Serving as the White House press secretary is a famously difficult job. You are the front line of defense for the president and his administration, often taking the incoming of reporters day after day because, well, that's the job. There's a reason, after all, that a flak jacket is your ceremonial welcome gift.
So, Sean Spicer, President Trump's press secretary, knew what he was getting into when he took the position. But there's no way he could have known it would be this bad.
Spicer is taking the usual slings and arrows from reporters. And he has been spoofed — brilliantly — on “Saturday Night Live.” Neither of those things have made his job miserable, however. That honor goes to the constant leaking out of the White House that suggests Trump is less than enamored with how Spicer looks, how he sounds and how he is doing the job.
The latest piece of friendly fire came Tuesday night from CNN in a piece headlined: “White House ramping up search for communications director after Spicer's rocky start.” There's a bunch of brutal quotes in the piece. Here's a sampling:
* White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus “vouched for Spicer and against Trump's instincts. The president 'regrets it every day and blames Priebus,' ” one source close to the hiring process told CNN's Jim Acosta.
* “Multiple sources have told CNN that Spicer was not Trump's first choice for press secretary. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was offered the position but turned it down.”
* “A source familiar with internal communications said President Donald Trump is disappointed in Spicer's performance during the first two weeks of the administration.”
It's a rough read. Particularly when you consider that (a) Spicer has been on the job for just a few weeks and (b) this is far from the first story in which Trump's dissatisfaction with Spicer has been made plain.
We've learned, through a series of administration leaks, that Trump doesn't think Spicer is a forceful enough advocate of the administration's policies, doesn't dress the part, fumbles over his words too much, looked bad because he was portrayed by a woman on SNL, wasn't his first choice for the job and needs a lot of help. And that's only since Trump was sworn in on Jan. 20!
Imagine if you started a job less than a month ago and you found out your boss said all of those things or, hell, any one of those things about you. You'd be crushed. Now add these facts: (1) You are the single most visible face of the Trump administration — besides the president himself — and (2) You know that every reporter you deal with has read all of the stories in which your boss undermines you.
Now add one last cherry on top: Your boss is continually monitoring and judging your every word, facial expression and wardrobe choice.
Not exactly a fun situation, right?
The truth is that even if Trump had gotten his first choice as press secretary — because of all the leaks, we know he didn't — the chief executive probably would still be unhappy with his or her performance. Trump quite clearly thinks he is his own best press secretary, pollster, media consultant, lobbyist and policy guru. In Trump's eyes, no one does it better than him. Not Spicer, not anyone.
The problem for Spicer is that he is the only White House press secretary right now. He's the only one being put in an impossible situation by his boss and some unnamed colleagues of his. He's the one with the worst job in Washington.