I concluded my last post before the Easter break by expressing the hope that some kind person would tell Sean Spicer not to regard The Thick of It as a training video.
Sadly for him, the message doesn’t seem to have got through. Trump’s press secretary hit the headlines worldwide when he justified the US bombing of a Syrian air base by claiming that ”even Adolf Hitler didn’t use gas on his own people”. Unsurprisingly, the White House press corps reacted with a mixture of horror and disbelief. The fact that Spicer had made his comments on Passover, a major Jewish holiday, just made a bad situation even worse.
Spicer predictably spent the next 24 hours apologising for his remarks. Unfortunately that didn’t quite go as planned either. In an effort to explain Trump’s policy on Syria, Spicer told CNN that the President was attempting to destabilise the Middle East. I assume, and seriously hope, that that wasn’t a Freudian slip!
It seems to me that Spicer has broken one of the cardinal rules for a public sector press officer; he has allowed himself to become the story. Many media outlets in the US are openly calling for him to be sacked and one network news anchor went as far as to describe him as the stupidest press secretary in history.
When I first started working in PR, and I do freely admit that it was a long time ago, my first boss told me on my first day that our job was “to prepare the stage on which others perform”. Good advice which Sean Spicer, if he somehow manages to stay in post, would do well to heed.