There’s a new chief of staff in the White House and changes in personnel are being made. Case in point – Stephanie Grisham is going back to the East Wing of the White House as First Lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff and spokesperson. She’ll no longer be working for the First Couple simultaneously.
Less than a year ago Grisham moved from working as Melania Trump’s spokesperson to White House press secretary, though she was also to remain a spokesperson for the first lady. Last week Axios reported that Grisham’s days as press secretary were numbered and mentioned two possible replacements. Two names under consideration were reported to be Kayleigh McEnany and Pentagon spokesperson Alyssa Farah.
According to CBS News, Grisham will be replaced by Trump campaign national spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany.
Multiple sources had told CBS News that McEnany and Pentagon spokesperson Alyssa Farah were the top contenders to replace Grisham. Farah previously held top communications roles for new chief of staff Mark Meadows and Vice President Mike Pence.
“I am excited to welcome Stephanie back to the team in this new role,” the first lady said in a statement. “She has been a mainstay and true leader in the administration from even before day one, and I know she will excel as Chief of Staff.”
Mark Meadows, the new White House Chief of Staff is reassessing personnel, as happens when a new person takes over that role. McEnany is a good choice. A former CNN contributor, she is experienced in dealing with members of The Resistance in the press and media personalities. There’s a twist in the story, though. Last week when this story began circulating, Grisham dismissed it by saying it was just a story of “palace intrigue”. Then she noted the irony, if true, of first learning about it from the press.
“But I’ve also been in quarantine. If true, how ironic that the press secretary would hear about being replaced in the press,” she said. Grisham had self-quarantined at her home after she was one of several people, including President Trump, who came into contact with a Brazilian official who later tested positive for coronavirus. Grisham’s test was negative.
Ironic, indeed. Stephanie Grisham was often criticized for not holding White House press briefings. As a matter of fact, she didn’t hold a single one. The question though is are the daily press briefings even necessary in the Age of Trump? President Trump is perfectly happy being his own spokesperson. He delights in using his Twitter account as a way of cutting out the middle person and speaking directly to the American people. Supporters and the opposition alike follow him on Twitter, trying to not miss out on anything he says. Has anyone really missed the traditional press briefings with a press secretary?
In the Age of Trump, White House press briefings have become a time for some reporters to have their fifteen minutes of fame. Reporters no longer try to disguise their own personal political opinions in the name of professional journalism. Few reporters are able to participate without looking like they are more concerned about a gotcha question against the president, his administration, or even the press secretary herself or himself. A prime example of this behavior is CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta. He’s even written a book about covering Trump though the president is not even finished with his first term. He’s not the only one to do that, he’s just the most obvious example.
During the Great Hunkering Down period of the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump and his coronavirus task force have been giving daily press briefings. He’s been so good at it that his approval ratings are up and his harshest critics in cable news, CNN and MSNBC, decided to stop carrying them in their entirety. Imagine that – cable news networks so unhinged about a president that they don’t bother to cover press briefings concerning a pandemic. It is as though they cheer for failure just to be able to say Trump couldn’t handle the crisis. Those networks are only too happy to do puff piece interviews with the likely Democrat nominee Joe Biden, though.
If Kayleigh McEnany and Trump decide she will bring back regular press briefings, I think she’ll do just fine. It might even be entertaining. Going into the November election, she is a good choice.