Imagine the job description for President Trumpâs White House press secretary: Defend the presidentâs utterances at all costs, no matter how ridiculous or counterfactual; admit in the alternative that you donât have the slightest idea what heâs thinking; get yelled at by the president when you stumble; be prepared to hide in the bushes and get mocked every week on âSaturday Night Live.â
Does this sound like conservative talk-radio host Laura Ingraham? While Ingraham can be as brutal and snarky as anyone on the right or left and as a trained lawyer and polemicist can hold her own in the daily joust with reporters, sheâs been an independent operator accustomed to running her own show in her own way. That might not be a good fit for what we have come to expect in this particular job.
After a gradual retreat from the public eye, press secretary Sean Spicer is stepping away from the podium and moving into a more behind-the-scenes communications role, The Washington Post and other news organizations have reported.Â And as the White House seeks a replacement press secretary, the question is not only who else could do the job, but who would be willing to take it.
Several possible candidates are being considered, The Post reportedÂ on Monday, including former Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell and Scott Reed, a senior political strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
But for many, the potential candidate who drew the most attention was Ingraham, a Fox News contributor and ardent Trump supporter to whom White House officials reached out in recent weeks about the position. The AP reported, however, that Ingraham is not likely to take the job if offered.
That wouldnât be surprising. Many observers canât imagine anyone, but particularly someone like Ingraham, being willing to put up with the job. And this speaks volumes about the extent to which a highly visible position once considered a steppingstone to fame and perhaps fortune has evolved into everyoneâs favorite punching bag.
Her wariness about working for the Trump administration, if true, puts her in good company. The Postâs Lisa Rein and Abby Phillip reported this week that many Republicans are turning down job offers in part because Trumpâs âvolatile temperament makes them nervous. They are asking headhunters if their reputations could suffer permanent damage,â they reported.
Yes, Ingraham, 54, has shown loyalty to Trump throughout his campaign and election, batting for him at the Republican National Convention and across her various media appearances. But she has also been unafraid to call him out and to speak frankly about his faults.
She would have to leave a highly lucrative job as an independent talking head in exchange for a job as Trumpâs mouthpiece. And for many, that seems highly unlikely. In fact, the Associated Press reportedÂ Ingraham is not expected to take theÂ job, and The Post reported earlier this month that Ingraham toldÂ officials she is more comfortable remaining outside the White House as a vocal Trump supporter across her various platforms.
While she can be a nasty slasherÂ in the Trump tradition (she was called a ânativist hatemongerâÂ in the Daily Kos), she is not about to be manipulated. Yet some of her conservative followers on social media are holding out hope that Ingraham might take her rapier rhetorical skills to the press room.
Many supporters point to her rÃ©sumÃ©: Ingraham, a former Ronald Reagan speechwriter and law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is described on her radio showâs website as âthe most-listened-to-woman in America on political talk radio.â She is editor in chief and co-founderÂ of the conservative website LifeZette.com,Â and has written several books.
Ingrahamâs aggressive style is marked by ârapid-fire pacingâ and fluid, often funny banter, Rory OâConnor writes in his book âShock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio.â
âIngraham argues politics the way lawyers argue cases, as if there can be no possible interpretation other than her own,â OâConnor writes. âShe is a class-A schmoozer who understands and exploits her verbal gifts to the fullest.â
Some on social media also wondered if the press secretary job would offer a high enough salary to attract Ingraham â who reportedly makes millions in income entirely on the basis of her reputation, which might be threatened in a Trump White House.
âYou need to be able to lie with a straight face and not care about your reputation,â one person wrote on Twitter.
New York Times columnist Charles Blow, a vocal liberal critic of Trump, is no fan of Ingrahamâs, he said on CNN Monday. He does not thinkÂ Ingraham is much of an âhonorable person,â he said.
But, âeven if itâs Laura Ingraham,â Blow said, âAnybody stepping into this role has to already assume that youâre taking on the baggage of not being an honorable person because you have to go out and defend someone whoâs lying,â he said.
But Ingraham has previously appeared willing to at least contemplate the idea, calling it a âprivilege to even be considered.â
âI have known Donald Trump for a long time, and we have been friends for a long time, and I am looking forward to that conversation,â she said on âFox & Friendsâ in December. âIf your country calls you, if God opens that door, you have to seriously consider it. If I can really help, it is hard to say no to that. If I think I can help, which I think I could.â
Politico reported shortly after the election that Ingraham â then one of the potential contenders for Spicerâs job â wasÂ willing to accept the position but would requestÂ a bigger role in policy buildingÂ and higher-level decision-making.
As press secretary, Ingraham would most likely share at least one trait with Spicer: disdain for mainstream media outlets.
In an interview with Politico, IngrahamÂ commended ânew mediaâ outletsÂ for dispersing theories about Benghazi and Hillary Clintonâs private server.
âNone of these things and others would have come to light without the New Media,â Ingraham said. âABC, NBC, The Washington Post are worse than irrelevant. We now must make fun of them.â
During an impassionedÂ speech at last summerâs Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ingraham pointed to the media box, saying âto all my friends up there in the press, you all know why in your heart Donald Trump won the Republican nomination. You know it.â
âYou know why he won it?â she said. âBecause he dared to call out the phonies, the frauds and the corruption that has gone unexposed and uncovered for too long.â
âDo your job,â Ingraham continued with a chuckle. âDoing your job is a novel concept.â Trump later tweeted at Ingraham in appreciation.
But Ingraham has on numerous occasions also criticized Trumpâs actions. In March, whenÂ the president attacked the Republican Freedom Caucus in the House because it wouldnât support the Republican health care bill, Ingraham said on Fox News itâs âreally, really unhelpful to Donald Trumpâs ultimate agenda to slam the very people who are going to be propping upâ his policy goals.
âI donât know where he thinks heâs gonna get his friends on those issues, unless he completely flips to become more of a Democrat,â she said.
Attacking the Freedom Caucus won’t win @POTUS any plaudits from Dems; could alienate those R’s who stood by him when so many others ran.
â Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) March 30, 2017
She has also addressed Trumpâs communication strategies, providing a window into which changesÂ she mightÂ make if sheÂ were a member of the White HouseÂ team.
On Fox News earlier this month she called out Trumpâs use of social media, saying his tweets about the ongoing Russia investigation will not helpÂ him.
âI think that if I were giving people advice in the White House, Iâd say youâre not going to win the investigation regarding James B. Comey in the press,â sheÂ said.
In May, she tweeted that fewer and shorter briefings, more message discipline and sharper âstrategic planning of new initiativesâ would all âhelp keep the focus on economy.â That same monthÂ she saidÂ Trumpâs desire to cut back on press briefings was âpart of this cat-mouse game.â
âAgain, if youâve known him for as long as we have, youâre used to this,â Ingraham said. âThis is what he does with people. Itâs a bit of a challenge.â
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