Former Republican National Committee Communications Director Sean Spicer has been tapped to be President-elect Donald Trump's press secretary.Trump also filled the other major roles of his press operation, giving the top slots to his most loyal and senior communications advisers from the campaign.
Last week, Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, was asked to defend Donald Trump's most brazen conflict-of-interest controversies. Spicer, ever the loyal partisan, came with an argument no one had ever heard (or tried) before: if we can see the president-elect's conflicts, they don't really exist.Spicer argued, with a straight face, "Conflicts of interest arise when you're sneaky about it, when you're shady about it, when you're not transparent about it." The argument was creative, but bizarre: because Trump's misdeeds are visible, and the president-elect is trying to exploit his office for personal and family profit in plain sight, the controversy is unimportant.I thought at the time that Spicer's willingness to spin such a ridiculous tale was worthy of some kind of reward. Evidently, the president-elect agrees.
For those unfamiliar with Spicer's RNC work, his track record suggests White House press briefings are likely to be ... different.For example, one of my favorite Sean Spicer stories came in July, when Melania Trump was caught plagiarizing Michelle Obama. Spicer, again motivated by partisan loyalty, rolled out the "My Little Pony" defense: "Melania Trump said, 'The strength of your dreams and willingness to work for them," Spicer told CNN. "Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony said, 'This is your dream. Anything you can do in your dream you can do now.'"Several months later, I still wonder if Spicer was confused about the meaning of "plagiarism" -- and what the "My Little Pony" reference was supposed to prove.I also loved the time Spicer argued, "[I]n the last three years alone, 13 times, the Supreme Court, unanimously, 9-0, including all of the president's liberal picks, have struck down the president's executive orders." The actual number of Obama executive orders struck down by the Supreme Court was zero, not 13; Spicer just didn't know what he was talking about.There was also the time Spicer said Democrats were practically "unpatriotic" for using the phrase "war on women" when there are "millions of Americans who actually have engaged in a real war." He couldn't explain, however, why the RNC was perfectly comfortable using the phrase "war on coal."More recently, after Trump was caught lying about voter fraud in this year's presidential election, Spicer said, "There was a Washington Post story not too along ago that showed the number [of fraudulent votes cast] could be as high as 14 percent." The Post hadn't actually published any such piece; Spicer was completely wrong.And let's not overlook Spicer's quote from just last week, when he said Hillary Clinton was partly to blame for Russia's intervention in the U.S. presidential election because she used the wrong email server "protocols." That didn't make any sense at all: the DNC's email system was not hosted on Clinton's server, John Podesta's email account was through Google, and Spicer's argument was effectively gibberish.The White House press briefing room may never be the same.