When Laura Ingraham was in the running to be named White House press secretary in November, the conservative radio host sure sounded like she wanted the job.
“It would be a great privilege to be asked,” Ingraham said during a Nov. 15 appearance on “Fox & Friends” in which she highlighted her qualifications.
Sean Spicer got the gig a month later.
Returning to “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday, following reports that the White House has approached her about replacing Spicer, Ingraham sounded less interested.
“I'm not sure if that's the role I would pick for myself,” she said. “I'm not sure the press secretary thing is something I'm dying to do.”
Kimberly Guilfoyle has pulled a similar reversal. Last month, amid reports that she could take over for Spicer, the co-host of “The Five” on Fox News told the Bay Area News Group that “it would be an honor to serve the country,” while touting her “very good relationship with the president,” which she said is “imperative for success in that position.”
Politico reported on Monday that Guilfoyle doesn't want the job.
What's going on here?
One possibility is that Ingraham and Guilfoyle have truly reconsidered. This seems more plausible in Ingraham's case, since she had not yet witnessed the toll the job took on Spicer when she initially showed interest in the fall. Now, having watched Spicer endure contradictions and criticism from the president — plus ridicule on “Saturday Night Live” — Ingraham might have decided that the position does not look so great, after all.
Guilfoyle had seen plenty by the middle of May. She had witnessed Spicer's strain when she said, “I think it’d be a fascinating job” — and when she mentioned ever-so-casually on her show earlier this month that Trump had called to consult her before walking away from the Paris climate change accord. Maybe she simply enjoyed the flattery of being Spicer's rumored replacement and does not want to be his actual replacement, now that the prospect seems more real.
Another possibility is that Ingraham and Guilfoyle are just playing it cool. It would be too strong to say that getting passed over last year was an embarrassment for Ingraham. A popular radio show, a successful website and a contributing role at Fox News represent a pretty good fallback plan. Still, no one likes the appearance of being rejected; you can't appear to be rejected if you don't appear to be interested.
Same goes for Guilfoyle. She made her interest known a month ago and did not get the job. She also was a candidate last year. This time, for the sake of appearances, it might be better to project indifference.
Because it is hard to know what is really going on in Ingraham and Guilfoyle's heads, it also is hard to know whether the Trump White House will struggle to find a willing spokesman (assuming Spicer does move behind the scenes) or whether eager candidates are trying to save face.