In June, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her deputy press secretary Raj Shah were reportedly looking to leave the White House by 2019. Now, even as her role has diminished within the West Wing, Sanders doesn’t appear to be preparing to leave, and reportedly, that’s because she’s having a hard time finding anywhere else to work, according to Raw Story.
The White House has been in turmoil recently, with a lingering shutdown and unexpected staff shake-ups leaving things uncertain for everyone who works there. While Sanders remains in position, she has seen her role within the administration gradually decline. Instead of the “daily” press briefings that she used to provide, the press secretary is now giving short “monthly” briefings.
For his part, Raj Shah has removed the title of deputy White House press secretary from his Twitter bio – it now reads “communications adviser” – and insiders say they’ve heard he won’t be on the payroll come January.
The White House staffing turmoil has extended to the communications office. So far, Trump has had five communications directors in two years and has lost four assistant press secretaries. The diminishing role of the press office is, in part, because President Donald Trump likes to be his own spokesperson. But it’s also reportedly because the communications office is having a hard time finding qualified talent. The result is a department that is understaffed and likely to stay that way.
“No professional in good standing will even interview for a job,” a White House official said, per Yahoo. “It’s a zombie comms shop. Night of the living dead.”
The White House has also failed to cultivate a strong communications team who is able to develop a working relationship with the press. This has been exacerbated after the White House focused on eliminating the leaks that were plaguing the office early in the administration.
“There’s this fear factor with this whole leaking thing,” the staffer said. “Now no one talks to the press except to leak.”
The result is that small stories are becoming big ones without the moderating influence of a cohesive message from within the White House.
“You have a situation where stories that could have been small are now blowing up and just causing huge crises and controversies,” a White House insider said.
Sanders declined to respond to media inquiries about her role in the White House, saying that she is traveling. Sanders has frequently been on the go recently. After Christmas, she went to Iraq with President Trump to visit the troops.
Powerful moment – Member of United States Army told the President he came back into the military because of him. And President Trump responded, “And I am here because of you.” I met him after and he gave me the patch from his arm. Incredible. #TrumpTroopsVisit pic.twitter.com/WmQf3b2K8X
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) December 26, 2018