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Stephen Bannon Offers a Pitifully Dubious Explanation for the Lack of On-Camera Press Briefings

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | June 20, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | June 20, 2017 |

President Trump’s approval ratings have now fallen to new lows. He’s at 36 percent approval (and 60 percent disapproval) on Gallup, and CBS gives him a similarly weak approval rating at 36 percent. As Democrats couldn’t hate Trump much more than they already do, part of the reason for Trump’s falling numbers is the weakening of his base. Now, only 71 percent of Republicans still support the President, and that number is falling.

Donald Trump’s response to his unpopularity is apparently to wall himself off inside the White House and avoid the press. He hasn’t given a full press conference since February, and as Jim Acosta noted yesterday, the White House press briefings are increasingly pointless. Trump is using Twitter to issue denials (although, even in that regard, he’s been asked by his legal team to stop tweeting because he’s only hurting himself), and he’s otherwise dodging the American public, trying to avoid accountability.

After literally months of headlines suggesting that Sean Spicer was on his way out, that may finally be coming to fruition. As was reported yesterday (and even confirmed by Spicer himself), the White House is looking for someone to replace Spicer as White House Press Secretary, and Spicer himself is leading the search. (That search is apparently not going particularly well, although it appears that Daily Mail editor David Martosko is in the running along with Laura Ingraham who someone (Maggie Haberman?) said apparently didn’t test well on camera (Fox News’ Kimberly Guilfoyle apparently declined)). There’s word that Sean Spicer will be reassigned to another role, perhaps as an assistant to Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

In the meantime, we’re getting almost nothing out of the White House. No one is answering questions about the Russian probe. No one will let us know what’s going on with the planned Obamacare repeal, which is apparently getting a vote next week. Meanwhile, the best we can get from Trump on the death of college student Otto Warmbier after being held by North Korea is the very callous response he gave to the press during a meeting of the tech CEOs yesterday:

“Lot of bad things happened, but at least we got him home to be with his parents. It’s a brutal regime,” Trump said, “and we’ll be able to handle it.”


But here’s the kicker. Asked by Rosie Gray at The Atlantic why Sean Spicer is giving fewer press briefings, Stephen Bannon texted, I shit you not: “Sean got fatter,” and did not respond to a follow-up.

That’s the best explanation Bannon could offer?

And remember, folks: We have not yet seen a real crisis during the Trump Administration (except for the Constitutional crises of Trump’s own creation). What the hell happens when there’s an attack or the stock market crashes. What the hell happens then? Does Trump continue to stay hidden? Will Bannon blame Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ bad hair day for the White House’s refusal to comment?

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.