The empty speaker podium in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty

Why it’s tough to be optimistic about Sarah Sanders’ successor

When White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders recently announced her resignation – her last day is Friday – there was some speculation about whether Donald Trump would bother to hire her successor. The press secretary’s principal responsibility is holding a daily briefing with reporters, and Trump and Sanders effectively scrapped that traditional practice.

Nevertheless, First Lady Melania Trump announced yesterday that her own communications director, Stephanie Grisham, will now serve as White House press secretary. One of the most surprising aspects of the news is just how many jobs Grisham will hold. The New York Times reported:

Ms. Grisham will also take on the added role of communications director, a job that has been vacant since the departure of Bill Shine in March, and will keep her role in the East Wing.

Dating back to Trump’s presidential transition period, Grisham will be the seventh person the Republican has tapped to serve as the White House’s communications director.

By some accounts, Grisham also intends to “maintain her current role as the first lady’s chief spokeswoman.”

There have been jokes for months about acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney holding multiple positions at once, and it now appears that those same jokes can apply to the president’s new chief spokesperson.

Just as important is the degree to which Grisham fits in among her Team Trump colleagues. The Washington Post added:

Stephanie Grisham, the newly named White House press secretary, is a lot like her predecessor, Sarah Sanders, and her boss, President Trump: combative, critical of the news media, and unafraid to say so.

Grisham developed a reputation as a pugnacious defender of Melania Trump and a critic of the press during her tenure as communications director for the first lady.

Before joining the Trumps, Grisham also did press work on behalf of Republicans in Arizona – where she also had strained relations with local journalists.

Looking ahead, those wondering what the White House’s relationship with the press will be like over the next year and a half should probably keep their expectations low.