After Comey, who should Trump fire next? Sean Spicer

  • Sean Spicer has been making things worse for President Trump since day one.
  • But the question was: Who could replace him?
  • Now we know the answer is: Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Sean Spicer
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Sean Spicer

Sally Yates. Mike Flynn. Preet Bharara. James Comey. The list is growing of how many people President Trump has fired since he's been in office. But now, it's time to add one more: Sean Spicer.

It's been pretty apparent for a while that President Trump needs to fire the White House press secretary. The simple reason is that Spicer is failing in his duties to communicate effectively and was consistently making his own performance on the job the story. The only trouble was, it wasn't readily apparent who could take his place. Now it is.

Enter Sarah Huckabee Sanders, daughter of the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, and fill-in spokesperson at the White House this week. To put it simply, Huckabee Sanders has been doing a fine job.

Meanwhile Spicer is, well... apparently hiding in the bushes.

Of course, whoever holds the press secretary job is probably of little importance to actual voters, and mentally healthy non-politicos. This is especially true with a social media-addicted president who has rather brilliantly sidestepped the need for a great deal of what the White House press corps does in the first place.

But the press secretary's job performance is still crucial because if it falters, it can provide a distraction from any given president's agenda. The press secretary needs to be there to put out public relations fires. He or she may not succeed at doing that most of the time, especially with the clearly anti-Trump mainstream media. But the worst thing that can happen is having someone in the job who creates new fires on his or her own. And in fewer than five months on the job, Spicer has started more fires than a kid playing with matches in a paper factory.

Let's just recap some of his biggest verbal blunders:

  • Starting off on day one with an embarrassing and baseless tirade on the size of the crowd at the Trump inauguration. That one earned him the "honor" of being portrayed by Melissa McCarthy on "Saturday Night Live" more than once and an infamous "Four Pinocchio" rating from the Washington Post's fact-checker Glenn Kessler.
  • Insisting to the news media that President Trump's travel ban on people from seven countries was not a "ban," even though President Trump used that exact word to describe it.
  • And the all-time No. 1 entry into his personal Hall of Shame was when he said: "You had someone as despicable as Hitler didn't even sink to using chemical weapons."

Add to that Spicer's odd avoidance of the news media Tuesday by apparently hiding at least partially in the White House bushes (He later clarified that he was actually among the bushes, not IN the bushes), and you can see what it's past time for a change.

Change is what we saw this week. Huckabee Sanders didn't just fill in for Spicer on any normal day. Wednesday, she took his place just hours after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 10, 2017.
Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images
Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 10, 2017.

She didn't convert any of the reporters in the press room into Trump supporters or tamp down the furor over this story. But she certainly had a less confrontational demeanor. And most importantly, she seemed comfortably at ease in the job while Spicer often appears ready to blow at any moment.

Huckabee Sanders also does a good job of making encounters with the press, well... boring. That's right, boring. And that's a compliment. A presidential administration doesn't want an exciting spokesperson; that's the president's role and the president's alone.

Trump has said in the past that he won't fire Spicer because "that guy gets great ratings."

But that's not a good enough reason. This is reality, not a reality show. If anyone but a professional journalist finds the daily White House gaggle interesting, then something very wrong is going on in the White House. Everything about Huckabee Sanders' delivery, from her tone to her very simple answers and ability to smoothly bounce from one questioner to another helps achieve that boring requirement. President Obama's press secretary Josh Earnest was a master of this technique as well.

The Trump administration, simply as a matter of public safety, has to do something to ease the anti-Trump hysteria so prevalent in the political world right now. Spicer has been adding to it. Huckabee Sanders can stop the bleeding at least on one important front. It's time to give this understudy the full-time job.

Commentary by Jake Novak, senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

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