s an unbelievably gracious individual,” Spicer said. “He wanted to make sure it was in my best interest as well. He’s always thinking of others.”
That tracked with Trump’s tweet earlier in the day praising Spicer as a person, contradicting the media’s portrayal of chaos in the White House communications office.
Sean Spicer is a wonderful person who took tremendous abuse from the Fake News Media – but his future is bright!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2017
Spicer used the “Hannity” interview to take one parting shot at the mainstream media.
“I think most people aren’t really privy to how stories are developed and what stories make it to the front page,” he said. “And I think they would be shocked and disappointed to see the bias that exists in what stories aren’t told and the manner some are told.”
For his part, Scaramucci used his first appearance before the White House press corps to show that he and Spicer share similar views on the press.
“There feels like there’s a little bit of media bias, and so what we hope we can do is de-escalate that and turn that around,” he said at the podium. “And let’s let the message from the president get out there to the American people.”
As journalists began to learn more about Scaramucci via his old tweets, they found that he had a surprising amount of tweets contradicting Trump’s agenda and a penchant for tweeting inspirational quotes that were easy targets for snarky comments from reporters.
tweet like you will never serve in a public capacity https://t.co/kxsfOcTMto
— Ariel Edwards-Levy (@aedwardslevy) July 21, 2017
On Saturday, Scaramucci said he was deleting some of his old tweets because his “past views evolved & shouldn’t be a distraction.” Commenters pointed out that though he claimed he was doing it for the sake of “full transparency,” he was accomplishing quite the opposite.
Deleting records (even of “past views”) is literally the opposite of transparency. https://t.co/xsm4LpgB6T
— Keegan Stephan (@KeeganNYC) July 22, 2017
The net result of Friday’s changing of the guard was replacing one press secretary who openly criticized the media with a communications director who once advocated for state-run TV and a new press secretary who once said of Trump’s Twitter habits, “This is a president who fights fire with fire and certainly will not be allowed to be bullied by liberal media.”
But hey, Scaramucci thinks that if he fixes the White House’s “communications problem,” Trump might start tweeting less. Silver linings.