Spicer, Scaramucci, and Trump's communications strategy, explained
The read of the day tells you everything you need to know about the downsides of the White House communications strategy and does so with insight and wit. Andrew Malcolm's column for McClatchy this week gets to the heart of the matter in its title: "Trump is his own communications director but appoints another anyway."
Andrew knows exactly how well run political operations work. And he sees the many weaknesses of Trump's ad hoc, loner approach to presidential communications:
These [White House communications] operations are troubled – chaotic is another word – because Trump knows he knows more than his communications professionals, which makes their team messages garbled and incomprehensible and their jobs untenable. Not only does he know more, he tells others he knows more and bad-mouths his own senior aides. Ask Jeff Sessions.
While Trump staffers are out dutifully explaining one of his recent decisions, unbeknownst to them, he's explaining it differently to others. Media gleefully describe the glaring disparities, maybe even exaggerate them, and probe for delicious inconsistencies. The story then becomes, who said what when, who's telling the truth? See, Shifting Trump stories on James Comey's firing, among others.
And Trump, not being much of a Sherlock Holmes, becomes confounded and angry. He wonders why the White House message isn't getting out clearly. The obvious solution: Talk about firing someone.
We suggested months ago that the person Trump should first fire as his spokesman is Trump.
The arrival of Anthony Scaramucci is explained in terms characteristic of the sardonic tone of the entire piece:
Scaramucci is a 53-year-old businessman and hedge fund operator from – oh, look! – New York. He was a fundraising chair for the short-lived presidential campaign of Gov. Scott Walker and last year posted some unTrumpian tweets, now deleted. Yet another Goldman Sachs alum, he has no professional qualifications whatsoever for his new job, much like his boss. But he is very confident.
Along the way, there are some gems of writing, so be sure to read the whole thing.
I can't dispute the disadvantages in President Trump's shoot-from-the-hip approach, but in trying to understand the logic of his approach, I revert to his past experience as the king of reality television (creator and owner of The Apprentice, not to mention Miss Universe). He is enacting and starring in a reality television show.
He is a performer. He quite clearly thinks out loud in front of audiences, tossing off one-liners such as yesterday's jest about firing the secretary of HHS. This is highly "unpresidential," as are his tweets, as his many critics will tell you. I think we can all agree that this means that no other president ever did it, whatever else we might think about its desirability or effectiveness. Quite clearly, the incumbent POTUS thinks it works just fine. For now.
It may be that Trump has written off conventional media, and the chaos Andrew Malcolm explains is his way of trolling them, diverting their attention to petty matters. They are, in his communications story arc, the fake media.