Who's Ready For White House Press Secretary...Newt Gingrich?

Posted: May 18, 2017 10:25 AM
Who's Ready For White House Press Secretary...Newt Gingrich?

Three problems, right out of the gate: First, there's no indication that he's even remotely in the mix for the job. Other prominent names have made the rounds as rumors of Sean Spicer's possible departure persist (update: new reporting today suggests that Spicer's role may be shifting soon), but Newt isn't one of them. Second, if various reports are to be believed, his wife Callista is about to be dispatched to Europe as America's ambassador to the Vatican. One might imagine that her husband would want to spend a fair amount of time in Rome over the next few years -- as opposed to schlepping over to Pennsylvania Avenue every morning -- right? And third, does anyone who once basked in the prestige of a position as lofty as Speaker of the House really want to sign up to be someone else's communications flack?  'White House Press Secretary' would be an exceptionally impressive title for virtually anyone else in the game; but maybe not so much for someone who was once a powerful decision-maker with a still-strong national profile. All of which is to say, this probably isn't going to happen. But stick with me because Allahpundit makes a compelling and entertaining case for why it'd be a great hire, if Trump could persuade his buddy to take on the gig. What promoted AP's brainstorm? A piping hot anti-media tirade by Gingrich, in which the former Speaker suggested that Trump should exile the press from the White House and effectively board up the briefing room:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump should "close down the White House press briefing room.” "I am personally offended by the American news media. I think it is destructive and disgusting. It is a danger to the country right now," Gingrich said. He also said the press should be banished to a nearby Starbucks and that Spicer should take questions from the American people. "Just say to the American people, you get to choose," Gingrich said. Closing the press briefing room would send a message to the country "that the media is a corrupt institution and he is tired of being harassed by people whose only interest is making him look bad."...He also said that reporters shouldn't print information they couldn't attach a name to. "You guys are nuts," he said. Gingrich said 10 percent of Trump's problems are from his White House's mistakes — and 90 percent come from the American news media, who he said wakes up every morning trying to damage Trump's presidency. 

As a journalist who is alsofrequent critic of the mainstream media establishment's double standards, I think barring reporters from the White House would be a terrible idea.  In our country, the press should be able to directly confront the president and his representatives with questions every single day.  I'm open to ideas about reforming the daily briefing, which is too often tedious and stale (also, I enjoy the Trump administration's innovation allowing Skyped-in questions from local or non-traditional outlets), but ditching it altogether wouldn't sit right.  Robust access for an adversarial press is part of the deal in America, and it must remain so.  The symbolism alone of Trump ejecting the press corps from the White House would be ominous, even if it would delight his core base.  And the idea that it would help repair relations with the news media or encourage better, fairer coverage is obviously a total fantasy. That's where Allahpundit's "compromise" comes in.  Rather than giving them the boot, Trump could give them a heavy dose of the Newt.  AP helps us imagine the scenario:

He’s one of Trump’s most articulate defenders; he legitimately hates the media and would attack it with gusto every day; and he understands government intimately and could comment more intelligently on policy than...any other flack who might end up in the job. If the press has to sit through half-hour digressions about moon bases and Lean Six Sigma every day, well, that’s arguably harsher punishment than barring them from the White House would be. There’s no doubt Trump would be thrilled with Gingrich’s performance too. He’s complimented him publicly, remember, when Newt has clashed with reporters whom Trump especially dislikes.

He sure has.  Allahpundit also offers up a workaround for the challenge of effectively demoting a guy who was once the most influential person on Capitol Hill to a less august role of mere spokesman.  Solution: Give Newt a much more illustrious honorific (something like Senior Adviser to the President), "then deputize him to address the press each afternoon."  It would be "must-see TV, every day," he adds.  He's not wrong.  Still, I'd tweak this a bit. Rather than having Newt handle the bulk of the daily briefings, perhaps just trot him out once a week, or on major news days.  Other members of the White House press team could handle the day-to-day, but when things get especially hairy or complicated for the administration, Newt would could roll in with a rhetorical bucket full of 'fundamentallys' and 'franklys' to do enthusiastic battle with the assembled reporters.  Gingrich would be more knowledgeable and would possess a keener intellect than the great majority of people in that room, and he would truly love the sparring.  So would his boss, who'd watch with delight as Newt pummeled and lectured reporters.  Say what you will about him, Newt can be a brutally effective surrogate, has a sharp mind, and loathes media bias with the fire of a thousand suns.  If you close your eyes, you might be able to envision Trump showing up at the tail end of a briefing for an in-person thumbs-up, having approvingly watched an especially acerbic performance live on Fox News.  And because his job description would not require daily appearances, Newt could still spend plenty of time with Callista overseas, with each half of the couple serving the country and the president in separate capacities.  Finally, in the event that Newt ever mangled his talking points and displeased the president, we all know that he's fully capable of a...memorable apology:

Socialist Promises
Walter E. Williams

So how about it, Mr. President and Mr. Speaker?  The podium beckons.