Pray for Sarah Sanders.
Every day (well, not “every” day, anymore), she has to stand before the likes of Jim Acosta and April Ryan and Hallie Jackson and the other assorted enemies of the President who make up the White House press corps and defend her boss’s mostly indefensible Twitter twitches.
It is a thankless task, one that Sanders handles with uncommon courage, confidence and commitment. You may despise her for whom she represents, but you’ve got to admire her for refusing to back down in the face of non-stop venomous attacks from the vacuous vipers focused largely on potential book deals and national recognition.
And if you’re a public relations professional, there’s another thing to admire about Ms. Huckabee Sanders. She is the one and only Trump communications team member with any semblance of credibility.
In point of fact, the Trump presidential public relations team, with the exception of Sanders, is the worst ever assembled.
Trump, himself, of course, has no understanding of or respect for the practice of public relations. And it shows in the rogues’ gallery of glorified glamour pusses and grifters who have contributed to making the Trump Administration the least trusted in history.
Here, in order of “public relations terribleness” are the five worst Trump communications non-professionals.
#1 Omarosa Manigault Newman.
In 2013, TV Guide named reality diva Omarosa among the “60 Nastiest TV Villains of All Time.” Today, of course, she has left those other 59 pretenders in the dust.
What can you say about Omarosa that hasn’t been said about Heinrich Himmler?
She is nasty, scheming, self-serving, insecure, unqualified and unlikeable so naturally, Trump chose her for a communications position. Specifically, he named her director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, a pretend job with no discernible responsibilities and plenty of free time to plot the next moves to extend her 15 minutes.
After her inevitable firing, Omarosa immediately bit the only hand crazed enough to feed her. Her tell-all book, surreptitious tapes and never-ending appearances on every news station yearning for Trump’s downfall (which is just about every one of ‘em left of Fox!) cemented her position as worst White House communications hire ever.
#2 Katrina Pierson
Right behind Omarosa in Trump’s communications twit parade is someone with whom you may not be familiar but will be if the President runs for reelection.
Katrina Pierson was Trump’s lead attack spokesperson in the last campaign, who gave anchors fits by never shutting up. Her qualifications for the job included being a single mother, who was arrested once for shoplifting. Pierson lobbied vigorously to be White House press secretary but, in a rare moment of common sense, the Trump Administration declined. Nonetheless, Pierson is poised to regain her old job if Trump runs again.
Or at least “was” poised before she fell victim to the diabolical Omarosa, who revealed a tape of Pierson apparently agreeing that Trump had used the dreaded “N-word.” Pierson, at least smart enough to realize that such a tape would not help her 2020 employment prospects, immediately took to the friendly confines of Fox News to deny the claim of her nasty former colleague.
But that’s when things really turned south. She refused to let moderate moderator Ed Henry get a word in, yelled over him when he tried to ask legitimate questions and succeeded, in jaw-dropping fashion, to alienate the formerly-sympathetic Fox host and turn lemonade into lemons.
#3 Corey Lewandowski
The President’s former campaign manager and current public relations mogul is yet another Trump pugnacious communications surrogate who leads with his lip. Like his client, Corey Lewandowski knows everything about everything. Just ask him.
Which is what some unsuspecting reporter did at a journalist forum this month, wanting to know if someone with the President’s wealth and privilege could really empathize with ordinary Americans.
Of course, answered spokesman Lewandowski, who proceeded to recount the heartwarming story of candidate Trump “driving his Rolls-Royce from New York City to the golf course in Bedminster” and getting stopped by a cop. Just like the rest of us.
Talk about understanding the “common man!”
#4 Anthony Scaramucci
The “Mooch,” of course, is Exhibit A to prove Trump’s disdain for the practice of public relations.
Appointing a big-mouthed, know-it-all hedge fund manager, with no communications experience or expertise, to run the White House Communications Office was doomed from the start.
It is a credit to Anthony Scaramucci’s supreme self-confidence that said “doom” took only 10 days to transpire, when the Mooch was forced to resign after partaking in an expletive-laden, Administration-skewering diatribe, eagerly transcribed and published by a disbelieving-but-salivating, virulently anti-Trump New Yorker reporter.
Ever resilient, next month the Mooch will preside at a press conference for the cast of the upcoming off-Broadway musical, “The First Annual Trump Family Special,” which promises to ridicule Scaramucci’s former boss and his clan with new and unforgiving satire.
#5 Sean Spicer
“Spicey,” the only experienced communicator in the bunch and clearly the only sympathetic figure, still deserves due denunciation, more for what he “didn’t” do as press secretary.
From his first day in the saddle, when the President made him fib about the size of the inauguration crowd, Spicer should have realized that the only thing you’ve got as a professional public relations person is your credibility. And if you lie, you lose it. Right then and there, the press secretary should have read the riot act to the President in terms of either “telling the truth” or finding a new spokesman.
The fact that Spicer chose, instead, to grin and bear it deeply damaged his own credibility and cemented his name in this ignominious Presidential Communications Hall of Shame.
Fraser P. Seitel has been a communications consultant, author and teacher for 40 years. He is author of the Pearson text “The Practice of Public Relations,” now in its 13th edition, and co-author of “Rethinking Reputation" and "Idea Wise.” He may be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.