Democracy Dies in Darkness

The Fix | Analysis

With Hope Hicks out, 5 people have done 6 stints as Trump’s communications director that lasted an average of 70 days

By Callum Borchers

February 28, 2018 at 5:09 PM

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Officials announced on Feb. 28 that Hope Hicks will resign. She had been White House communications director since Sept. 2017. (The Washington Post)

On Dec. 22, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump picked Jason Miller to be his White House communications director. Miller resigned on Christmas Eve.

Sean Spicer, already set to become White House press secretary, agreed to pull double duty until a replacement could be found.

On Feb. 17, 2017, President Trump announced the hiring of Mike Dubke as communications director. Dubke quit three months later.

Again, Spicer took over on an interim basis.

On July 21, 2017, Trump installed Anthony Scaramucci. Just 10 days later, the president ousted his new hire.

The position remained vacant for a couple of weeks, until Trump gave the gig to longtime aide Hope Hicks on an interim basis. Hicks soon ditched the “interim” label.

Then, on Wednesday, she ditched the job entirely after 196 days. She lasted far longer than any of her predecessors.

Since Trump's election, five people have now done six stints as his communications director. Average duration: 70 days. Life as a Trump spokesman is hard and often short.

Scaramucci, a loquacious businessman, is the stylistic opposite of Dubke, a veteran political hand who preferred to direct messaging from behind the scenes. Neither approach worked out.

Trump spokesmen who hold other titles often struggle, too. Spicer resigned his post as press secretary on the day that Scaramucci became communications director, making his run as presidential frontman one of the shortest in history.

Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s original campaign manager and a top TV surrogate, was fired after a year. His replacement, campaign chairman Paul Manafort, lasted just two months.

Manafort’ successor, Kellyanne Conway, remains a Trump adviser but has had ups and downs as a spokeswoman. She was reportedly benched from TV for a week last February, though she denied that her absence was related to appearances that attracted negative attention.

Katrina Pierson, who was Trump’s principal spokeswoman in the final year of the campaign, turned down an offer to join the White House communications team.

There are exceptions to the rule. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s current press secretary, has shown uncommon endurance; she joined Trump’s staff two years ago and has survived changes all around her.

Hicks, who did not speak publicly for the president but often handled media inquiries, had been a top communications aide since Trump launched his campaign in 2015.

Of course, Trump’s all-time favorite “spokesmen” predated his run for president: John Barron and John Miller were the fake names he sometimes assumed to pose as his own publicist in phone interviews.

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Leaks, threats and insults. And it lasted less than two weeks. Here's a look back at the very short tenure of the former White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci. (Victoria Walker, Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post)

Callum Borchers covered the intersection of politics and media. He left The Washington Post in June 2018. He joined The Post in 2015 from the Boston Globe, where his beats included national politics, technology and the business of sports. He is a former editor of Citizen's News in Naugatuck, Conn.

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The Fix | Analysis

With Hope Hicks out, 5 people have done 6 stints as Trump’s communications director that lasted an average of 70 days

By Callum Borchers

February 28, 2018 at 5:09 PM

Watch more!
Officials announced on Feb. 28 that Hope Hicks will resign. She had been White House communications director since Sept. 2017. (The Washington Post)

On Dec. 22, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump picked Jason Miller to be his White House communications director. Miller resigned on Christmas Eve.

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