No job at the White House is expected to be easy – and the press secretary role is no different. Josh Earnest, former press secretary to President Barack Obama, knows this all too well. That’s why he’s not giving present Press Secretary Sean Spicer any passes. During an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter on April 24, Earnest said that he doesn’t “feel a ton of sympathy” for Spicer, because he was well aware of Donald Trump’s leadership style from his experience on the campaign.
Spicer has repeatedly come under fire for his wildly inaccurate attempts to spin stories and for hawking downright lies. But, as Earnest points out, it’s simply the nature of working for someone as mercurial as President Trump. Attempting to differentiate between his job and Spicer’s, Earnest explained that the president sets the tone for how a secretary interacts with the press.
“Sean’s job is different because he works for somebody who is famously thin-skinned and somebody who has demonstrated over and over again that he doesn’t care that much about telling the truth,” Earnest said to Selter. “And who, at least in some of his record, doesn’t appear to have much of an appreciation for how important independent journalism is in the success to our democracy. That’s what makes our approaches so different.”
Later in the interview, Earnest explained why he does not sympathize with Spicer as he encounters an onslaught of criticism. “Sean’s not the victim of a bait and switch. It’s not like he met President Trump on his first day,” Earnest said. “It’s not as if Sean met President Trump on Sean’s first day of the White House. Sean worked for the Trump campaign and the RNC and the transition. He knew what he was getting into.”
Earnest did, however, concede that he does view anonymous leaked criticism of Spicer as unbeneficial for the entire administration’s effort to push their policies. “The job of being the White House press secretary is hard enough without having people that are supposed to be on your team criticizing you and undermining you in public,” Earnest added.
Despite Spicer’s ever-growing list of gaffes and failures, Trump has refused to fire him. According to The Washington Post, Trump is not inclined to replace Spicer because he gets “great ratings” and everyone “tunes in.”
This wouldn’t be the first time Trump has prioritized TV viewership over ethics.