It doesn’t matter how terrible the press, the public or even President Donald Trump’s closest advisers think Sean Spicer is at his job as Press Secretary. He’s not being fired—and that’s according to Trump himself.
The embattled White House press liaison has had a rough first 100 days, culminating in a bizarre incident where Spicer claimed Trump’s bombing of a Syrian airfield was justified because Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons the way Bashar al-Assad did.
But, it turns out, Spicer could do much worse than argue with his press pool about the relative merits of Nazi strategy and Donald Trump still wouldn’t make him pack up his office. That’s because, according to Trump, Spicer gets the desired result: an engaged audience that tunes in daily.
“I’m not firing Sean Spicer,” Trump said when asked, according to a White House source speaking to the Washington Post. “That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in.”
He’s not wrong, really. Everyone does tune in to Spicer’s daily briefings—but not to get the word from the White House about the news of the day. It’s no secret that Trump measures his success in column inches rather than in achievements. But it is kind of jarring that Trump doesn’t consider whether his White House is effectively communicating with the American people a measure by which his White House communications department should be judged.
After all, in an administration fraught with troubles (and leaks), it’s been Trump’s dismal communication strategy—preferring Twitter over formal statements, failing to hire a full communications staff, and crafting shoddy messaging around controversial policies—that has resulted in some of the worst moments in his first 100 days.
He’d do well to overhaul any office responsible for explaining why he wants to temporarily halt immigration from terrorist-sponsoring countries, for example.
At least Spicer should be at ease, though: To keep his job, he just keeps to continue commanding the afternoon cable news bloc with his biting commentary.