Here's why Sean Spicer left Washington's worst job

President Trump's own version of "Game of Thrones" took a predictably melodramatic turn Friday with the resignation of Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Ultimately, the exit reflected a real-world clash of various competing power centers, albeit with no actual sex or bloody murders. So one saw the figurative beheading of Spicer amid Trump's apparently unilateral decision to hire financial executive-turned-TV pundit Anthony Scaramucci as the new communications director.

At the heart of the matter was the Trump White House's unceasing bumbling with the press despite Trump's own self-image as a media manipulator par excellence.

It started the day after Trump's Inauguration with Spicer, clearly at Trump's mandate, excoriating the press for how it reported on the size of the inaugural crowd. That initial performance dogged Spicer and prompted the ridicule and caricature symbolized by Melissa McCarthy's parody of Spicer on "Saturday Night Live."

It didn't take any reporting to know that Trump, a slave to television, was furious with the McCarthy portrayal, all the more so since his spokesman was being played by a woman.

Ultimately, it led to what appeared to be a de facto demotion of Spicer as the most frequent face at what had been daily press briefings (along the way inspiring empathy among some of the White House press corps). Instead, an assistant, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, took the role in a change that's also brought fewer briefings, with even those often excluding cameras.

Cable news justifiably was all Spicer, all the time after the news broke. And the outlines of the latest palace intrigue were clear at the end of Trump's much-craved "Made in America" week that got lost especially amid his head-turning New York Times interview in which he derided Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Clearly, Trump is furious that various messages he seeks to put forth are now obscured by a variety of other stories, notably the ongoing investigation of Trump campaign and administration ties to Russia.

Clearly, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus was left out of the Scaramucci decision and, possibly, top aide Steve Bannon. Priebus would later tell the Associated Press that he was on board with the decision (Politico had reported that he and Bannon were incensed at the decision).

And, clearly, there is what Chris Wallace of Fox News Channel noted is a basic structural problem in the White House when it comes to communication: Trump believes he, above all, is the most effective spokesman for himself.

How does one manage the image, and defend the policies, of a president who may tweet to his heart's content and beckon reporters into the Oval office – perhaps unknown to you, the communications chief?

It's unclear what this means ultimately for Scaramucci, who's a less bombastic Trump clone in some ways – a New York businessman with air of pragmatism and candor, and an adroit pundit, even if far lower key than Trump.

On CNN the subject came up of whether Scaramucci, who has absolutely no experience managing a communications operation (big or small), would exert the traditional discipline of, say, making sure the president doesn't spout off to reporters in the Oval Office without senior officials being around.

"No," said reporter – host John King.

His point was simple: Trump is Trump and won't change his mercurial modus operandi.

And, just like the sun would set in the West later Friday, you could figure that more folks will follow Spicer out of the White House in coming days. It would merely be the next installment of America's most compelling reality show.

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    James Warren

    New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former managing editor and Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Tribune.


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