Sean Spicer resigned from his position as White House press secretary Friday.
Spicer’s resignation comes in response to President Donald Trump’s appointment of New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. Spicer had been acting communications director since Trump took office. Spicer will be replaced by current deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Spicer will continue serving as press secretary through August, according to a statement from Trump.
Spicer was named press secretary for the Trump administration last December. Spicer also served as communications director after Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller refused an offer for the position.
Spicer served six months in the dual role before his resignation.
Although six months is an unusually short term for a press secretary, the job typically has a much higher turnover rate than other executive positions, said Nicholas Browning, an assistant professor of public relations in the Media School.
And it’s a grueling job, Browning said.
“When there’s a failure of getting a clear message out, that secretary — being the face of what that message is — is necessarily going to be the one who faces the brunt of the criticism,” he said. “And not just from the press, but from the president.”
Spicer’s duration as press secretary was marked by conflicting messages from the White House communications team and the president himself, who frequently used his Twitter account to deliver messages.
William Ellis, the county chair for the Monroe County Republican Party, saw Trump’s use of Twitter as a good thing.
“Sean Spicer was a traditional press secretary, and Trump was not a traditional president, and I think they butted heads on that,” he said. “Trump bypasses the traditional messaging.
He uses social media to get it directly to the people.”
The combativeness of the Spicer-era could increase with Scaramucci as communications director, Browning said.
“I think he is not afraid to showcase his loyalty and be combative with the press when necessary and even try to paint the press as an enemy to whatever the president’s agenda may be,” he said. “I think now that you have someone in that position whose number one goal is less about communicating the president’s agenda and more so about making the president look good, I think you’re going to see more and more of that combativeness.”
Despite the shake-up in the White House communications team, local party leaders don’t foresee a huge change in the administration’s future.
“I really don’t think it’s going to impact things too much,” Ellis said. “I think the average American is worried about jobs and getting the economy jumpstarted.”
He said he is encouraged by the work Huckabee Sanders completed earlier for the administration, and said her appointment was a good move.
“You’ve got the news media trying to drive the narrative so the administration definitely has to have someone in the media to push back,” Ellis said.
Mark Fraley, the county chair for the Monroe County Democratic Party, said he thinks the problem is with the administration’s policies, not its communication.
“I think that the key thing here is this is a fundamentally flawed administration with some really perverse ideas,” Fraley said. “There’s no amount of communication shake-up that’s going to change that. If the product is bad, there’s no amount of advertising that’s going to sell it.”
Fraley said things like the ongoing healthcare debate are more important.
“What’s really going to have an effect in Monroe County are the policies coming out of the administration,” he said.
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