It’s hard to push the first former reality show President out of the news and comedy shows, but White House press secretary Sean Spicer has pulled it off regularly since taking the gig in January.
He hasn’t just broken the first rule of being a spin doctor – becoming the story – he’s smashed it. Spectacularly.
Many of his briefings are now audio only and with Mr Spicer no longer appearing regularly on camera, Washington is full of speculation he’ll be moved to a back-room role.
Already nostalgia for favourite Spicer moments is breaking out.
“Oh, God. When he ran away from reporters and he hid in the bush,” recalled Vox media writer Jeff Guo.
“And then there was a correction that he didn’t hide in the bush, he was actually just standing among the bushes.
“And that kind of really encapsulates the way that Sean Spicer has been talked about in the press.”
‘The second-toughest job in Washington’
Nothing is yet confirmed and the White House has batted away questions about Mr Spicer’s future.
Communications consultant Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter to George W Bush and a journalist, knows how important the job is.
“Without question, it’s the second-toughest job in Washington,” he told 7.30.
“The reason why is because if you do the job well nobody notices. And if you do the job poorly, everybody notices. As a result, it’s a thankless job.”
With his mix of combat, verbal slips and the occasional clanger of a gaffe, Mr Spicer has ended up a staple of the Saturday night comedy shows — most notably by Melissa McCarthy on Saturday Night Live.
“They’ve had a terrific run making fun of Sean Spicer,” Mr Neusner said.
“It’s too bad, by the way, he’s a good guy.
“I know him a bit; he doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment. But when you’re in the hot seat that’s the way it goes.”
‘The White House should be able to take on tough questions’
At the moment the White House appears to be sidelining Mr Spicer, at least from being the public face of the administration. The powerful US cable networks can no longer routinely broadcast briefings.
That has led to clashes with journalists such as CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
“We have a tradition that’s been going on in Washington for decades now that these briefings are televised and taking that away from us really erodes at our First Amendment rights in this country,” he told 7.30.
“Yes, I guess I am making a little bit of a stink about it in the briefing room but I don’t feel like this should happen without a fight.”
He’s leading the journalist insurrection against the new rules.
A generation of Americans have grown used to press briefings that are immortalised in shows like West Wing and House of Cards.
“My feeling is, listen, if they’re going to turn the cameras off, if they’re not going to abide by the rules and expectations that we’ve had in Washington for decades, why are we abiding by the rule of tradition that we raise our hand and wait like polite boys and girls?” Acosta said.
“This is the White House, they should be able to take on the tough questions and they should be able to do it on camera.”
Mr Spicer was a source of amusement in Australia during his first few days in the job when he appeared to twice mispronounce Malcolm Turnbull’s name during a press conference in which he stressed Mr Trump’s “tremendous respect” for the Australian PM.
Is there even a place for a Trump press secretary?
As if Mr Spicer’s job wasn’t hard enough anyway, he also has to deal with Donald Trump’s prolific and often contradictory tweeting.
Mr Neusner says that’s a big part of the problem.
“When it’s frequent, it’s emotional, when it comes out in bursts, when it undermines what the press sec said a few days ago, when it undermines the agenda that the President says that he wants, it makes it very difficult,” he said.
It’s led to speculation it may not just be Mr Spicer but the job itself that is downgraded in the age of Trump.
“I think at this point the real question is: what is the point of the press secretary under a Donald Trump presidency?” Mr Guo asked.
“The President has made it so clear that he wants to speak for himself. The President has made it extremely clear that the people that speak for him sometimes don’t really understand him at all.”