The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump is now on pace to have 11 communications directors in his first term

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks leaves the U.S. Capitol after attending the House Intelligence Committee closed-door meeting in Washington on Feb. 27. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Saying that President Trump’s communications directors average 88 days on the job is to misrepresent the tenures of Trump’s communications directors. One of the three who’ve actually held the position formally lasted 85 days, about on the mark. One lasted at least 170 days — that’s Hope Hicks, the one whose upcoming departure was announced Wednesday. And one lasted 10 days, the infamous Anthony Scaramucci, who roared through the White House last July. So it’s a bit like saying that Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz and I have on average about 10 Olympic gold medals. I, like Scaramucci, don’t contribute much to that total.

It’s not inaccurate, though. Of the 400-odd days that Trump has been president, he’s had a full-time communications director for 265 of them. The rest of the time, Hicks or former press secretary Sean Spicer was filling in.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In December 2016, a few weeks before the inauguration, Trump tapped Jason Miller — who’d led his communications effort at the tail end of the campaign — to serve permanently in the role. Two days later, though, Miller stepped aside thanks to revelations about his personal life that you can just go ahead and Google if you’re so interested.

It’s hard not to read into this regular turnover some link to the White House’s constant struggle to effectively communicate what it’s trying to do. Certainly a lot of that is because of the mercurial nature of the president, but some of it has to fall at the feet of the people whose job it is to direct communications on his behalf.

Over the course of his eight years, Barack Obama had four communications directors, the total Trump will hit once Hicks’s replacement is named. Over his eight years, George W. Bush had the same number.

On average, Trump’s communications directors — excluding Miller and the acting directors — are lasting the same length of time as has passed from the beginning of December until now. The gap between them has been about 45 days or so.

In other words, by the time Trump is up for reelection in 2020, he will be in between his 10th and 11th communications directors, if these averages hold. If you haven’t updated your resume, you might as well give it a shot.