Before she accepted the job of White House press secretary under President Trump, Stephanie Grisham would have been well advised to take a peek at the Twitter bio of Sean Spicer. He was the first disastrous press secretary to toil under Trump. His bio reads: “President of RigWil, Sr Advisor @AmericaFirstPAC check out seanspicer.com Horrable speller, @RedSox/@Patriots fan. Author of #TheBriefing.”
Which is to say, Spicer’s career has lost some altitude since his lie-filled half-year fronting for the Trump administration. From his first day on the job, Spicer found that his mission was to lie on behalf of the president, which is why he attempted to revise the historicity of Trump’s inaugural crowd. Things never got better.
Grisham — communications director for first lady Melania Trump — was surely watching the sequel under press secretary Sarah Sanders. So distasteful was the work of briefing the media that Sanders often brought in administration officials to gobble up time, and she made sure to usually limit her own appearances to about 20 minutes. There was always some reason or other that she had to hurry through the proceedings.
And like Spicer, Sanders lied in accordance with the job’s requirements. There’s no alternative when the boss is a full-time liar who demands 100 percent loyalty. For example, the Mueller report nailed her lying in defense of the president’s decision to fire then-FBI Director James B. Comey in May 2017; Sanders claimed that “countless” FBI officials had contacted the White House in support of the firing. Total garbage.
Sanders hasn’t held a formal press briefing since the Mueller report. It has been 105 days since the last briefing.
Grisham isn’t merely sliding into Sanders’s shrinking portfolio; she’ll also serve as White House communications director, a position geared toward strategizing for future rollouts, announcements and the like. On top of all that, Grisham will also stay on as spokeswoman for the first lady.
As Sarah Ellison noted in this Post profile, Grisham was a “lowly” wrangler for the Trump-following press starting in 2015 and has stuck around. She’s known for her strong counterattacks to bad press as well as skilled infighting. In fall 2018, staffers for the first lady grappled with deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel as they prepared for Melania Trump’s Africa trip. East Wing complaints about Ricardel landed on deaf ears, so Grisham released this stunner of a statement about Ricardel: “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.” Ricardel was soon gone.
Back in 2012, Grisham did a stint on the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, a fellow who poses a contrast with Trump. As Republicans went, Romney wasn’t big on media-blaming. But times have changed:
Once you go a little in on “fake news,” why not go all in on “fake news”?
Commentators are now riffing on Grisham’s background and tendencies in an effort to divine what’s ahead. Yet we know what’s ahead: more vigorous defense of lying. Perhaps Grisham will do it with a little more or a little less poise than Sanders. What a cliffhanger.